Why do computers get hot

A computer is really a collection of electronic devices working together in harmony. You have the central processing unit (CPU) and the computers random-access memory (RAM) for instance, held together by the motherboard which also contains several discrete components to manage data transfers and the like. There are also a collection of separate parts, such as the power supply, disk drives and memory card readers to name a few. All of these electronic devices generate heat. The reason for this is that as electricity passes through the components, the resistance of these components uses up some energy which is released as heat.

Some components such as hard disk drives also have moving parts and motors which generate heat, which is why disk drives often get hotter than other components. Hardware like DVD-RW drives will mainly get hot while doing a lot of disc reading or especially hot while writing. To write information to a compact disc or DVD the drive will use a laser which also adds significantly to the heat generated.

If you notice that your computer is getting too hot, it may pay to invest in some extra cooling equipment. With old PCs, if something overheated, it would break. However, these days CPUs especially have a mechanism known as thermal throttling that will force the CPU to slow down if it becomes too hot. Even so, it may pay to invest in cooling devices to help your computer run at its optimal speed while not overheating. There are many options available — standalone fans that can be installed in an empty drive bay to cool a hard drive, extra case fans to improve the air flow in your computers case and even water cooling solutions that can be great value for money.

Laptops are prone to getting much hotter than desktop computers, mainly because there is less room inside them. Some are really well designed so the difference may be almost unnoticeable. Others can get so hot they can’t even be kept on the lap or it becomes uncomfortable. As with desktop computers, there are a number of solutions for cooling laptop computers. If you mainly use the laptop at a desk or table, one of the cheapest options is to simply buy large rubber feet to raise the laptop higher from the surface and increase the air flow underneath it. There are also stands you can buy, with or without fans built in that can do the same thing while using the laptop on your lap.

Although you cannot stop a computer or a laptop from generating heat, you can at least use these solutions or others to lower the temperature to more reasonable levels.