Reducing Heat Inside the PC to Prevent Overheating
This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs.
Heat buildup can cause problems for any computer. Generally, when temperatures inside the case rise above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), the risk of damaging important internal components increases greatly. The most common cause of overheating is the accumulation of dust inside the computer. The electrical components in a computer generate heat and fans inside the computer help move the air to keep the components cooled to normal operating temperatures. Inadequate cooling can cause excess heat to build up inside the case which can damage components. The sound of the fan running constantly may indicate that the computer is not running as efficiently as possible and that there is a problem with accumulated dust clogging the air vents.
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Symptoms of heat issues and causes of excessive heat
The following list describes some of the issues caused by overheating in the computer:
- Games stop responding during play.
- Windows stops responding during use.
- Fans inside the computer become louder because they are spinning faster to remove the heat.
- When starting the computer, it sometimes stops at a black screen and does not open into Windows. Windows usually stops responding when it does open.
- Mouse and keyboard stop responding.
- Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP - Computer unexpectedly restarts or displays a fault message.Windows 95, 98, and Me - Frequent Fatal Exception, Illegal Operation, or General Protection Fault error messages occur in several software programs.NOTE:These errors are not predictable. If these errors occur only in one software program, the issue is probably related to that software program and is not heat related.
The following list describes some causes of excessive heat:
- Dust inside the computer.
- A new component, such as a hard drive, is added. The extra component causes the power supply to work harder and generate more heat. Extra heat also radiates off the new component and adds to the temperature inside the case.
- Over time, some cooling fans might slow down and wear out, depending on the usage of the computer.
- High ambient room temperature.
Step 1: Remove dust and lint by cleaning vents
Notebook PCs have vents located around the case to allow air to flow through the case. If these vents become clogged or heat generating parts become covered with dust, the fan cannot cool the components properly and overheating can become a problem. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder. If there is dust in the vents, you should clean the computer by blowing out the dust from around the fan and heat shield. This prevents dust from accumulating.
CAUTION:Ensure that the computer is turned off and the AC adapter is disconnected before spraying with compressed air to prevent damage to the notebook PC.
Use a can of compressed air (a vacuum cleaner on blow function or a hair dryer in cool air mode can also be used, though the can of compressed air is better suited for this task) to remove dust from the computer's vents and prevent overheating. Removing the dust increases the air flow to improve cooling and allows the fan to run quieter.
The cooling vents are located in various places depending on the PC model. You can identify the vents by looking for the copper or black fins inside the vents. You should also blow the compressed air into other openings such as the fan intake vent to help keep the air circulating and prevent dust from accumulating on components.
By taking this action periodically as a preventive measure, you can greatly reduce the possibility of component damage and prevent the slowdown of the computer's performance.
Step 2: Ensure proper space for ventilation
To decrease the likelihood of overheating problems, ensure the fans on your computer are able to ventilate properly. Proper ventilation for the system is important for workstation operation. Follow these guidelines to ensure adequate ventilation:
- Keep the computer upright and on a sturdy, level surface.
- Provide at least 15.25 centimeters (6 inches) of clearance around each vent.
- If the computer is being used at very high altitudes, above 1500 meters (5000 feet), take extra care to keep the computer cool. The maximum limit of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) drops 1 degree Celsius (~34 degrees Fahrenheit) every ~300 meters (1000 feet) of altitude.
Step 3: Use HP CoolSense technology
HP CoolSense technology can modify your notebook computer's temperature by using its motion sensor to determine whether the computer is being used in a stationary environment or a mobile one. By using this information it automatically adjusts both computer performance and fan speed to keep the computer cool. You can set HP CoolSense software to your specifications. For more information on this see HP Notebook PCs - HP CoolSense Technology
Step 4: Place the computer in a cooler room
If your computer is overheating, place it in a cooler room. A small difference in temperature might be all that is needed to prevent a component from failing. Move the computer to a cooler room in the house or office. If this is not an option, continue with the next step.
Step 5: Test for hardware failure
If overheating issues persist after cleaning the vents and moving the computer to a cooler room, a hardware component might be damaged. Test the computer to see if any hardware, such as memory, the processor, or the graphics hardware, have failed. Most HP and Compaq notebook computers have diagnostic software to verify hardware failures. For more information, see Testing for Hardware Failures (Windows 8) , Testing for Hardware Failures (Windows 7) , or Checking Your Notebook PC Using the HP System Health Scan for notebook computers running Windows Vista.
If hardware has failed, either replace the bad component or Contact HP for further assistance.
For more information on overheating and how to avoid it, refer to Fan Is Noisy and Spins Constantly, PC is Warmer than Normal or Tips for Using, Carrying, and Protecting your HP Notebook PC .