When it comes to computers, especially gaming computers, heat is the enemy that will slow a computer down, or even make it crash. It’s a slow process usually unless there is something significantly wrong with the computer.
Luckily, there are various ways to keep computers cool, quiet, and happy, with the majority of the suggestions optimizing the airflow path through the computer. Better airflow means more fresh air coming in and hot air going out.
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Dust the Computer Off at Least Twice a Year
Dust is the easiest thing to control a computer. Most modern gaming computer chassis have decent dust filters to help prevent particulates from getting into the computer, and a well-designed case will have a single layer of dust filtration or mesh to prevent restricting airflow too much to keep thermals in check. But dust will often get in through little cracks and nooks anyways.
To dust your computer, a Data-Vac or anti-static hand vacuum is recommended, as normal vacuums will both generate Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) which can damage your components or even rip of little pieces like capacitors or other surface mounted devices. If you don’t have an anti-static vacuum, then a simple makeup brush or soft microfiber cloth should also do.
Most of the case panels should easily come off to give you easy access to the internals of your computer, as well as many dust filters are removable for easy cleaning. This can go a long way to help reduce your temperatures. Dusting your computer once every other month is a good habit to have, and only should take about 20 minutes if you do it regularly.
Move the Computer Higher
Moving a computer off the ground is a big factor in reducing dust and increasing airflow. A general recommendation is to raise it at least 12 inches off the floor, but putting it on a desk or table is even better. This is due to the fact that lots of animal fur, hair, dust, and dirt end up on the ground and can get sucked up into the computer.
If the computer is inside of a cabinet in the desk, then it’s highly recommended to move it to somewhere with better airflow. While a standard desktop computer can survive in those cabinets, gaming computers will suffocate inside a desk cabinet. The same goes for gaming consoles and entertainment centers with doors on them.
Turn on the Air Conditioning
While not expected at first, reducing the ambient air temperature around the computer will drastically reduce the temperature inside the computer. The cooler the fresh air is that goes into the computer, the more heat it can absorb from the components inside, and the better the components will be cooled.
This is one of the basic principles of thermodynamics and heat transfer. The greater the delta of temperatures from hot to cold, the faster the heat will transfer, and if it isn’t obvious, a gaming computer can generate a lot of heat while gaming.
Add More Fans to the Computer
Most gaming computers will have at least three fans built into the components of the computer. Typically there is one fan attached to a heatsink mounted on the CPU on the motherboard, one in the power supply, and at least one on the graphics card for gaming computers if not two or three.
Depending on the gaming computer, it might have just one extra fan mounted to the case, but a great gaming case will come with 3 fans. These case fans can really help move more cool air into the computer and move the hot air out of the computer, and most gaming cases can handle 6-8 total case fans.
Ideally, the computer should have the same number of case fans intaking fresh air as there is exhausting hot air, but if there has to be an uneven distribution of fans, more intakes over exhausts are generally recommended to help keep dust out. If the fans are powered by the motherboard, then they will spin faster and slower with respect to the temperature of the system.
Upgrade to Liquid Cooling
Once all other options have been exhausted, this is a recommended solution. Liquid cooling, either as an All-in-One solution or with custom-loop components, will help reduce component temperatures because water absorbs heat much more readily than air.
The natural heat capacity of water also allows a liquid cooling solution to manage heat spikes better when its lightly playing games, and not fully stressing the CPU or GPU. The CPU or GPU will not produce less heat though as they will be performing the same and consuming the same amount of electricity, but because there will be more mass to absorb heat, the CPU and GPU will take longer to heat up, which is helpful in games where there are alternating moments of intensive fighting and casual situations.
Be warned though, liquid cooling is much more efficient in transferring heat, so your room will actually get hotter faster from the exhaust air of the computer, so the air conditioning tip is extra recommended.
Altogether, making sure that your computer is clean, cool, and happy will go a long way in ensuring you have the best experience while gaming for hours on end. A cool computer will be a quiet computer, and a quiet computer is a happy computer.