4 Cooling Solutions to Prevent Your PC From Overheating
Computers need cooling to remove the heat their components generate during use. If you’re building your own PC —
especially if you’re overclocking it — you’ll need to think about how you’ll cool it.
heat build up can actually damage your computer’s hardware or cause it to become unstable. Modern PCs may shut down
and refuse to operate if they reach a potentially unsafe level of heat.
A heat sink is a passive cooling system that cools a component by dissipating heat. For example, your CPU probably has a heat sink on top of it — that’s the large, metal object.
CPUs don’t just have heat sinks — if you have a dedicated graphics card, your GPU probably has a heat sink as well. Other components on your motherboard may have their own heat sinks, too. Heat moves from the heat-generating component to the heat sink pressed against it. The
heat sink is designed with a large surface area, exposing a large amount of its surface to the air to dissipate heat more efficiently.
Thermal interface materials(thermal compound,thermal pad etc.)
CPUs and GPUs generally have a thermal compound between them and the heat sink. This may be called thermal grease, thermal gel, thermal paste, heat sink paste, or many other names. This material is smeared on top of the CPU, and then the heat sink is pressed down on top. The thermal compound fills any air gaps between the heat-producing component and the heat sink allowing more efficient transfer of heat. 0.13mm~0.15mm is the best thickness of thermal compound.
Some heat sinks ship with thermal pads on their undersides. This makes them easier to install, but the pads are less effective at conducting heat than typical paste. An included thermal pad may be good enough for running a CPU at its stock speeds, but isn’t ideal for overclocking.
Thermal interface materials can deteriorate over time. If your CPU is generating more heat than normal and you’ve dusted out your heat sinks and fans, you may sometimes need to reapply new thermal interface materials.
Fans force air to move, so the hot air is blown away from heat-generating components and expelled from the desktop or laptop PC’s case. A typical desktop PC may contain multiple fans. The CPU itself often has a fan on top — so the CPU is inserted into the socket on the motherboard, thermal interface material is applied to the top of the CPU, and the heat sink is attached to the CPU. The fan is placed on top of the heat sink, ensuring the hot air is blown away from the heat sink and CPU. Dedicated NVIDIA and AMD GPUs often have a similar setup, with heat sink compound or thermal pad, a heat sink, and a fan of their own.
Dust build-up can clog heat sinks, fans, air vents, and your computer’s case, blocking air flow. This is why it’s a good idea to regularly dust out your computer’s case. You should also ensure your PC’s air vents aren’t blocked or the air will have nowhere to go and the computer will overheat.
The above methods are the typical types of cooling solutions you’ll find in most PCs, although some power-efficient PCs are designed to work without fans. Still, enthusiasts sometimes opt for more extreme cooling solutions.
Water cooling, or liquid cooling, was originally for mainframes. Enthusiasts who want to overclock their hardware and push it as far as possible like water cooling because it’s more effective at cooling than fans, so a water-cooled PC can be overclocked further.
Water cooling involves a pump that pumps water through tubes that travel throughout your PC’s case. The cool water in the tubes absorb heat as it moves through your case and then leaves your case, where a radiator radiates the heat outward. This is only necessary if you need to deal with an extreme amount of heat
You can buy water cooling kits, so this isn’t as hard to set up as you might think, but these kits do cost hundreds of dollars. They also consume more power and are more complex. If a tube springs a leak and starts spraying water inside your running computer, you’d likely have a disaster on your hands.
When building your own PC, get the usual heat sink, thermal compound, and fans — that will probably be enough. If you want to go crazy with overclocking, get a water cooling solution. You probably shouldn’t go beyond water cooling!