How Hot Christchurch Summers Are Melting Our Computers

( In these hot summer days, computers are at a greater risk. Specifically, users may find that their CPU is overheating as the fan that keeps it cool struggles to keep pace with the increased temperature.

Laptops and desktop computers both use a piece of conductive metal called a “heatsink” that draws heat away from the CPU. A fan is attached to the heatsink to cool it more quickly. This is a vital part of any laptop or desktop computer. The CPU in a computer generates a LOT of heat quite quickly, especially when being actively used. If someone were to take your heatsink off the CPU and turn on the computer it would probably last about 10 seconds before overheating.

Tablets don’t have fans – mostly as part of the design process to keep them small and thin. If designers put a computer fan in a tablet it would have to be about 3 or 4 cms thick. No one wants to use a tablet that fat! Tablets get away without the fan, because they have much lower power CPUs that therefore generate much less heat. The more apps you have open the more CPU being used, the more heat generated.

With the hot days we’ve been experiencing in our beautiful Garden City, Christchurch, the CPU is working harder. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but there are some situations where it could be.

These are…
• Leaving or placing a computer in a hot room. Or even leaving a tablet or laptop directly in the sun!
• Dust accumulating. This is VERY common, the CPU fan is basically a dust sucker, drawing dust into the heatsink all day long. Even the cleanest rooms have a bit of dust and the fan does a great job of grabbing it.
• Having too many apps open. As mentioned, this increases the CPU use and thus the heat.

How do computer users know if it’s too hot? The best test is simply to feel it. Put a hand on various parts of the laptop etc, but especially around the vents and if it feels any warmer than “very warm” then it might be in trouble. If so, or it’s really hot, the recommended process is to turn it off ASAP.

Computer owners can clean out the dust by using some compressed air (local electronics store sell it) or by using a vacuum. Be careful how this is done as it can cause damage. Sometimes there is dust in the computer that cannot be removed without disassembling it. For that a computer technician would be required. Also, after the computer has been running hot for a few months the special thermally conductive paste they put between the heatsink and the CPU tends to dry out. Dry paste is not very conductive. All quite fixable, but you would need a computer technician to fix that problem.

Media Release on 18 February 2019

Media Contact
Matthew Gilling, Computer Help NZ
Phone: 0800349669