PC Cooling – What You Need To Know

PC Cooling – What You Need To Know

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Does your gaming PC sound like it’s about to blast off, even when you’re simply navigating the desktop? Are you experiencing wildly fluctuating performance in-game, yet you aren’t changing the graphics? Are programs closing unexpectedly? These are all tell-tale signs that your PC is overheating. So here’s our guide to what you need to know about PC cooling.

Do high temperatures affect a component’s performance and lifespan?

For PC gamers, enthusiasts and overclockers, the biggest concern with inadequate cooling is thermal throttling. This is when a component’s performance rapidly declines as a safeguard against too high of a temperature. While no one wants less performance, it’s obviously a more amendable solution than a full-on crash resulting from unrestrained temperatures.

Manufacturers employ these measures only as a last resort to prevent damage – CPUs and GPUs can get quite toast otherwise! Their max operating temperature is often rated at 100°C or even higher – so, don’t worry. They’re engineered to withstand blazingly hot temperatures and won’t spontaneously combust.

A quintessential feature of modern components is their capacity to ‘boost’ – an automatic adjustment to clock speeds to ensure the highest performance based on many parameters, mainly temperature. A properly configured cooling solution gives your components extra headroom to boost to higher and higher levels of performance. Whereas with poor cooling, your component may initialise a boost, but immediately trigger thermal throttling.

Why should I upgrade my PC’s cooling?

Many processors from both Intel and AMD come with a cooler bundled in their boxes, referenced as a ‘stock cooler’ among PC building communities, as opposed to an aftermarket solution. Coolers are essential, otherwise you’d quickly hit the max operational temperature at the CPU’s die – ‘Tjunction’ for Intel CPUs and ‘Tjmax’ for AMD CPUs.

Stock coolers are greatly appreciated for getting a desktop PC up-and-running in no time with pre-applied thermal pastes and tool-less mounting mechanisms, but their cooling potential is severely lacking. You may be able to get away with a stock cooler in an office-tier PC with a power-sipping chip, but for a gaming-grade rig, it’ll nerf its performance.

The last situation you want is for your PC’s performance limited by your cooling of all things. Let’s compare the two main aftermarket solutions – an air cooler vs. an all-in-water water cooler.

AMD Prism Wraith Stock Cooler

How does an air cooler work?

An air cooler is comprised of three main parts: A base plate, heat pipes and a heatsink. Resting on top of the CPU, the base plate is the only direct point of contact. Heat produced by the CPU is efficiently transferred via an interface material (more on that later) to a base plate made from a conductive metal.

Aluminium is a cost-effective solution for PC cooling, but copper is a straight-up improvement with a notably higher watts-per-meter-kelvin (W/mK), around twice as much at an average ambient temperature. Copper has a higher price tag accordingly, so is used sparingly when most appropriate.

The heat isn’t held at the base plate for too long and is transferred upwards via heat pipes. Within these hollowed-out pipes is a liquid, when heated, evaporates into a gas. It rises up the heat pipe, shedding off heat to the surrounding heatsink. The gas eventually reaches its final destination – a cooled-down condenser – which transforms it back into a liquid, tricking down the heat pipe’s porous walls to the original point of evaporation to repeat the cycle.

Now, the heat is in the aluminium heatsink (rather than board-bending heavy copper) so they’re able to stack-up a lot of thinly sliced fins. Finally, with the heat evenly distributed over a greater surface area, a powerful static pressure fan can carry it away. A larger air cooler takes longer to ‘fill up’ with heat for sustained workloads.

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Air Cooler

Positives of an air cooler

Low Maintenance

Air coolers are very simple in their operation, leveraging the naturally occurring phenomena of evaporation and condensation. With no intricate inner-workings – just big ol’ blocks of metal – air coolers are best for set-and-forget applications.

If you’ve set-up your computer case for dust prevention, they require minimal maintenance and the air cooler itself will last indefinitely. You may need to clear out dust and replace a fan from time-to-time, but it’s nothing compared to the niggling reminder of an all-in-one water cooler dripping coolant on your components.

