Beat the heat: 7 tips for a cool PC


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So you’ve checked your CPU temperature or GPU temperature, and the number you got has you worried. Or maybe you just noticed that your PC is running hotter than usual.

You can do several quick things to ensure that your system lives a long, cool life. Just run down our checklist and you should see some improvement. The list is ordered from the simplest (and cheapest) suggestions to the more invested or involved ones.

Note: As you check over your PC, don’t forget to verify that your parts still run properly. (No broken fans, dried-up closed-loop CPU coolers, etc.) Do that first to save yourself time in the long run.

Clean out your PC

person uses can of compressed air to clean out PC anete lusina /

For minimal clean-up of your surrounding area, take your PC outdoors before blasting away internal layers of dust.

We mean physically—depending on where you live, even new PCs can have a fairly deep build-up of dust and pet fur. (During the California wildfires last year, more than one PCWorld staff member had to switch to a more frequent cleaning schedule for fans filters, as particulate layered up quickly.)

Wash your dust filters. (Or at least wipe them down.) Take a can of compressed air and blast away the grime inside your PC, too, especially on fans. You can read up more on how to safely clean the inside of your PC in our quick guide.

For most PCs, getting rid of internal schmutz can make the biggest difference in system temperatures.

Make sure your fans are facing the right way

case fans filling view Alaina Yee / IDG

Can you name the directions these fans face? (Spoiler: The center one is showing its intake side, while the two flanking it are set as exhaust.)

Sometimes when installing case fans, you accidentally set their direction the wrong way. Discovering this mistake is mildly embarrassing, but rectifying the problem absolutely pays off.

To verify that all of your case fans are blowing air in the correct direction, simply open up your PC and have a peek at each fan. You should be able to tell at a glance which way they’re oriented. If the blades curve away from you, that’s the intake side. If they instead curve toward you, that’s the exhaust side. (You can check out our guide for more details on how to tell which way your fan is blowing.)

In order to pull in cool air from outside the case, the intake side of the fan should be facing outward, so that it’s the side closest to the case’s panels. If you want to get rid of the hot air inside your case, then the exhaust side of the fan should be pointed outward.

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