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This Is How to Tell if Your Computer Is Overheating

published 4/21/2021

Has your computer been randomly shutting off and you can't figure out why? You might be dealing with an overheating computer, as they're designed to shut down when things get too hot so as not to catch fire or damage the components.

But how do you know if that is what is causing the problem and not something else?

Here is how to tell if your computer is overheating and what to do about it.

How To Tell If Your Computer Is Overheating

The first sign that a computer is overheating is if you feel excessive heat coming from the desktop or laptop.

On average, your desktop should sit around 30 degrees Celsius when idling and no more than 70 to 80 degrees Celsius under heavy loads. If you find your desktop going above that, then this is a sign that your computer is overheating.

For laptops, you're always going to deal with higher temperatures on average. Laptop components are very close together and have limited cooling because they're in an enclosed space. While your laptop may idle higher at around 40 to 60 degrees Celsius, it still shouldn't hit above 90 degrees Celsius.

What Causes An Overheating Computer?

The cause of overheating and be varied. It could be something simple like too many programs open at one time, causing your system to overheat. Or maybe you haven't cleaned out the dust in a long time.

Regardless of what is causing it to overheat, you should address the problem ASAP.

Not Enough Cooling

One reason that your computer is overheating is because of a lack of cooling. If you have a high-end processor on your desktop or laptop, but not enough heat disbursement, then you're going to be dealing with an overheating CPU.

Cooler Damage

If your computer was working fine previously with the cooler and it suddenly stops, it could be from cooler damage. There are multiple points where a cooler could have failed, depending on the type of cooler that your system has.

For air coolers, there could be a problem with either the fan or heat spreaders. If the fan isn't working, it isn't pushing enough hot air away from the system. If the heat spreaders are cracked, they can't properly disperse the heat.

Damaged Components

Your CPU, motherboard, or even power supply could be faulty, and what is causing the overheating. A CPU is designed to monitor the amount of voltage it is receiving and the temperature that it can handle. It should throttle down in the event that it gets too hot, known as thermal throttling.

A motherboard delivers power to the CPU and has VRAM around the CPU to properly handle the workloads thrown at it. If the motherboard no longer controls the heat of the VRAM, then it will shut down the computer.

Your power supply delivers the voltage to the other components. While the other components control the amount of voltage that they can receive, if the power supply doesn't listen, then you could end up with an overheating computer.

Poor Airflow

Your computer might not have the airflow required to bring in cool air or move out hot air. This could be from being too enclosed in the case, a lack of fans, or having it in an area that is constantly warm.

Too Much Dust

Too much dust can kill your computer. It blocks up fans, sits on your components which creates insulation and can even fry components.

How Can You Fix an Overheating Computer?

Depending on what the problem is, there can be multiple solutions to try and fix your computer problems. Every situation will be different, so you might have to play around with multiple options.

Increase Airflow

If poor airflow is the problem, simply increase the amount of airflow that the computer gets. You might need to get better fans that intake cold air or you might need to bump the AC down so that the house itself is colder.

Be sure to tackle the dust in the case. Dust can build up on fans and vents, which can defeat the purpose of more fans and increased airflow.

For laptops, you can put them on a ventilated surface. A DIY method would be to use a cooling rack for baking goods.

Reapply Thermal Paste To Existing Cooler

Sometimes the thermal paste that goes between the CPU and cooler will deteriorate over time. When this happens, heat is not moved from the CPU to the cooler, causing the CPU to overheat.

To reapply thermal paste, you'll need to take apart the computer and remove the cooler from the CPU.

If you don't feel comfortable doing that, you can always send it to one of our locations to help you out. We'll make sure all hardware is working correctly and get your computer running to peak performance again.

Upgrade Your Existing Cooler

If your existing cooler is damaged or not up-to-par to handle your workloads, you can always upgrade to a more powerful option.

You have two options, one being air-cooled and the other being liquid-cooled. Air-cooled PCs are the most common and simply use a dispenser with a fan to push the hot air away from the CPU.

Liquid-cooled PCs utilize water to move heat away from the CPU. The hot water is then moved to a radiator that also has fans and will push the hot air away. The hot water is then cooled and brought back to the CPU to go through the process again.

Don't Let Heat Ruin All Your Hardwork

Now that you know how to tell if your computer is overheating, try and take care of it as soon as possible. Letting your computer constantly overheat can ruin the components. Having to replace these components can be costly and can even result in lost data.

If you need help from the experts dealing with your computer, be sure to contact us and schedule an appointment at one of our many locations. We'll get your computer back to you and walk you through the steps to help prevent this from happening again.