Having the PC well cooled is a must, not only because this will affect the performance and stability of the equipment, but also because may end up reducing its useful life. It is no secret, excess heat is not good for semiconductors, and therefore neither is it good for the processor, graphics card, RAM, SSD and any other component that uses chips.
Under normal conditions, an excess heat problem need not cause serious damage, in fact most likely nothing will happen beyond a drop in performance or at worst, a crash or a system reboot. This is because many of todayâ¤?s components have built-in protection systems that, if abnormal temperature peaks are detected, they kick in to prevent further damage.
However, the above does not mean that these components are immune to heat and that we can be confident, in fact the opposite is true. When a component, such as a processor, for example, works at too high a temperature continuously, premature wear can occur at the silicon level which will eventually cause it to stop working. The same applies to other components, obviously.
Keeping the PC well cooled will keep the components from having temperature problems, and this will allow them to have a longer service lifeto function in a more efficient way totally stable and achieve their peak performance. This last aspect is very important, since, as many of our readers will know, today many components scale their working frequency according to the temperature they register, which means that if we do not have the PC well cooled its maximum frequency peaks will be reduced, and with it its performance.
What should I do to have my PC well cooled?
In this article we will give you five tips that will help you to be clear about itand that will allow you to have a basis on which to start optimizing your equipment, whether you already have it assembled or if you have not yet taken the step. However, remember that if you already have an existing PC, and you want to improve its cooling, the process will be more tedious, as you may have to disassemble and assemble components.
As I always tell you, if you have any doubt after reading this article you can leave it in the comments and I will be happy to help you solve it. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
1.-Be aware of the needs of each component
It is the central pillar of this article, and it must be so in order to assemble a well cooled PC, since not all components need the same type, or the same power, of cooling. Let’s see it with a very simple example, imagine that you want to build a new computer, and that the heart of it will be an Intel Core i5-12400. In this case, you do not need a very powerful cooling systemas the processor has a base TDP of 65 watts, and a peak of 117 watts in turbo mode.
The cooling system that comes from home would be sufficient to control that Intel Core i5-12400, although ideally we would mount a slightly more powerful solution to keep it below 70 degrees. On the other hand, if we are going to mount an Intel Core i9-12900K, we will have to look for a much more powerful cooling system, since it has peak power consumption that reaches 226 watts at stock frequencies, and 286 watts with overclock In this case a 360mm liquid cooling kit with three fans would be ideal.
The same applies to graphics cards, although these always come with a pre-installed cooling system, so, depending on the consumption of each particular model and the quality of its cooling system, we may find ourselves with optimal, good, acceptable and not recommended configurations. This is not a topic that we should take lightly, and is that the difference between a good cooling system, with a large radiator and three fans, and a mediocre one, with a smaller radiator and a turbine fan, can be, when we talk about a high-performance graphics card, up to 20 degrees.
In the case of other components, such as for example the SSD or RAM, a passive cooling system, such as a radiator or a metal chassis, is sufficient. This type of system could result in relatively high temperatures, but will prevent heat from accumulating on the chips, and distribute it over the surface of the radiator or chassis. If we have a good airflow in the PC, both will benefit from this and record lower temperatures.
Why is it so important?
Because a component that does not have the cooling it needs will underperform, it can end up causing stability problems, will hinder proper operation of the equipment may, in extreme cases, “die” earlier than expected.
2.-Airflow is essential to have a well-cooled PC
What we have seen in the previous point is that, ultimately, each component must have its own cooling system according to its needs. That is the plane that we can call individualized cooling of each component. However, as we have different components enclosed within a chassis, waste heat is produced and trapped inside the equipment.
If that heat builds up, the internal temperature can skyrocketand this would cause the cooling systems of each component to have to work harder to compensate for this temperature increase. We have, therefore, two possible scenarios, one in which these cooling systems have to work harder than normal, which could shorten their useful life, and another that would occur in the event that they can no longer give more, which would lead to an increase in the working temperature of each of these components.
To prevent this from happening, and to have the PC well cooled, it is necessary to create a good airflow, especially in small and compact equipment, because the internal space is more limited and the heat transfers between components occur relatively easily. So how do I create good airflow? Although the execution may vary depending on chassis size and component layout, in the end it all boils down to a very simple idea: creating an air flow in and out.
The most basic, simple and effective way to create that airflow to have a well-cooled PC is to have, at least a couple of fans at the front of the chassis, and at least one fan at the rear of the chassis. With that configuration we would be pulling in cool air with the two front fans, and pulling out hot air with the rear fan. This would be enough to prevent heat build up, and generate that cool airflow that can help components using passive cooling systems.
Why is it so important?
Because an equipment that does not have a good airflow will end up registering high temperatures in all its componentsand this can lead to serious problems, including performance losses, crashes and system reboots, even if each component is individually well cooled.
3.-Careful with the placement of the fans
We have already seen that, in order to have the PC well cooled, we need to create a good airflow. To achieve this, we must be clear about the direction in which we want to generate that airflow, and place the fans in the right way. This is the basis, but we must not forget that, in addition, the most basic rules of thermodynamics will also come into play, and that going against them can play a dirty trick on us.