Low price tag

Due to their no-frills composition, air coolers can be ridiculously cheap too while offering up a worthy upgrade in temperatures and in turn performance.

You’ll pay more for a larger one, but it rarely eclipses the price tag of a comparable all-in-one water cooler. Air coolers are highly scalable, with Noctua’s renowned NH-D15 beating out many all-in-one water coolers through sheer thermal mass alone.

Noctua NH-D15 Air Cooler

Negatives of an air cooler

Size

This, however, allows us to segue straight into the negatives. Air coolers can be comically large, to the point of interference. Their towering size is unwieldy, spilling over RAM DIMMs and PCIe slots and only exacerbated by extra fans.

Cumbersome installation

Another strike against air coolers is their installation. While a stock cooler uses a convenient, clip-on mounting mechanism, a cumbersome aftermarket cooler isn’t as easy.

Wrangling a chunk of metal, all the while contending with backplates and fiddly screws, is dreaded by even experienced PC builders. With the heatsink dwarfing over the screw holes, it requires you to awkwardly angle a screwdriver and no doubt you’ll drop some screws in the rage-inducing process.

If you don’t double-check your dimensions for adequate clearance, you may not be able to install components or even close the computer case’s side panel. This strikes out an overwhelming amount of air coolers for smaller form-factor cases with less capable, low-profile coolers picking up the slack.

Does this look easy to install?

Need optimal air flow

For air flow, the air cooler’s location in most computer cases isn’t optimal either, stranded far away from any intakes. To ensure it gets enough fresh air to work with, your case fan set-up – as detailed below – needs to be optimal. And from a cosmetic perspective, you may not want such a dominating presence detracting from the rest of your rig.

How does an all-in-one water cooler work?

Ultimately, while both an air cooler and an all-in-one water cooler adhere to the same rules of heat dissipation, how they achieve their end-goal varies greatly. A closed-loop, all-in-one water cooler is comprised of four main parts – a water block, a pump, tubing and a radiator.

Like an air cooler, the process starts with the CPU and a base plate in direct contact, using thermal paste to form a heat-sharing bond with each other. However, an all-in-one water cooler’s heat plate is part of a greater block, which has the capacity to hold water. Heat from the base plate is carried away by the water as it gushes through machine-milled micro-fins of copper.

A pump – integrated into the water block on most all-in-one units – pushes the water around via tubing to a radiator that’s mounted at the computer case’s intake or exhaust. Here, the water’s heat is exposed to a large array of fins for static pressure fans to blow away. With the water cooled down, it’s circulated by the pump back down to the water block to repeat the loop.

Positives of an all-in-one water cooler

Easier installation

As an all-in-one water cooler is split in half – the block-combo and the radiator – it’s much easier to install. Compared to an air cooler, a water block is relatively small, making it pain free to screw down without encroaching on surrounding components.

Customisation & Personalisation

As there’s not a whole lot going on at the water block, manufacturers tend to tack-on embellishments like RGB lighting, infinity mirrors and even tiny screens to display hardware metrics… or memes. If customisation, personalisation and the cosmetic appeal of your rig matter, then an all-in-one water cooler is arguably more pleasing than a hulking air cooler.

Waterblock with screen

Easier performance

As a self-contained system, an all-in-one water cooler isn’t as affected by external influences as an air cooler. Adequate air flow is needed to reach an air cooler for it to work effectively, whereas an all-in-one cooler has its own dedicated radiator and fan set-up to independently govern its own temperatures.

Noise

Combined with the flow of cool water, they outperform air coolers on average. Neither option is whisper-quiet, but because of an AIO’s cooling advantages, the fans attached to the radiator can run a lower or even zero-RPM mode at idle temperatures. The sound of the pump pushing water around will always be audible, though many prefer its droning hum over a fan.

Negatives of an all-in-one water cooler

Water… in a PC?

