20 Ways On How To Lower Your CPU Temp

A computer contains a lot of components that when turned on heats up to almost twice the room temperature. Almost all of these components like the processor (CPU) and graphics card (GPU) requires active cooling while in operation. These components can get so hot that you can literally use them for cooking.

If you don’t believe me go ahead and crack open an egg on top of a running CPU or just look at the BIOS temperature, whichever is easier for you.

Computer Temperatures

Computers components are manufactured to function at high temperatures, but because it is capable of running hot doesn’t mean that you have to let it.

This will lessen the computer’s lifespan and make it susceptible to overheat damage.The most common “overheaters” are the CPU and GPU.

computer temperature

Notice that these two components are often the most expensive components inside your computer. It’s because the CPU and GPU take on most of the computing load thus they tend to run hotter than other components.

Ideal room temperature is below 85 ℉ or 30 ℃. Computers often run about 30% to 40% hotter compared to room temperature. So target this as a safe temperature for your computers.

A bad CPU temp will start at 140℉ or  60 ℃. Although CPUs are built to function extensively even on much higher temperatures. Older processors routinely reach 185℉ or  85 ℃.

A bad GPU temp also starts at 140℉ or  60 ℃. Although GPU manufacturers like NVIDIA states that their GPUs can still function at 220 ℉ / 105 ℃. The GPU driver will throttle down performance to attempt to bring temperature back underneath the maximum specification or shutdown the system to prevent damage to the graphics card

If you are now asking “how to lower CPU temp?” or “how to lower GPU temp?”. Fear not, we got you covered. Here are 20 computer cooling solutions that anyone can do. Many are free or very inexpensive, so there's really no excuse to let your computer suffer overheating.

Something Doable Right Now

1. Place your computer where it’s as cool as possible

Find to coolest corner in your room and relocate your computer there. If your room has air conditioning, place the computer as close to an air conditioning vent as possible. If you do not have air conditioning, then room air circulation is important.

Place an electric fan or use an exhaust fan to circulate hot air coming out of the computer. with an oscillating fan or by placing it near a window with some air circulation.

2. Give computers sufficient clearance from walls or cabinets.

Make sure your computer has a few inches of space from solid walls. This would allow the case fans to effectively circulate hot air. The computer should not be tightly packed in like a book on a shelf. Also, keep draperies, curtains and other fabrics away from computer fans.

3. Don't place your computer on the floor

Computer casings are designed with “footings” to elevate computer, thus, its theoretically fine to place them on floors. But dust, dirt and even your pet’s hair accumulate more at floor level, making it more likely for computers to take in those fan guzzlers.

4. Reduce or stop unnecessary application use

All computer applications use the CPU. Each application will make use of the CPU’s computing power. When a CPU is busy working, it generates heat. More applications will mean more heat generated.

Regularly check for background applications that are not really needed. Many common applications have default settings that make them start together with the Operating System. A few examples are iTunes helper, messaging apps and - gasp!- torrent clients.

Regularly run anti-spyware and anti-virus software to find and remove unwanted programs.

5. Don’t allow smoking near your computer

Cigarette smoke will be drawn into your computer and stick nicotine tar all over your components. This thin layer of tar on the electronics would not only smell bad but lessen heat dissipation. Cigarettes are indeed deadly, even to PCs!

Steps That Requires Simple Dirty Work

6. Check and clean all the fans

You should “open up” your computer from time to time. When I say open up, I mean open the casing to check. This is similar to someone opening a car’s hood to check the engine.

clean all the fans

Usually removing a few easy-to-find screws or popping a simple latch is all you need to do to inspect the inside of your computer. Make sure you do this when the computer is off.

Once the case is open, turn the computer back on and make sure that all internal fans spin up and operate consistently. You should see two or three internal fans in your average computer.

If you have a dedicated GPU, checking the fan is a good way to maintain safe GPU temp. See Tip # 10 for more details.

7. Use a dust blower

Dust and debris can collect around the air vents, fans and computer components. This will restrict heat dissipation and prevent proper air flow. A dusty computer will get hotter internally and generate more heat externally.

Turn off and unplug your computer. Take to an open spot where there are no people, pets, clothes or anything that can be ruined by a thick cloud of dust. Be mindful of your surrounding because your computer could expel a nasty amount of dust.

