This is what you need to know about your PC cooling

Optimal cooling of your desktop PC or laptop is important, it ensures that the components in your system do not get too hot. In this article we explain which parts are important for good air circulation and which are useful products to improve the performance of your PC cooling.

Tip 01: How do you stay cool?

With a laptop you usually have no option to adjust anything to the system yourself, you just have to assume that the manufacturer has done its best to design the cooling system as well as possible. However, this sometimes goes wrong, for example, after a year the thermal paste used no longer works, causing the temperature of your processor to skyrocket during normal use. A well-cooled laptop is becoming an increasingly important theme because manufacturers want to produce thinner laptops, with the result that there is simply too little space for proper cooling of the components. With a desktop PC, such a problem is a lot easier to solve, you can then exchange a fan if it no longer functions properly or remove and replace a CPU cooler. In this article we focus on desktop PCs, because here you have more options to change something yourself. We also give some general tips later on how you can improve the airflow, how you can replace the thermal paste yourself and which programs can help you to register and better regulate the cooling.

If the thermal paste no longer works, the temperature of your processor will shoot up

Tip 02: Airflow

There is one essential word that has to do with the cooling in your PC case: airflow. It's all about how quickly and efficiently the hot air can be diverted away from the parts that can heat up quickly. The component that produces the most heat is the CPU. In normal use, it is between 45 and 60 degrees Celsius. If you play a game or are involved in other intensive processes, the temperature can quickly rise to 80 degrees. Your CPU can also easily get to 90 to 100 degrees, but when it gets that hot, the fans kick in and you get a phenomenon called thermal throttling. The CPU will then run at a lower frequency, with the result that your PC no longer works as you expected. Thermal throttling is a concept that many MacBook Pro users are all too familiar with. For example, Apple dropped a stitch in the search for an even more compact MacBook Pro laptop. Thermal throttling there was caused by a poorly designed airflow in combination with the thermal paste that lost its function over time.

Tip 03: The environment

It may go without saying, but if you don't want your PC to get too hot on the inside, the outside must also be nice and cool. In the cold winter months this is of course a lot easier than when it is around thirty degrees in the office. Therefore, first of all, make sure that the PC is not directly in the sun, but look for the coolest spot in the room. It is also important that the air can circulate properly. If you install a PC in a closed cabinet, it can work like a kind of greenhouse. In addition, make sure you don't block any air holes by putting something against them. These air holes are usually located at the back of a PC case. It is also smart not to place other devices that cause a lot of heat near the PC, because the cooling in your PC then has to work much harder, because it also has to do with warm air from outside. If you notice that your PC is having a really hard time on really hot days, you can always aim a fan at the PC, this can make all the difference to the performance of the CPU. For laptops it is important that you mainly use them on a flat stable surface. If you cover the air holes of a laptop because you keep the device on your lap for a long time, for example, the laptop can no longer lose its heat.

One of the culprits of overheating computers is a fan that has stopped working properly

Tip 04: Open the cupboard

One of the biggest culprits of overheating computers is a fan that has stopped working properly. So open your closet once a month(s) and see if a lot of dust has collected in the fan. You can easily clean your fan with a blower. From the inside, you inject air from the bellows into the fan, causing it to spin and blow the dust out. So never do this from the outside, for the simple reason that you will blow all the dust inside. You can also use a bottle of compressed air, but it contains chemicals that may not be good for some parts of your PC. Moreover, such a bottle costs quite a bit of money and in ninety percent of the cases you achieve the same result with a bellows.

If you notice that your PC has trouble with air circulation and therefore gets very hot, don't think that you are helping your PC by taking the case off. A good PC case is designed in such a way that it can circulate the air in the most efficient way possible. When you take the case off, you bring the entire circulation system to the controls and the computer can no longer send cold air to the correct parts.

You are supposed to have a thin layer of the new paste on the processor

Tip 05: Thermal paste

In addition to airflow, manufacturers use other means to cool the various elements of your PC. The thermal paste, for example, for your cpu and gpu. With a ready-made system or a laptop, manufacturers smear this conductive substance on a cpu or gpu to ensure that the heat can be conducted as best as possible to a cooling element on top. That heat sink is called a heat sink and is designed so that it can easily divert heat away from the processor to the fan. Some heat sinks that you buy at the computer store have a fan on top.