The trickiest hurdle to overcome with an all-in-one water cooler is the incompatible idea of introducing water to a PC containing electrical components. Traditionally, we’re taught that water and electronics don’t get on well!

If the water cooler ever sprang a leak and spritzed water all over your system, it could cause irreversible damage. However, the likelihood of a leak is extremely rare – the pump’s more liable to fail beforehand.

Even when presented with years’ worth of failure rates and other reassuring statistics in favour of an all-in-one water cooler some may not feel comfortable with it, which is completely understandable. While designed to be as accessible as possible, they’re infinitely more complex than an air cooler.

Complexity & Price

This is accurately reflected in the price, too. The price of a simplistic air cooler starts low – or even ‘free’ with stock coolers – and scales accordingly with the increased mass of metal.

With an all-in-one water cooler, you aren’t only paying for the increased number of parts, but the research and development closely associated with them. Water block, pump, tubing and radiator – this is many more parts intermingling with each other, heightening the potential for failure. To ensure a water-tight seal, an all-in-one water cooler goes under extensive testing.

To control the flow of water, on-board software for the pump needs to be developed and fine-tuned too. And ultimately, an all-in-one water cooler is a rather niche product, yet manufacturing demands many independent processes. Making a pump differs from a radiator and the cost is partly passed onto the consumer.

Clearance

Although installing a water block on a CPU is considerably less fiddly than a bulky CPU cooler, the radiator’s clearance may cause trouble. Positioned away from other components they’re easy enough to install, but radiators are available in a broad range of sizes.

While smaller, single-fan 120MM radiators can comfortably accommodate a rear exhaust, double or even triple-fans radiators stretching up to a colossal 360MM in length may not. Make sure that you’ve checked your computer case’s dimensions. For instance, while the popular Corsair 4000D computer case supports a 360MM radiator in the front, the roof only supports a 280MM.

Plus, you shouldn’t just measure the thickness of the radiator by itself, but when fans are attached to it. This stacked-up depth may jut out too far and interfere with lengthy graphics cards and high-profile RAM. Here’s what you need to know about DDR5 memory.

What is thermal paste?

Your processor’s IHS, or integrated heat spreader (the metal outer shell shielding the fragile inner die) clamps against a cooler’s base plate to distribute heat kicked off the processor.

Bust out a magnifying glass and you’ll spot micro-abrasions running all along the exposed surface of the IHS and heatsink. Air’s a notorious insulator of heat and is easily trapped inside these imperceivable crevices, resulting in worse heat transfer.

A thermal interface material (TIM) fills up these pesky air pockets to create a bond between the ISH and base plate.

On PC building guides, walk-throughs and online stores, the more casual reference for TIM is thermal paste, grease or compound. It’s shipped in small tubes with syringe-like plungers, as you only need a teeny-tiny amount for efficient contact between the two surfaces.

Extreme overclockers buff-out their IHS and base plate with sandpaper to achieve a smoother surface, though a thermal paste does a lot of the heavy lifting for an average build.

Provided by: Alberto Garcia Guillen / Shutterstock.com

Stock Vs. aftermarket thermal paste

For the average PC build, thermal paste is only used between the CPU and CPU cooler. Depending on your choice of components, thermal paste is often pre-applied on stock coolers and all-in-one water coolers. Aftermarket air coolers tend to chuck a one-time use’s worth of thermal paste in-the-box.

Having a decently sized tube of thermal paste in a PC builder’s repertoire is come in handy for re-pasting when old, dried-out and flaky paste loses its effectiveness.

How do I apply thermal paste?

Online, the exact size and application technique has been fiercely debated, but a pea-sized blob smack-bang in the middle of the IHS is the general consensus.

No need to wrap your finger in a plastic baggie and or whip out an out-of-date gift card to painstakingly spread the paste to the IHS’s corners. The sheer clamping force of a weighty cooler is more than adequate to evenly distribute.

