It is getting hot and your computer doesn't like it...

As we head into summer your computer is going to struggle.

Most people just use their computer like any other gadget or tool.

We like to work near windows where the sun beats through in summer. We like to take our laptops around the house, to the garden, to the beach, to the park, in the car and around world with us (covid pending) and use them in all sorts of variable conditions.

That's fine and dandy, but you see, computers don't like running at elevated temperatures.

In fact, my very first computer would only run for about 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the season, until it overheated and crashed.

I did everything I could to cool it down but its overheating was pretty much a design flaw and how things often were in the early days of home computers.

I put big heat sinks on the CPU to draw heat away, kept the case open and even ran fans on it to no noticeable benefit.

This was my first computer and it came as a kit.
Dick Smith Super 80

Some computers can be designed to run at higher than expected temperatures and still do OK.

Laptops tend to run "warm" and that is one of the main reasons they don't last as long as desktops.

You've probably noticed how hot your laptop gets if you've ever actually used it on your lap.

If you've been unlucky over the years, you may have experienced third degree burns from a hot laptop or noticed burn marks on your desk where your laptop sits!!

However, today's computers mostly do a pretty good job of keeping themselves cool enought to run reliably. But as they age this changes.

Many of you have probably noticed the fans in your computer turn on and off and spin faster and louder from time to time.

Then, after a while the "faster and louder" thing seems to be a permanent state of affairs.

If you've read my post about cleaning your computer, then you already know that the accumlated dust, dirt and whatever else inside it will be contributing to the overheating.

The cooling fans inside your computer can also fail and if you are used to NOT hearing them then you won't notice when they stop working altogether.

Depending on your machine, replacing or upgrading a failed fan can be anything from a doddle to impossible.

Sometimes the problems are deeper than surface dust and failed fans.

One thing that affects all computers sooner or later is the break down of the thermal paste between the various processors and their heatsinks and cooling systems.

This is a toothpaste like substance that lives between your CPU (and potentially your GPU etc) and the heat sinks used to draw energy away.

When it ages it turns to dust (perhaps a slight exageration) and instead of being a good thermal conductor it leaves behind an small gap of air that acts as an insulator.

Your computer will slow down and even switch off to protect itself as these components get too hot.

If you are skilled enough, and of a mind to rectify this yourself, it can reward you with near new performance from your old computer.

Here's what I did to my old laptop to give some extra life. The job included renewing the thermal paste on the CPU:

But if that seems a bit much for you, you may just want to consider the following tips:

  1. Never leave your computer in direct sunlight or any other heated area.

  2. Give your computer room to breath - don't block fans or put it in a closed cabinet.

  3. Don't use your computer in places where it can "inhale" extra dust and grime - the floor may seem like a good place but if you have carpet and animals the machine will just suck in extra detritus.

  4. Avoid using the machine in hot weather or the hottest part of the day.

  5. Move to a cooler room or part of the house.

  6. If using a laptop on your lap, avoid blocking vents with your clothes etc.

  7. If you must use a heater under your desk in winter, don't have it heating your computer as well.

  8. Don't make the computer work harder than it has to - like anything, the more work it does the hotter it gets.

  9. Thoroughly clean your computer -

Have fun and stay cool ;-)


34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All