My computer is overheating. How do I fix?

Ignoring the warning signs

At first, I wasn’t sure whether it was just me or whether my laptop was really getting hotter.

Yet pretty soon I could not stand it anymore – I had to get it off my lap; and before I knew it the screen went dark on me.

I hit the restart button over and again, but it was hopeless. It just would not turn back on anymore.

The hard drive had died on me with all of my precious work on it. And I didn’t have a backup anywhere.

How Does Heat Affect Computer Performance?

Another vital thing you concern about should be the influence on computer performance. Here are some things you should know.

A computer has its own cooling system and the motherboard is one representative part. The motherboard contains some major components like CPU, memory banks, different connectors & slots, and more.

What happens when a computer overheats? The motherboard can work based on the computer current situation:

  • When your computer is getting hot, it can instruct the intensive applications to slow down the operating speeds.
  • When your computer is overheating, it can instruct the computer components to shut down to avoid further damages. In such cases, the computer may be shut down without any warning. Of course, this second case always happens in extreme circumstances.

You can see that your computer has its own self-protection mechanism. Computer overheating may cause your computer to freeze or shut down. But, this action means to protect the machine from further damage. After restarting the machine, your computer can work normally again.

Yes, computer heat has some influence on the computer performance. But, the influence is tiny. It can’t even excess the influence of normal daily consumption.

But, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore the computer overheating issue. When it’s time to let your computer have a rest, just do it without hesitation.

Here comes a new issue: how to tell if a computer is overheating? Keep on reading to get the answer.


Test for hardware failure

Overheating can be caused by different types of hardware failures.

For instructions on how to test for hardware failures to ensure that your hardware is functioning correctly, see HP PCs – Testing for hardware failures in Windows 10.

How to Test the Internal Temperature of Your Laptop

If your laptop is just plain hot, find out if it’s running too hot by using a free program to check the internal laptop temperature and find its optimal temperature.

Some system information tools support temperature readings too. Maintaining one of those programs on your computer offers the added benefit of letting you check up other stats about your computer and not just the temperature of the internal components.

Increasing efficiency to reduce heat

The computer works harder and generates more heat when multiple applications are open at the same time or while playing graphically intense video games.

Use the following tips to improve computer efficiency.

  • Change which applications run when Windows starts by using the Startup tab in Task Manager.

  • Close applications when you are done using them.

  • Close the internet browser when you are not using it.

  • Lower the game resolution and decrease the graphics settings if the computer becomes warmer than usual while playing.

If the issue persists, you might need to update the computer using Windows Update.

What to do with an overheated computer

Once you determine that your computer is, in fact, overheating, you need to figure out why. Here are a few of the most common culprits, and how to fix them.

  • Make sure the fan is running. “If it didn’t run hot at first, and it’s running hot now,” says Silverman, “put your hand near the fan grille and feel for vibration, to see if the fan is working.” If it’s broken, then it won’t dissipate that heat. You’ll need to contact a professional who can replace it.
  • Blow out the dust. “Dust bunnies, debris, and food fragments can find their way through ducts and magnify the situation,” says Silverman. He recommends grabbing a can of compressed air and using it to clean out the fan grille. “Try to angle the nozzle so you’re blowing air out of the laptop.” Cleaning out the gunk will allow the fan to run freely once more.
  • Check your surroundings. If something is blocking the airflow around your computer, that could be causing your problem. “Don’t put it on a bed—that’s the worst thing you can do,” says Silverman. “The blankets just stifle the airway. Put it on a flat desk, or on top of a flat book so air can flow.” Some clamshell cases also stifle airflow, so if you have a case on the bottom of your laptop, try removing it. Other surroundings also matter—if the weather is hotter than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, don’t use your computer outside of the air conditioning.
  • Stick to a genuine battery and AC adapter. “If you replace your battery with a secondhand battery from eBay or Amazon, you’re going to have issues,” says Silverman. “They aren’t packaged the same way as the originals, so the heat tends to run hotter on the contacts. Don’t skimp on the battery. Bad things will happen.”
  • Update your software. This is rare, but occasionally, software and firmware issues can cause overheating. In fact, this what happened with Apple’s 2018 MacBook models: They thermal throttled under seemingly-normal conditions until a software update fixed the issue.

Related: Best laptop cooling pads

If none of those suggestions seem to describe your situation, or these fixes don’t help, call in the professionals. If you have enough experience, you may want to open your computer and take a look yourself, but a repair shop can do a more thorough cleaning with specialized tools, and an expert might be able to diagnose other, more specific, hardware issues.

How does computer cooling work?

Most computer cooling works by using air flow. The vents in your computer’s exterior casing allow cool air to enter while releasing the hotter air from inside. Fans facilitate air flow — and an increased whirring sound indicates your device may be a little too hot, as the fans are working overtime to keep things cool.

Other internal components also help with cooling. These are usually attached to the CPU or GPU, which generate the most heat through typical use. The heat sink is the main component that absorbs heat from these processors, and thermal paste is applied to the heat sink to conduct heat away from the CPU.

Your PC also cools itself systematically. This is what’s happening when you hear the fans speed up when opening certain applications or doing certain tasks. Cooling software provides automatic mechanisms to increase cooling when performing demanding tasks over an extended period of time.

The room is too hot

The external ambient temperature plays a big part in how hot your computer gets.

For example, where I live, it gets extremely humid and hot, making cooling difficult.

In a situation like this, make sure you get the room cooled down adequately before using your computer.

Opening all windows and doors is an obvious first step. From there, try cooling fans, a larger computer case, and finally an air conditioner.