First-timers: don’t worry too much if there’s an excessive amount. Paste may squish out and spill over the CPU socket making for a messy clean-up, but you should always err on the side of slightly too much rather than too little when you are applying thermal paste, otherwise it may not cover the entire IHS.

Liquid metal

Many failed click-bait experiments have proved you can’t substitute thermal paste’s effectiveness for any old gloopy, spreadable material, like toothpaste. Particles of metal elements are suspended in a paste’s silicone, increasing thermal conduction.

Liquid metal – comprised entirely of metal – is the end-goal for PC cooling, but you’ve got to be extremely cautious when handling it. Liquid metal is not only highly thermal conductive, but highly electrically conductive too. One accidental drop and liquid metal is liable to short-circuit electrical hardware and cause irreversible damage.

Somehow, it’s even messier than thermal paste too, slowly eroding an aluminium base plate but not a nickel-plated one. As such, liquid metal isn’t for the feint of heart and is appropriately categorised as an enthusiast-level product.

Non-conductive thermal pastes

For a broad range of applications, a bog-standard thermal paste goes a long way. Technically, the metal sprinkled into thermals pastes can make it ever so slightly electrically conductive, but ultimately a negligible amount.

If you’re seriously concerned about spillages and leakages – maybe on a gaming laptop that’ll be jostled about – there’s also non-conductive, ceramic-based thermal pastes. They may not be as effective as a ‘normal’ thermal paste, but it removes any second-guessing from questionable applications.

Thermal pads

Thermal pastes shouldn’t be confused with thermal pads; squidgy, depressible cut-outs of material used to bridge a gap in-between two components.

They’re an ideal low-cost, re-usable solution for regulating the temperature of smaller components to acceptable levels: A graphic card’s voltage regulator modules, for instance. Or a thin, portable device like a smartphone – make sure to check out our ultimate mobile gaming guide – may use thermal pads as an alternative due to space limitations.

Case Fans – Air Flow Fans

Case fans are split up into sub-categories: Air flow fans, and static pressure fans. Air flow fans have one, unwavering objective – to move the most amount of air, as fast as possible. The volume of air a fan can displace is measured in cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM) and air flow fans tend to feature a higher CFM than other fans.

For optimal performance, air flow fans are heavily reliant on having no restrictions in their path. They’re able draw in a high volume of air, but lack the strength to force it through any meaningful obstacle. This makes them a popular option in open-air computer cases with mesh panels as intakes and exhausts.

Case Fans – Static Pressure Fans

On the other hand, the stand-out feature of static pressure fans is their innate power to channel air straight through a point of resistance. They move less air, but with a stronger flow.

Static pressure fans are great accompaniments for CPU coolers and water cooler radiators as their increased pressure has ample force to dissipate heat, even through their densely pack surface area of metal fins. Although this is their intended purpose, static pressure fans can also double-up as case fans in an appropriate situation.

If your computer case has a sizable obstacle pressed right up against a fan placement – a hard drive cage or a heavy-duty dust filter – an air flow fan with all the CFM would struggle hard to get past it. Whereas a static pressure fan, while moving less air, would be able to move the air through to the rest of the computer case.

This is especially important for computer cases which focus more on eye-catching aesthetics than raw airflow performance. With solid, non-perforated front and side panels, you’ll need static pressure fans to force even a modest amount of air through narrow, constrained vents.

What size case fan should I get?

Concerning the size of case fans, there’s not too much to worry about. While Ebuyer stocks fans in a broad range of sizes, not all are applicable to a standard, off-the-shelf computer case. Confusingly, the size of the fan isn’t measured by the fans itself, but the edge-to-edge diameter of the whole unit.

Most of the smaller sizes – like 60mm are 80mm – are replacement units for older-style desktops PCs or rack-mounted servers. For a gaming-grade rig, the most readily available fan sizes are 120mm and 140mm. These strike a middle ground of acoustics and performance.

