Hot ComputerThe last article, at Computer Repair Vancouver, discussed how hardware problems can cause a slow computer. In it, we focused mainly on RAM and hard drives, noting that these two pieces of hardware were often the culprits. Furthermore, we took a look at how to test these two hardware components for potential problems. Additionally, we gave a few tips regarding random access memory repair as well as hard drive repair.

Today we are going to look at overheating, and discuss how this seemingly innocuous problem can actually create computing problems, including a slow computer.

What is an overheated computer?

In actuality, a computer works through varying voltages. Computer parts don’t communicate through English, Spanish, French, or any other language. They communicate through binary (a number system based upon 2 values – zero or one). However, they don’t actually write down the numbers zero or one; this would be slow and inefficient. What they do is rely upon the transmission of high and low voltages.

We here at Computer Repair Vancouver don’t have a great deal of physics knowledge (as we haven’t done much reading on the subject); however, according to what we do know – the transmission of electrons inherently causes heat as a result of friction. Consequently, the more information being sent, and resulting increase in the number of voltage changes (and electron movement) create increasing temperature within your computer. This is why these days, when computers are operating at billions of cycles per second, overheating can be a problem.

The parts we are most concerned about when it comes to overheating are the central processing unit (CPU) who is the brains behind the operation, and the graphics card who is oftentimes involved in 3D mathematics. In these two areas a great number of calculations take place and, hence, a great deal of heat can accrue.

The Central Processing Unit

As mentioned, the Central Processing Unit (generally shortened to CPU) is the brains behind your computer system. The CPU is where all the calculations take place as well as the place where all the really important decisions are made. Consequently, information is constantly moving in and out of it.

One of the most common ways to cool down the CPU is to put, what is known as a heat sink, on it. A heat sink is generally a piece of conductive metal placed on top of the CPU. This allows for heat to easily move from the central processing unit to the heat sink – reducing the CPU’s temperature. A heat sink can either be small or large, with larger heat sinks generally being used when more heat must be drawn away.

A few computers these days also have liquid cooling systems where liquid runs around various hardware components of a computer. This, once again, is used to draw heat from the CPU itself.

CPU’s optimal temperature

After doing a little research, Computer Repair Vancouver determined that a CPU should generally stay below 95 degrees Celsius (if you want Fahrenheit you will have to use a translator). The optimal temperature rand seems to be between 70 degrees Celsius and 90 degrees Celsius according to the computerhope.com website. In actuality, the optimal temperature actually depends on the type of CPU you have. Take a look here for a list of optimal temperatures. If you need to find the type of CPU you have, take a look in your manual or download a system information tool like Speccy.

Test a CPU’s temperature

One of the best ways to test your CPU’s temperature is by putting your finger on it and seeing if it burns. Just kidding! In truth, the best way to test your CPUS’ temperature is to download a free software application from the Internet which is designed for this purpose. One of the better ones is AIDA64, formerly known as Everest.

Here is how Computer Repair Vancouver would test our CPU

  1. Visit the AIDA64 download site and download the trial version.
  2. Install the program
  3. Click on Sensor located under the Computer tab on the left side of the window
  4. Look at the CPU row and note the temperature

Repair a Computer’s CPU temperature

If your computer’s CPU temperature is within the normal range then everything is probably fine. However, if your CPU temperature is definitely too hot there are several things you can do to help repair the problem.

  1. Open up your computer case and get rid of any excess dust (you can use an air can for this)
  2. Take a look at the heat sink on the CPU and see if it is coming off or improperly mounted. Computer Repair Vancouver recommends that if this is the problem, you should take it into a computer repair shop. Messing with your CPU is generally a bad idea; you can potentially frazzle it.
  3. If your computer uses a cooling system, see if it appears to be working correctly. If it is not, once again, we recommend that you take it into a technical support or computer repair shop.

The Video Card

The video card (often referred to as the graphics card) is the device responsible for graphical calculations as well as sending information to your monitor in a form it can understand. In the past video cards weren’t that important; however, today with so many graphical calculations (particularly for 3D games and 3D software applications) they have become common place.

Once of the reasons why overheating can become a problem with video cards is because they have a GPU (graphical processing unit – basically the graphics card equivalent to the central processing unit). It is here where all of the graphical calculations take place. Just like the CPU, described above, this is where voltages constantly change and the resulting friction can create heat problems.

GPU’s optimal temperature

Much like the central processing unit, the optimal temperature for a GPU varies. Having done some reading online, though, Computer Repair Vancouver thinks that you shouldn’t be worried until the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Celsius. If you want to know the exact value for your system, however, crack open your computer’s manual and look through the specifications. They should be listed there.

Test a GPU’s temperature

Here is how Computer Repair Vancouver tests our GPU temperatures

  1. Go and download SpeedFan.
  2. Install the program and start it up.
  3. Under the Readings tab take a look at the row labeled GPU.
  4. If your GPU states 0 Celsius then it probably isn’t supported by this software. You can attempt to find out the temperature via your BIOS; however, we won’t  go into that here.

Repair a Computer’s GPU temperature

Repairing a computer’s GPU is very similar to repairing a computer’s CPU. Here are the options

  1. Look inside your computer and remove any dust (preferably using an air can)
  2. There are oftentimes heat sinks connected to a GPU. Take a look and see if the connection is a solid one. If it is not then take it into a computer repair shop and have it reconnected. Once again, we advise against you doing this yourself unless you are very knowledgeable.
  3. If your computer uses a fan or cooling system, but it isn’t working then see if you can determine the problem. If you are great! If not, Computer Repair Vancouver advises you to take it into a computer repair shop in order for the professionals to have a look.

What’s next?

If your CPU’s temperature and GPU’s temperature were both within the appropriate range, or if you fixed the problem and you are still experiencing a slow computer then it is time to move onto the next step – dealing with registry problems.

The next article posted to Computer Repair Vancouver will cover this topic. W e will begin by briefly discussing what the Windows registry is, as well as how it can lead to a slow PC. Additionally we will take a look at how to repair a computer’s corrupt or bloated registry (in hope of fixing our machine).