Thermal paste can lose its function over time. If you have the idea that this is the case with your PC, you can see if you can apply this paste again. It is very important that you know exactly what you are doing, especially if you want to do this with a laptop, because you often have to take quite a lot of parts out of the case to reach the processor. In any case, make sure that your computer is turned off and that you are statically discharged before opening the case. Before you apply new thermal paste, you must remove the remnants of the current thermal paste that are still present. Do this with a dust-free cloth or a coffee filter that you have briefly dipped in the isopropyl alcohol, 90% is better than 70%. Make sure all the old paste has been removed, you've wiped the processor dry, and you don't touch any other parts with the cloth. Then carefully apply the thermal paste to the processor. It is very important that you do not smear other parts with the substance. Ultimately, the idea is that you have a thin layer of the new paste on the entire processor. There are a number of videos on YouTube explaining the process, this one is one of the better ones. In our buying tips at the end of this article, we'll show you a thermal paste that we think is one of the best options.

Tip 06: Bigger fan

If you buy a ready-made system, the manufacturer may not have installed the best fan for your CPU. Fortunately, you can easily upgrade your CPU fan. By the way, this is not just about a fan, in most cases you purchase a complete cooling system for your processor, which consists of a heat sink with a fan on top. To find out whether a CPU cooler is suitable for your system, you should check the specifications of the cooler.

There is also a fan in the back of your PC case, this is the main fan that ensures that the warm air is transported out of your case. This fan is also easy to replace. Here too, you should double check whether the new fan you have in mind is suitable for your type of cabinet.

You can easily exchange this fan if your fan stops working properly

Tip 07: Software

If you are curious how hot the processors in your computer are, install software that can monitor this for you. Also useful for detecting any software errors. It is possible that a certain process or program suddenly causes the temperature to rise. If you know what's causing a surge, you can counteract that overheating by installing an update, uninstalling the program, or downgrading. A good program, for both Windows and macOS, is Intel Power Gadget. You will find it here. Of course, this program is only useful if you have an Intel processor in your system. Another program is HWiNFO. This tool not only monitors the temperature of your CPU, it can also show you all kinds of other relevant information. You can find it at www.hwinfo.com.

Cooling with water

Cooling with water? A water cooler is a smart way to cool down your computer when the traditional fan can no longer do this. Compare it to air conditioning. You place a part of the water cooler on your CPU to which cold water is then led. The warm wastewater is routed to a fan at the back of your system and exits your cabinet here as warm air. No vapor is released, as the water system is a completely closed system.

In the position there are fans that ensure that the surface of your laptop is cooled

Tip 08: Cooling pad

If you have a laptop that gets hot very quickly and you don't dare or don't want to replace the thermal paste yourself, you can opt for a cooling pad. This is an ergonomic stand where you can place your laptop. In the position there are fans that ensure that the surface of your laptop is cooled. The functionality of cooling pads varies widely, some pads do help with some laptops, other combinations of cooling pads and laptops bring almost no improvement. It is therefore a good idea to look for reviews or opinions from users before purchasing or to google for the combination of the specific cooling pad and your laptop. You can connect some cooling pads to the wall socket, others work with a USB connection.

Buying tips

This time no three comparable products in different price ranges, but three products that can improve the cooling of your PC or laptop. We've selected the best CPU cooler for your desktop, we'll show you a thermal paste for your processor and you'll read which fan is cheap and which is well able to conduct the heat away from your cabinet.

Noctua NH-D15

Price: € 89,99

The Noctua NH-D15 is the perfect CPU cooler for your desktop PC. The heat sink consists of six towers that guide the heat away from your CPU as optimally as possible. Between the cooling elements you will find two fans that make virtually no noise, which is also not unimportant if you want a well-cooled PC. The element with which you secure the cooler fits on different motherboards.

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

Price: € 7,99

The Thermal Grizzy Kryonaut is one of the better thermal pastes that you can use to improve the heat conduction of your CPU or GPU. The thermal paste ensures that there is as little air as possible between the processor and the heat sink. The included spatula is useful for distributing the paste as evenly as possible over the processor.

Corsair Air Series AF120

Price: € 12,75

Corsair fans are almost always a good choice, but we prefer this model because it is very quiet. The fan is available in four colors and can be mounted in almost all standard PC cabinets. If you love colored lights, there is even an RGB version with colored LED lights available.

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