Neutron Lab Cobalt Computer Case – with 200mm fans

Are smaller case fans noisier?

To match the same CFM as a larger fan, a smaller fan must spin at a higher revolutions-per-minute (RPM). Not only does this result in more noise – measured in decibels (dBA) – but more energy consumption, making them poorly inefficient.

You’ve likely experience this with a laptop’s tiny fan spinning at a high RPM, desperately struggling to displace air while producing an annoying, whiney tone. Conversely, a larger fan can spin at a lower RPM while effortlessly moving the same amount of air with a quieter and more ear-pleasing humming tone.

If acoustics play an important role in your build, 180mm and 200mm fans may be of interest. Though, computer cases which support these gargantuan diameters are few and far between and their spread-out size means they lack the static pressure of a denser, focused fan. With a RPM curve fine-tuned in the BIOS, two 120mm fans can match the same effectiveness as one 200mm fan.

No matter the size, when your fan’s spinning, there’s another consideration to be weary of – vibrations. Fans with rubberised frames and even rubberised screws can help minimize the irritating buzzing against a metal computer case.

What’s the best fan layout for PC cooling?

Most computer cases ship with at least one pre-installed case fan, usually placed near the rear exhaust. This somewhat helps move hot air lingering around the CPU cooler to outside the computer case. In a middling office PC, this may be enough to keep a power-sipping processor with integrated graphics churning along happily.

However, in a gaming-grade rig with a dedicated graphics card, an adequate arrangement of case fans is essential. Otherwise, you’re starving your components of the freshest air, inevitably leading to thermal throttling and worse performance as they suffocate under their own hot air. There’s no one optimal configuration for case fans, as every computer case lay-out differs from one another.

Nor can you simply chuck more and more case fans at the problem, as you’ll quickly hit diminishing returns. Cramming in case fan wherever possible has a unintended, reverse effect on your PC cooling. They’ll all be working against each other, blowing in any which way with no directional flow. An all-too-common occurrence for novice PC builder is placing an exhaust fan straight above an intake just because there’s an available space, completely negating its purpose.

A rear-mounted exhaust is standard on most computer cases

Neutral air pressure?

Case fans can be orientated as either an intake (pulling in air) or exhaust (pushing air out) to achieve positive or negative air pressure inside the computer case respectively.

Even if we perfectly balanced the CFM of each case fan – already a herculean task by itself – it’d be nigh impossible to achieve neutral air pressure.

You’ve got to account for even the tiniest nooks and crannies air can escape from. By design, computer cases are covered in perforations and gaps from removeable panels, PCIe slot covers, mounting holes, exhausts vents and more.

We should strive to achieve neutral air pressure, but the unfortunate truth is the balance will slightly tip in either positive or neutral air pressure’s favour. Let’s examine which is best, depending on your use computer case.

Positive Air Pressure

The primary advantage of a positive air pressure – more intake than exhaust – is less dust accumulation. The increase turbulence of air jostles the dust particles about, preventing them from landing. Yes, a greater intake attracts more dust… but precautionary measures like a dust filter on the intake can off-set this. You may be intaking a lot of air, but where does it go? With too much positive pressure, you run the risk of dumping boatloads of air into your system and not even capitalising on it.

Air flow – passing from the intake to the exhaust – is what matters. Otherwise, you’re just trapping the air to grow stale and hot. However, encountering an air flow set-up with overwhelmingly positive pressure is highly unlikely. If a computer case is going to ship with only one pre-installed fan – as with many budget-orientated cases – it will be installed as an exhaust, encouraging air flow through the computer case.

Negative Air Pressure

Negative air pressure – more exhaust than intake – excels at ejecting hot air. However, air isn’t created at the fans themselves. It’s everywhere, and with negative air pressure, it must draw air in from somewhere to exhaust it out. Your PC becomes a magnet, attracting contaminants towards any available entrance. Dust, loose hair and pet fur – everyone’s invited! If you aren’t into regular maintenance and clean-up of your PC – especially if you’ve got pets – then opting for a negative air pressure is not recommended.

