Computers get hot. There’s no escaping that. When electricity gets passed through the central processing unit (CPU), it’s converted to heat energy. Unfortunately, excess heat is not good for your computer, so a cooling system is essential, whether you’re building a computer from scratch or need to make repairs. The two main types of cooling are air, from a computer fan, and liquid, and both types have their advantages.
Too much heat in a computer can potentially cause damage to different components, including the CPU and motherboard. Thankfully modern computers are designed to shut down if they get too hot, protecting the parts inside.
If you’re buying a ready-made computer, the cooling is built in and will easily keep the components cool during normal usage. However, all parts can break down, and cooling systems may need to be replaced over time. Computer fans are especially susceptible to dust buildup. Some of the symptoms of an overheating computer are unusual fan sounds, constant restarts or shut downs and regularly crashing or hanging.
Heavy-use computers may also need a more robust CPU cooler. Overclocking, or running the processor at a higher speed than intended, causes the CPU to run hot and will often need additional cooling. This is common in PCs used for gaming and those that run software for 3D imaging and video editing.
Air cooling is the most common type of computer cooling. It uses a combination of a computer fan creating air flow over the hot components and a heat sink that dissipates the heat out of the machine. As far as cooling is concerned, bigger is better. Bigger heat sinks are more efficient as they can absorb more heat, and larger fans can push more air through.
As air cooling systems are found in most computers, they are generally more affordable. They also require little maintenance once they’re in the computer, and they have a smaller learning curve, so repairs are easier to make.
Although fans are the louder option, larger fans are able to move more slowly, making them quieter.
CPU liquid coolers give better cooling performance than the air coolers. They are basically a radiator for your CPU, with coolant filled tubes running through your machine cooling the components. For high-performance and overclocked machines, liquid coolers bring a lower temperature to the computer. They also let you control where the cooling goes, allowing you to bring cooling to specific components. For example, many games work better with an overclocked graphics card, and liquid cooling lets you concentrate coolant to that area.
Liquid systems are also smaller, so they fit better in your machine. Keep in mind that they do require more maintenance and may take more time and research to implement correctly.
You can also find external options for keeping your computer cool. You can work in a room with good air conditioning, and a desktop fan can help keep you and your machine cool. Many of these plug into your USB port so you don’t even have to find a separate power source.
Computer fans and liquid coolers are used in laptops, but most people don’t do their own laptop repairs. If your laptop is overheating, a laptop cooling pad can help keep it cool and in optimal working condition.