Invest in a larger computer case

My Personal Rig

Sometimes, after trying everything, you can’t seem to get your room temperature down enough, or you’ve maxed out the fans in your case, but your computer still overheats.

I’ve been there. In this situation, I recommend a larger computer case.

Having larger spaces around the components inside your computer helps a lot.

Not only that, you now will have more room to add more cooling fans.

I’ve conducted my own experiments for this and found that a larger case dramatically helps keep your computer cooler.

One easy way to determine whether or not a larger case will solve your problem is to remove the case lid and turn your computer on.

Use it and observe the difference between the temperatures of each component. A larger case will most likely help if you see a positive result.

A case that I use for my own computer and have been pleased with is a Corsair Obsidian Series 1000D Super-Tower Case.

It’s not for everybody, because it’s big. Really big. (31.4 inches (80cm) x 19.69 inches (50,5cm) x 31.4 inches (80cm)). You can see what it looks like next to my Samsung Odyssey G9 monitor.

But now my computer is really easy to work on now, looks awesome, and remains really cool during the hottest summer days.

How to fix CPU overheating?

The ideal temperature of the notebook is about 30 degrees above the environment temperature, so you can judge according to the environment in which you use the notebook. Try to keep your notebook CPU temperature within 75 degrees, not more than 85 degrees.

Note: The temperature here refers to the notebook CPU core temperature, which is the CPU temperature detected by the relevant software.

Method 1: Clean the dust

One reason that makes your CPU overheated is the dust. Too much dust can cause the CPU overheating. So open your computer case, clean the dust to cool down your CPU and prevent it from overheating again.

Method 2: Check your cooling system

Because the computer components will generate heat during normal use, so there is a cooling system built inside to cool down components and let them work normally. When the cooling system is not working properly, the heat will stay inside and cause your CPU overheated. If you clean the dust but your CPU still has a high temperature, it might be something wrong with your cooling system. You can fix it or replace the system with a new one.

Fix Air-flow cooling system

Air-flow cooling system
Photo by Jim Varga on Uns
Air-flow cooling systemPhoto by Jim Varga on Unsplash

There are two cooling systems: one is the Air-flow cooling system and the other is the Liquid-cooled system. The Air-flow cooling system is the most common cooling system on the computer. The air-flow cooling system can be divided into two parts: fans and heat sinks. A heat sink is a piece of metal provides surface area for air. CPU makes heat sinks hotter, then the fan will send the hot air out of the PC case. To fix the air-flow cooling system you need to check these two parts.

  • The heat sink isn’t efficient
  • The fan is not working
  • Air circulation is low

The heat sink isn’t efficient

If the performance of the CPU heat sink is low, its heat cannot be sent away in time. Then you need to replace it with a better sink.

The fan is not working

If the fan is not working, you definitely need to replace it with a new one.

Air circulation is low

This problem is common with the notebook. If your notebook air ducts are not good which is always not really well on the notebook, it is recommended to add a cooling base to assist.

Method 3: Check your thermal paste

The old thermal paste is no longer effective is one of the reasons for the CPU overheating. The failure of the thermal paste cannot be transmitted to the fan leading to the fan doesn’t work properly. Therefore, you should replace the thermal paste either by yourself or go to a computer store.

If your computer is still under warranty, it’s not recommended to fix by yourself.

If your computer is out of warranty, and you’re confident with yourself, you can try to fix it on your own.

  1. Shut down your computer completely. Cut off the power.
  2. Open your computer case.
  3. Clean the dust inside.
  4. Remove the fan gently.
  5. Wipe the CPU and the old thermal paste.
  6. Clean your hands.
  7. Put a little thermal paste on both sides of the CPU and the fan.Note: Don’t put too much, a soybean size is enough.
  8. Put the fan back.
  9. Close your computer case.

Method 4: Stop overclocking

Overclocking is a way to speed up CPU or GPU, make the component perform more operations per second. Of course, this way will make the component generate more heat. So if your CPU is overheating when you’re overclocking it, you need to throttle back the overclock and cool down your CPU.

Basic Steps and Precautions for Computer Overheat Solution:

Driver Update:

The foremost aspect to be considered in the scenario of computer overheat is that the drivers are updated. One can face this issue if the drives are not updated correctly according to Windows. Users can go to their settings, the Window Updates section, and then check for them. It is also necessary that you install the correct drivers for Windows 10/11 to avoid the Computer overheat.

Also, make sure that the computer overheat is not being caused by a driver that you may have installed recently. If you have installed one, uninstall it, reboot, and check if the problems of Computer overheat persist. If it doesn’t, you may have just fixed the issue.

Functioning of Hardware Components

Incompatible hardware programs are also one of the major reasons that cause the problem of computer overheat. Proper ventilation for your CPU is also necessary to avoid this problem. Often, we do not leave enough breathing space for our systems which causes a rise in temperature in the hardware and thus causing the issues of computers to overheat.

Efficiency of the system

Today’s Computer working is tougher as people are working on multiple applications simultaneously or tends to play HD graphic games hence producing more warmness. However, to avoid this problem, increase the system’s efficiency and change your Task Manager settings, and close applications when using them. Moreover, if your system becomes hotter than usual while playing, lower the game resolution and decrease the graphics settings.

However, Windows 10/11 users have to follow an additional set of methods due to computer overheat problems that have accompanied that Windows upgrade. We shall discuss them further in the article.

If your Computer is overheating and your battery life is heading for a complete meltdown, this could be attributed to a runtime broker process.

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