Provided by: Syafiq Adnan / Shutterstock.com

Push-Pull Configuration

Neither option is the ‘best’, each with their pros and cons. We’d recommend leaning slightly into positive air pressure for most use cases. In a perfectly controlled environment where all specs of dust are obliterated, negative air pressure would have a performance advantage. In a real-world scenario, however, the increased accumulation of dust will likely negative any advantage for most set-ups. You can spend time theorising the two, but what’s more important is a balance – not too much positive nor negative air pressure.

Many PC builders employ a push-pull configuration, where air is ‘pushed’ into the computer case by intake fans and subsequently ‘pulled’ out by exhaust fans, creating a consistent and steady air flow. Here’s a common configuration for PC cooling to highlight key considerations.

First – how’re you supposed to tell a fan’s orientation just by looking at it? While a small indicator imprinted on the plastic housing will point in the direction of the air flow, there’s an even easier trick. The motor hub braced with plastic is the exhaust and the opposite ‘exposed’ side is the intake. Or, you could just stick a piece of paper in front of the fan and see which way it blows!

Starting off with the three front-mounted intake case fans, these push a large amount of air into the computer case, evenly spread out from top to bottom. Notice how the fans are directly in line with both the CPU and GPU for a healthy abundance of the freshest air pushed straight onto them. The exhausts fans – positioned behind the components – pull hot air from them to outside the computer case.

Is there such a thing as too many fans?

An arguably questionable decision is the exhaust fan mounted at the top panel, furthest to the right. If you visualise the air flow through the computer case – air taken in from the right, channelled over the hot components and exhausted out at the top-left – what purpose does this rogue fan serve?

It’s situated only slightly behind an intake fan while also in front of the CPU cooler. Meaning, it’ll pull out a large portion of the cool air before it even reaches the CPU cooler. For an all-in-one water cooler this placement may make sense to accommodate a larger radiator, but for an air cooler, it has a bigger negative impact than a positive one. That’s two fans – which require energy and produce their own heat – cancelling each other out.

It’s a classic case of why more fans doesn’t necessarily equate more cooling. As such, there’s isn’t a concrete recommendation for number of fans in a system. It’s heavily dependant on the power of your system’s components and the layout of your computer case. A low power draw CPU with no discrete GPU in a roomy tower case won’t need as many fans a gaming-grade components drawing hundreds of watts each crammed in a small form factor case.

Ambient Temperature

Ignoring components, there’s a few external steps you can take to not undermine your PC’s cooling potential. With conventional cooling, you can’t go below the ambient temperature of the surrounding environment. For instance – if your room’s 21°C, that’ll be the lowest recorded temperature of your components too.

Booting up your PC on a sweltering hot day your components must fight against the room’s increased ambient temperature, as well as performance-intensive applications. And how’re the fans supposed to cool down the components when the air is already hot? It’s why gamers with non-air-conditioned rooms dread Summer.

Heat can’t be magically erased, only dissipated from inside the computer case to outside. Let’s take a quick glance at the extreme measures die-hard enthusiasts go to achieve sub-ambient temperatures.

They’ll lather up their boards in an insulating jelly, strap heavy-duty pots to the CPU socket and top ‘em up with blisteringly cold liquid nitrogen. This forces an environment so cold, water droplet starting forming on the board due to condensations. Of course, this is all purely for demonstrational purposes and never intended for daily driving, but shows how challenging ambient temperatures are to beat.

Your room’s ambient temperature is an unavoidable hurdle for gamers, particularly those living in warmer and tropical environments. Though, if you’re fortunate enough to have air-con, you can mitigate it somewhat.

Dust

So far, we’ve reference dust like it’s our arch nemesis, but what’s so bad about it? Dust isn’t inherently damaging to components. Even the thickest layer of caked-on dust won’t cause a short circuit. However, it does affect temperatures and as we’ve established can subsequently impact performance if the dust bunnies get big enough.

