As PC gamers we love to push our PCs and games to the limit. We can’t help but crank up that extra setting, trying to squeeze out a bit more performance from our beloved rig.
Sometimes though, you’ll notice your PC really struggling. It happened to me 7 or 8 years back, when my gaming PC started stuttering, crashing, and generally throwing a hissy fit. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know. My first port of call was a temperate check, and sure enough my graphics cards were sky high. Overheating is the cause of number of problems with PCs, so I thought it best to take a look at leading causes and solution to PC overheating issues…
In terms of using a PC, gaming on it is pretty much up there with the most strenuous thing you can put it through. You’ve got a lot of components that need to run coolly, in a safe, stable temperature range, but once you get gaming it can get pretty stuffy in there. Overheating can lead to reduced performance for both your CPU and GPU, and can also shorten the components’ potential lifespan as well. The performance hit is beneficial in the end, because it reduces the temperature down to a safe level to prevent any permanent damage.
It’s always worth doing anyway, but in particular if you begin to notice performance issues, then a temperature check of your key components is the way forward. There’s a few good programs out there that can do this, which vary depending on what rig you’ve got.
AMD CPU owners will be best off with CoreTemp - this is no messing temperature tool that will let you know the overall temperature of your processor, as well as the individual cores.
Intel CPU owners can get their readouts from Real Temp - a temperature monitoring program dedicated Intel processors, ranging from single core CPU readouts right up to Core i7 processors.
For GPUs on the other hand, then GPU-Z will cover Nvidia, AMD, and Intel integrated needs.
Install these programs and boot them up and you’ll be greeted with the idling temps. In the grand scheme of things these don’t really matter, you’re going to want to push your machine to the max with these programs running in the background to get a good grasp on temperature issues.
Boot up something Metro: Last Light for 15 minutes or so and really put your gaming PC through its paces, then tab out and check your temperatures. For your GPU you’re going to be wanting to aim ~70c, but obviously SLI and CrossFire setups may push this up into the 80s. Any higher than 90c and you should be investigating if there’s a problem with your setup.
CPUs are a slightly different matter, and it’s easier to tell with some than others. Intel is generous enough to offer up a recommended Case Temperature for each of its cards, just search for your particular variant on ark.intel.com. AMD’s a little trickier here, so a lot of may come to researching your specific processor and getting some info on what range it should be. As a general rule of thumb, you’re probably going to be right to be concerned should your CPU be tipping 90c.
If you’re not sure, just take a moment to listen to your PC and you should be able to get a fairly good idea of an issue - under heavy load the fan will be making a bit of a racket.
Okay, so you’ve noticed there’s an issue, now what? Well, there’s five basic solutions, depending on what exactly the problem is…
Eliminate The Dust - This one’s pretty obvious, but hey, you never know! Your PC pretty much acts as a double-ended vacuum cleaner while it’s chugging along, so it’s only natural that a lot of dust is going to get caught on the fans, grills and components. This should really be your first port of call, so get your PC, get on your hands and knees, and get cleaning.
Overclocking - Overclocking is the bane of many a PC. It’s all too easy to go and fiddle around with your BIOS, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be done right. Many a fried processor stands testament to this. I’m not going to go into detail on overclocking here, but if you’re PC’s noticeably overheating and you’re running an overclock, then this is obviously your first port of call to sort it out.
Cable Tidy - I’ve touched before on a PC I built about 10-11 years ago; it was my first build and it wasn’t exactly a work of art to be proud of. Opening up the size of the case was a mess, that was reminiscent of hacking through hanging vines in a rainforest. I made it all and it worked. For a while. I had an SLI set-up going on here with a pair of 7800 GT’s, and it’s probably safe to say you could’ve comfortably fried an egg on my rig until I’d sorted it out.
Air flow’s crucial; make sure your CPU and GPU have plenty of space around them, and where possible use an elastic band to tie all your loose wires together. Most modern cases have a separate section behind the motherboard wall where you can stash a lot of the wires, provided you put a bit of planning in.
Improve Your Cooling - If you’re confident in your build ability then there’s always the option to simply improve your cooling. You can attempt all the other fixes here, but if your rigs just simply too powerful then you’re going to need some advanced cooling. A better fan or a better heatsink for your CPU are the easier options - for those who want to go a little further then there’s of course always the water cooling option.
Upgrade Your Case - While your gaming rig might have worked great when you bought it, after a few upgrades it can be a significantly different beast to what it was designed for. An extra GPU, a couple of new hard drives and a new processor can have a big impact on your PC. Your case might’ve been fine for your old spec, but if your case is too cramped or poorly ventilated for the other solutions, then a more spacious, well ventilated case could be the answer.
That’s your basics for an overheating PC, and they’re all things that it’s clearly worth keeping an eye on from time to time. Just because your PC works fine one day doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect the next, but these various solutions should cover the basics and sort out any overheating issues you have.
Any GD’ers ever fried any components through overclocking?
Ever opened your PC to witness a real-life dust bunny hop out?
Let us know!