Use canned air, an air blower or a vacuum switched to reverse to blow away the dust. Use short bursts of air and apply air to all corners and surfaces. You only need about a minute or two of cleaning.

Some industrial air blowers are too powerful.and might unhinge some solder or wires. So use even shorter bursts of air and maintain about a foot of space between the computer and the air nozzle.

8. Don’t overlock

Some people, me included, like to speed up a computer by tweaking CPU, RAM and GPU speeds. This “overclocking” will make it run faster by going beyond the recommended settings.

While this can squeeze more speed and power out of your system, it will also cause it to run hotter, making it more likely to overheat.

Incorrect overclocking due aggressive increases in operating frequencies has led to many burnt components. Even a 10% increase could prove disastrous without additional or proper cooling.

So it is best to run everything at stock speeds to maintain a CPU and GPU safe temp range.

9. Arrange cables to maximize airflow

One aspect overlooked when assembling computers is the cable management. This is the arrangement of computer cables , both inside and outside the case, in an organized manner. Tie up excess hard disk cables, PSU wires, power cables and other wirings. You can use small tie wraps or rubber bands to tidy up. This will help maximize air flow while making your computer look neat.

Heatsinks and Fans

10. Check GPU Fans

One of the best ways to maintain a good temp for GPUs is to have a fully functioning cooling fan.

An effective way to clean a GPU fan is to remove it from the heatsink and submerge the entire fan in a cleaning solvent or alcohol. This is a bit tricky what with all the GPU grills and screws but nothing a newbie tech can’t handle.

In some cases, GPUs doesn’t even have fans on their heatsinks. Placing even a small fan either by screws or adhesives is another way to lower GPU temperature.

11.  Install additional case fans

Common computer cases only have 1 cooling fan located at the side panel. That won't be enough to effectively expel the heat generated by gaming components.

You can easily add another fan without modifying your case. Look closely at the back of your computer case. You would see a vacant cooling fan slot complete with a perforated grill.

Why computer stores or case manufacturers skip adding this second cooling fan is a mystery. They went through the effort of including this second slot in the case design. Why not go all the way and add one measly fan? Bonkers.

12. Improve Northbridge and Southbridge heatsinks

These are chipsets found on the motherboard. These two chips manage communications between the CPU and other parts of the motherboard,.  The northbridge which is connected directly to the CPU is responsible for high speed performance tasks. The southbridge typically implements the slower capabilities of the motherboard.

northbridge and southbridge heatsinks

Both chipsets typically has little cooling mechanisms. Most of the time, manufacturers only use small heatsinks for cooling. It’s even rarer for them to include heatsink fans. Early motherboards does not even have heatsinks for the Southbridge chipset!

It’s a bit difficult to find larger but compatible replacements for these heatsinks. What you can do is to a attach a small fan using screws or a strong adhesive on top of the heatsinks. Motherboards has spare 2 pin power allotments for system fans. You can use the motherboard’s manual to identify and locate them.

13.  Check PSU Fan

By default, the PSU has an exhaust fan. Together with the lone side panel cooling fan ( see TIP # 11 ), these two fans are responsible for expelling heat inside your computer case.

If the side panel fan conks out. You can visibly see that it’s not working. The PSU fan on the other hand is less visible. If this fan conks out and your BIOS is not intelligent enough to identify the error, it might go unnoticed.

This will endanger the entire system on two fronts. One, it will cause overheating. Second, without a cooling fan, it’s only a matter of time before the PSU burns out. I mean literally burns out, complete with a small explosion, fire and smoke.

It’s not only a hazard to the computer components but a fire hazard to your home or office. So checking the PSU fan is serious business. If the fan is faulty, you will need some technical prowess to replace it. It’s fairly easy for someone accustomed to electronics.  Otherwise, you'll need to replace the entire power supply.

14. Install RAM heatsinks

Most modern gaming RAM (Random Access Memory) sticks come with heatsinks. Modern games maximizes the system’s RAM to full capacity making it run hot. If you're the type who plays AAA games with everything maxed out, then you are putting a heavy toll on all your components, RAM sticks included.

If you have plain vanilla RAM sticks, there’s a big chance these would overheat. Attaching memory heatsinks will not only make your RAM look cooler, it will also run cooler.