Over time, the gradual accumulation of dust can clog up your case fan’s blade, shrinking their surface area and reducing the amount of air they can displace. Meaning, the fan must spin faster – and louder – to achieve the same results as a dust-free fan. Enough of a dust build-up can place unnecessary strain on the fan’s motor as it works overtime and may burn out prematurely.

The same issue applies to the fans strapped to components inside your computer case – CPU cooler, graphics card, power supply unit – with even worse consequences. When a blanket of dust settles on your components it acts as an insulating layer trapping in heat. It’ll land wherever it sees fit, even in-between the smallest gaps of a heartsink’s fins, further reducing cooling potential.

Dust Filters

Dust is everywhere – there’s no avoiding it – but we can take preventative measures to minimise it inside out systems. Dust filters are an obvious choice and are built into many gaming-focused computer cases nowadays, as manufacturers are acutely aware of how intrusive and unrelenting dust is.

Some computer cases guard all entrances with filters, but the one that’s most susceptible to dust – with a positive air pressure – is the intake. As long as there’s at least one filter in front of your intake, dust shouldn’t be too much of a nuisance.

If your computer case didn’t ship with any filters, there’s always aftermarket options which either screw or magnetise to your fans making them a no-brainer suggestion for any PC build. Or, you can jerry-rig a filter from any permeable, mesh-like material.

Filters do a highly commendable job at blocking the majority of dust from entering your system in the first place and you can run them over with a vacuum cleaner every few weeks for quick n’ easy maintenance. Though, you don’t want to get too close with the vacuum’s nozzle, as this’ll spool up your fans and may place excessive strain on their bearings.

Compressed Air

When it comes to your cleaning your system’s sensitive internals, a vacuum is a no-go as it carries a lot of static electricity. We’re sure if you take the right precautions – shut down your system and keep it grounded via a plugged in but powered off power supply – a quick once-over may be fine, but why risk it?

You could pick up a dedicated anti-static vacuum, but a plain old can of compressed is a much more affordable and practical solution to keep in every PC user’s back pocket.

With a long, pointy nozzle, they’re easily manoeuvrable in and around even the trickiest crevices, like navigating past your graphics card’s fan and plunging deeper into the heatsink itself. One short burst is enough to blast out any build up of dust. And give in-between your gaming keyboard’s keycaps an overdue clean while you’re at it!

Ebuyer Air Duster

Should I have my PC on top or underneath my desk?

Our last PC cooling tip is to keep your PC off the floor. You might’ve seen impressive images of other gamer’s battle-stations online and wondered why so many place their PCs on their desks. Surely, you’d want as much spare room as possible for desk-sized mouse pads and low-sens gaming mouse flicks? While they may elevate it to eye-level to peer through their computer case’s tempered glass side panel to ogle at RGB lighting, it has the added benefit of improved cooling.

Underneath your desk, your PC is likely trapped in an enclosed environment, restricting air circulation. Whereas above your desk, all of the computer case’s ventilation have more room to breathe, ensuring warm air isn’t recycled back into the system.

Dust and other contaminants slowly wafting in the air will settle down, making it easier for PCs placed on the ground to suck up. This is particularly relevant for those with carpeted flooring, as it’ll on tight to these contaminants. Walking back and forth from your set-up will brush up big plumes of dust right in front of your PC. The thickness of carpet can also obstruct your computer case’s bottoms vents, further restricting air flow. Although you might’ve not mounted any fans here, air is naturally drawn-in via convection.

If desk space is limited and the floor’s the only option, the above is alleviated a bit by using a PC stand – whether that’s another DIY job, or a dedicated unit with caster wheels for convenient clean-up.

PC Cooling at Ebuyer

From CPU coolers, to thermal paste and case fans – why not check them all out, over at Ebuyer. Need something to play that won’t put too much strain on your system while you wait for cooling parts to arrive? Make sure to check out our blog on games you can play on any device.