Why Does My Computer Heat up So Fast?

There are several reasons that your computer may heat up quickly, and all of them are easily remedied and preventable, with regular maintenance and proper setups.

My name is Anthony, and I have been working with computers for 8+ years. During this time, I have worked on setting up systems and maintaining them, and heat is an issue that does come up from time to time.

Today we will be discussing what makes a computer heat up quickly. There are several reasons, like incorrect airflow, not enough fans, thermal paste may need reapplication, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure that your computer has adequate airflow.
  • Ensure that the programs you are running aren’t too intense.
  • Ensure the thermal paste on your CPU is fresh enough.

Reason 1: Incorrect Airflow

Sometimes the airflow inside your computer may not be going in the right direction. This can be caused by several things, including dust and debris that get caught in places where hot air is supposed to leave.

The best way to ensure you have proper airflow is to make sure you keep your computer clean, and dust free. You can buy cheap cans of compressed air in order to blow away any dust you may find on your computer. Once a month or more is good enough for most systems.

For laptops, this may mean that your computer is not on a good surface. Despite the name, laptops don’t actually work well when placed on your lap or other soft surfaces. They function best on cool, hard surfaces like a desk or a table.

This is because many laptops have smaller fans, with the exit for hot air being on the bottom. When it is on a hard surface the computer has a small gap between the surface and the fans. However, on a soft surface, a laptop’s fans can’t push air out because there is no gap.

Reason 2: Not Enough Fans

If you have a desktop computer, you may want to ensure you have the proper number of fans for the size of the computer and that they are all working. 

If a fan suddenly gives out, you may experience quick heating depending on the computer.

This is usually easy to check, and you can see if the fan is turning or not by opening the case of the computer. The most important fan to check is the CPU fan, as this takes the heat away from the CPU which is a very important task.

If a fan is not working, simply replace it with a new one. Most computer cases come with multiple case fans installed, so losing one may raise your temperature but you should be able to last until a new fan arrives.

Reason 3: Thermal Paste

Thermal paste is an important aspect of a desktop or laptop. With laptops, you often cannot check the thermal paste. However, in desktops, you can remove the CPU fan and check the heatsink underneath it.

The thermal paste is usually a white or silver paste that is between the heatsink and the top of the CPU. Its purpose is to transfer more heat from the CPU to the heatsink, which in turn gets transferred to the CPU fan and blown out of the case.

If the thermal paste is older or not enough is applied, you may notice temperatures rising in your computer. Thermal paste is relatively cheap, and can be bought in bulk to save some money. This allows you to change it whenever you want, although you shouldn’t have to too often.

Thermal paste is probably the least likely culprit of overheating, although I have seen it a few times in my years with computers. It is also probably the most work to fix, although even if that is not the issue it usually helps performance to renew the thermal paste every one in a while.

Reason 4: Graphics or CPU Intensive Programs

Sometimes a program or game can be more intensive than others. This can lead to overheating. Overheating from a game will usually come with playing the game for extensive periods of time, or on settings that are too high for the computer to handle.

A CPU intensive program would be something like detailed video editing. This can be very intensive on the processor, especially when rendering a video post-production. This can be alleviated by splitting up editing or rendering.

For example, if you are editing or rendering a 30-minute video, split it up into 5 minute or less sections and put it all together once they are all rendered. This will save your computer some processing power, and spread the intense work over a period of time.

Sometimes programs are badly optimized for certain hardware, and there is not much you can do about it unless the developers update the program. In this case, it is probably best to find an alternative program until that time.

It should be noted that usually heat problems with graphically or CPU intensive programs usually have one of the previous issues at play as well. It is always worth checking the physical aspects of your computer before assuming it is the program.

Closing Thoughts

There are aspects of a computer that can lead to heat issues, ranging from the hardware to the software running on a system. Checking each of these components is important to find out the underlying cause of a computer overheating quickly.

If any of this information helped you, leave a comment! Let me know your thoughts and any questions you may have.

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