Cooling Upgrades

15. Upgrade CPU HSF

Your CPU is the most heavily used and abused part inside your computer. If a modern CPU can boot up and run without a heatsink and fan (HSF) it will reach burning temperature in less than a minute. Good thing that before this happens, the CPU will shut itself down. It’s a safety feature of modern CPUs to avoid burning out the chip.

 A CPU is sold packaged with a standard HSF. In computer cooling parlance, standard means somewhere near the bottom of the line. While this standard HSF is capable of keeping the CPU running, it will not effectively lower your CPU temperature. You want the best answer on how to lower CPU temp? Upgrade the HSF.

 A Copper base, slimmer cooling fins, a larger and faster (maybe quieter) fan. These are some of the additional features you can expect from a HSF upgrade.

16. Upgrade CPU

The CPU is the brain of a computer. When a computer's CPU gets older, newer applications and games may prove to be too stressful. Every year, software makers increase the technical boundaries and churn out new games and applications with bigger requirements.

You can’t expect a CPU that struggles to play current games or applications to run new releases five years from now. This will be too taxing to the CPU, making it run at near 100% and will definitely cause overheating.

If you are experiencing repetitive reboots or Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). Then one possible culprit is an overheated CPU. If your motherboard can support a higher model CPU, then this piece meal upgrade could mean the difference between unusable to playable.

17. Replace Generic PSU

To expound more on TIP # 13 - Check PSU Fan. Generic PSUs are those that came with a generic casing. I have nothing about generic computer components. In my experience they work just fine. But, there is a reason why branded PSUs are more expensive than a generic type and that reason is……. MARKETING!

Just kidding, it’s not all marketing. Aside from better performance, branded PSUs have a bigger and better kickass fan, sometimes two of them, to cool off the computer. They also tend to have better components that give of less heat. So from a cooling point of view, it makes sense to upgrade to a branded PSU.

Creative Solutions

18. Open your computer case or use a caseless setup

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment. A desperate owner of a burning hot computer will just pry out the side panels to accelerate cooling. Dust concerns be damned! This gung ho approach removes the casing’s side panels to give more air flow. If your computer is located in an air conditioned room, then there is less concern for dusts.

Some enthusiasts assemble an entire computer without using a standard case. This caseless approach lays out all the components on a flat surface or open frame. This requires some serious DIY mojo with some designers incorporating the setup as wall accents.

19. Install water cooling kits

For high performing computers or those that are aggressively overclocked. Heat can build up so fast that the most efficient and largest HSF can't cool the CPU. In these extreme cases, installing a water cooling kit in lieu of a HSF is the best option. Water absorbs and transfers heat better than a metal HSF base. Also, with a water cooled system, the heat is moved through the water coolant rather than being blown around the case by the HSF.

water cooling kits

The water coolant is sealed inside the enclosed cooling kit. So worry not about water spilling out to ruin your computer. The coolant is pumped around the system to the pipes connected to the CPU. The water coolant will then absorb the heat before being pumped out as hot water. The system then cools this heated water before pumping it again to repeat the cycle.

Some external water cooling kits don't even require a fan, they use the surface area of a large metal radiator to dissipate the heat away from your computer. This makes it a much quieter option than fan based cooling.

20. Install a Phase Change Unit

Phase change units are the “big guns” when it comes to computer cooling. A phase change unit is the equivalent of a placing a refrigerator inside your computer. It utilizes many of the same refrigeration technologies to cool or even freeze a CPU.

phase change unit

The phase-change cooler unit, which looks like a gigantic PSU, has a tube to pass the coolant from the refrigerant to the processor. Inside the phase-change unit is a compressor much like those found in a fridge or air conditioner. This compressor converts (phase change) the coolant gas into a liquid form. This liquid coolant is then pumped up through the tube attached to the CPU, delivering an almost freezing cooling effect.

The liquid coolant will then pass through a condenser and then to an expansion device where the liquid evaporates (changes phase again) to repeat the cycle. This process can produce temperatures to around −15 to −150 °C (5 to −238 °F). Enough to essentially freeze the CPU.

Phase change units are a bit expensive with prices ranging from USD 1,000 to USD 2,000.

The extreme cold could also cause oxidation and rusting of components due to moisture getting inside your computer. So it’s very important to ensure proper insulation.

There you have it. Tons of ways on how to lower CPU temp plus a handful of tips on how to lower GPU temperature. Knowing the range of good temp for GPU and CPU is important. Refer to your CPU and GPU manual to get the safe operating temperature.

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