Following the example given in the second point, to have a well-cooled PC it will be enough, in almost all cases, to create a current of cold air entering from the front and hot air leaving from the rear. To achieve this, we must move the air in that direction, that is, in a linear way with input from the front and output from the rear. However, we must be careful not to introduce any other fan that may adversely affect the airflow.
I introduce that nuance because many use a classic cooling system with radiator and fan for their CPU, but are not always aware of how that fan should be oriented. Since we are creating an airflow from right to left, the CPU fan should also work in that directionotherwise it would be pushing air in the opposite direction. To know if you have placed the fan correctly, you just have to remember that the “pretty” side is the one that draws air, so if you want to get hot air out of the PC it should be facing inwards, while if you want to get cold air in, it should be facing outwards.
I do not want to end this section without specifying the thermodynamics issue I have referred to. As many of our readers will know, hot air rises naturallywhich means that, inside a PC, the accumulated heat can also escape through the top of the chassis if the chassis has openings in that area. If we wanted to improve the airflow by placing fans in that part, they would have to be oriented inwards, i.e., they should draw air to the outside, and not the other way around, since we would be fighting against the natural tendency of warm air, and this would be counterproductive.
Why is it so important?
It is important because if we place the fans in the wrong orientation we can totally or partially block the air flow we wanted to create, and this could contribute to the accumulation of hot air inside the equipment, which is totally contrary to what we are looking for.
4.-Thermal paste well applied and in good condition, a very important issue
The thermal paste plays a much more important role than many believe, and is that without it, we could not have our PC well cooled. The reason is very simple, think, for a moment, what would happen if you join the IHS of a processor with the copper base of a fan, or a liquid cooling kit, without applying thermal paste. Yes, there would be a heat transfer between the two, but it would not be optimal, and in the end we could end up having serious temperature problems.
The above has an explanation, and that is that, in the end, both metal surfaces not only do they not have a completely uniform and regular surfacebut they also usually have microscopic spaces where small deposits of air and dirt can get trapped, which will make the contact even worse than you would imagine. Applying thermal paste creates an additional contact layer that solves all these problems, and accelerates heat transfer between the two components.
Using the thermal paste is not complicated, but we must be clear about how to do ita too small amount can cause problems, and an excessive application is not recommended either, especially because it can spill and smear the motherboard or the socket, if the processor is removed at some point. To apply the thermal paste correctly, it is advisable to put a drop on the scepter of the processor or GPU, whose size should not exceed that of a small pea, and then let it spread naturally by the pressure that will make the contact base of the heatsink.
With the passage of time, the thermal paste will lose its properties and will go so far as to dry out, which will cause that optimal contact base between the CPU, or GPU, and the radiator to be lost. If this happens, heat transfer will no longer be as fast, or as good, and we will start to notice higher and higher temperatures. If we do nothing, we could end up with serious temperature problems, which brings us to the fifth and final section.
Why is it so important?
Well, because without the thermal paste it is impossible to have that optimal contact between the CPU, or GPU, and the radiator contact base of the cooling system, so that heat transfer will be very low, and heat will build up to an unsustainable level in these components. If it is in poor condition and has deteriorated over time, we will find the same situation.
5.-Care for wiring management, and maintenances
Cable management has become much easier in recent years, thanks, above all, to the care taken by motherboard manufacturers with the distribution of the different connectors, to the facilities provided by PC chassis manufacturers, which enable increasingly intelligent wiring management and with less effort, and also to the democratization of modular power supplies.
A PC with good cable management will have fewer elements that can affect airflow internal airflow, and also a cleaner and more attractive aesthetic, although its impact is relatively small, unless we make a mess or have opted for a very small chassis. Nonetheless, it can certainly help keep the PC well cooled, and so we should give it the value it deserves.
As for maintenance, I’m talking about two major keys keep the PC clean, and the thermal paste in good condition. I could also bring up the thermal pads used by some components, such as graphics cards, but these have a longer life span and, in most cases, we will end up buying a new one before we need to consider changing pads.
There is no exact regime there is no exact cleaning and thermal paste changing regime that we should strictly follow, as this depends on many factors, such as the temperature and dirtiness of the area where the PC is located. So, for example, if we have it in a place where a lot of dust moves around, and the heat is considerably high throughout the year, it would be a good idea to clean it thoroughly at least once every two to three months. On the other hand, if it is in an environment where dust is minimal, we could reduce the maintenance to a couple of cleanings per year.
As far as changing the thermal paste is concerned, it is advisable to change the one in the processor at least once every two yearsif a standard thermal paste is used. If we use a high quality one, it will last longer. If you have any doubts on this subject, I encourage you to take a look at this article, where you will find all the information you need.
Why is it so important?
Because dirt accumulates on radiators and fansand reduces the effectiveness of these cooling systems, which in the end can end up causing major temperature problems and prevents us from having a well-cooled PC. In the case of thermal paste, it loses properties and dries out, preventing normal heat transfer between the component and the heatsink. In extreme cases, we could encounter problems of stability and, ultimately, heat loss, when the thermal paste has turned to gritit is easy for the component to “die”.