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As Temperatures Soar, What Can You Do To Help Your PC?

On Monday and Tuesday this week (July 18th and 19th), temperatures in both the UK and Europe are expected to start absolutely soaring. And by soaring, we’re potentially looking at something up to or in excess of 40 degrees celsius. – Put simply, things are going to get hot. Like, really hot.

So hot, in fact, that I’m worried I might possibly melt (I’m a creature of the cold!)

Putting the human/animal situation to one side though, when it comes to PCs or laptops, high temperatures are clearly never a good thing and the problem we’re all going to have over the next couple of days is that with higher ambient temperatures, this will result in higher operating temperatures for your system.

And let’s put this into context too. This isn’t just going to be a little bit hotter. In many instances, temperatures may be double what we might usually expect to see at this time of year putting systems in an unusual and potentially tricky set of circumstances. Not, incidentally, that I wish to downplay the impact that this could have on people or pets too though. So please keep safe folks!

Sticking with the tech side of things though, unless you keep your PC or laptop in a fridge (not a good idea), there isn’t much you can do during this heatwave to help improve things in that regard, right? Well, generally speaking, not really no. We’re all going to suffer in this heatwave. Well, unless you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning (which I’m not).

With the UK and Europe starting to (hopefully temporarily) melt though, let’s take a look at a few solid steps of preparation you can take to ensure that your system runs as best as it can under clearly very unideal and generally crap circumstances!

Step 1 – Give your PC/Laptop a Clean!

Really basic step here, but giving your PC or laptop a quick spring clean will definitely help it, not just in general, but more so with the heat. How will this help though? Well, dust prevents, restricts, and/or obstructs the overall airflow within your case. If we do hit temperatures in the region of 38-42C, your PC is already going to be absolutely gasping for air and quite possibly suffocating if dust is preventing a nice positive airflow.

So to help it out, give your chassis filters, fans, and air intakes/exhaust a quick check for dust and try and clear any excess amounts.

Step 2 – Open Things Up (Where Possible)

A number of more modern PC chassis designs allow the user to remove the front panel which, presuming you have intake fans, allows them to be better exposed to ‘fresh’ air. For just during the coming heatwave, opening your front panel up is probably going to be a good idea to help, if nothing else, ensure your components can get all the air they need.

You may even want to consider removing filters just for a day or two just to, again, help promote a stronger less restricted airflow. Of course, doing this over a lengthy period of time is a bad idea as dust will be able to just get inside your case. For just 1-2 days though, we’re pretty sure this will be fine. Well, presuming your PC is in a nice safe location where a child, for example, can’t test the resistance of your fan blades against their Action Man figurine.

With that being said though… – Don’t be tempted to remove any tempered glass or metal side panels though thinking this is going to be a perfect solution. Many cases are designed to specifically work best with a positive pressure air flow (air goes in through the front, out through the back and/or top.

By removing the side panel, you will be completely negating any airflow pressure and potentially restricting or removing entirely the flow of air over important components (such as your CPU cooler/AIO radiator). – By removing the side panel your PC system as a whole is, effectively, getting passively cooled, and this is not a good idea!

In short, keep your side panels on!

Step 3 – Positive Airflow All Around!

Airflow on a laptop/PC is always good, but consider taking this a step further (and wider). Try and ensure that the room you are operating your system in actually has some kind of airflow through or within it. We’re pretty sure you’re going to want to do this anyway, but having a fan (or two) running just to keep the air within the room itself circulating is not going to be a bad idea!

Leave doors in the house/office open, but try and resist the temptation to open external doors and/or windows. If you have blinds or curtains, keep them closed. The outdoor daytime temperature is probably going to be significantly higher than the indoor temperature, so by opening doors and windows, you’re only going to be letting more heat in! – So, with this in mind, don’t open any external doors or windows until the outside temperature drops below the inside!

In addition, ensure your PC has lots of open space surrounding it. If it’s on a carpeted floor (never a good idea btw) find something crude to just let it sit up a couple of inches. – If you (like my wife) decide to use a PC tower as an unofficial filing cabinet, put that paper somewhere else. Do whatever you can to keep the airflow throughout the room and PC exterior as clean, smooth, and as unobstructed as possible.

Step 4 – Tweak the Fans Settings

Within my system builds, I always have a poke within the BIOS settings to configure the fans to run as silently as possible. I’m personally willing to trade off a little airflow for notably lower acoustic output (some of you may agree with this approach, some may disagree). For Monday and Tuesday though, all of us should definitely be thinking about upping those fan speeds a little.

Consider going into your BIOS and tweaking the fan PWM settings to increase their idle (and by proxy all percentiles above) speed by around 10-15%. In other words, if your fans have an idle of 800RPM, consider, just for a few days, upping this to something like 925. – No, if the ambient room temperature is ridiculous it probably won’t make a huge difference. In terms of overall airflow movement pressure within the chassis, however, this will help ensure as little air as possible is ‘stagnating’ in the case interior.

Step 5 – Give Your PC a Holiday – It Doesn’t Have to Be High-End for EVERY Day Next Week

If you find your PC temperatures are just getting a little too hot during what will undoubtedly be a sweaty gaming session (for more reasons than one), there is a more abstract solution that you may not usually consider. – Presuming you might game at something like 4K or 1440p, you could consider dumping the graphics settings/resolution down a little.

Yes, sacrilege I know. Consider the point though that PC components tend to get hot (hotter) based on the merits of how hard they’re working. They’re not actually that dissimilar to us humans in that regard. As such, by toning down the graphics settings, even just a smidge, you’ll be taking some pressure off your GPU and CPU which will almost certainly result in a notable drop in their operating temperatures. And if they’re not generating so much heat, your PC fans don’t have to work so hard to try and keep things cool!

So although you might own a high-end super-fast gaming PC, while the heat is up, why not just let it have a couple of days of coasting with a bit of a lighter workload?…

Hey, here’s an idea! Why not find a bit of a potato game to enjoy for a couple of days! – I’m sure you have something in your Steam library capable of running with barely any resources. Otherwise though, for as painful as it might be for those of you on 4K or 1440p, maybe try going back to 1080p just for a couple of days.

Trust me, if we do hit around 40-42C, your PC will thank you for it!

What Do You Think?

Let’s be honest, unless you are lucky enough to be around or own an air conditioning system, the next few days are looking pretty certain to be an exceptionally miserable affair for most of us. Just remember though that we’re not the only thing that hates the heat, so be sure to show other things some consideration be it your pets, car, or even your gaming PC/laptop!

What do you think? Do you have any tips to help keep a system cool (that doesn’t involve something potentially illegal or likely to cause electrocution or a fire)? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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