Overheating your computer components is something you should avoid. In general, electronic devices don’t do well when they get too hot. Furthermore, if they reach too high temperatures, they can completely fail.
This is especially true for your computer’s CPU. If you own a computer or laptop, you must ensure that your CPU is operating within a normal temperature range. When CPUs are asked to perform more tasks, they will become hotter. Even when the load on your CPU is high, you can ensure that your CPU will not get too hot with proper cooling measures so that you won’t run into any problems.
In reality, there are only two fundamental ways to lower the temperature of your processor: better cooling or a CPU that runs at a lower temperature. However, there are a variety of ways to improve cooling. In this guide, we will discuss nine different ways to lower your processor’s temperature. Therefore, if you’re wondering how to lower your CPU temperatures, keep reading.
1. Clean Out Your Computer
If your CPU temps are too high on an older computer, or if your computer is in a dusty location, the first thing you should do is open up your computer and clean it.
When dust builds up in your case, it can reduce the performance of your fans and reduce airflow, preventing your CPU from getting the proper cooling it requires. Keeping your computer in good working order requires you to clean out the dust regularly. Even more so if you own a laptop, as they are smaller and have restricted airflow as is-so any extra restrictions caused by dust build-up can have a drastic impact on your CPU’s temperature.
The easiest and most common way to clean out your computer is to use compressed air to blow out the dust. *$20 gets you a 3-pack of compressed air that should last you quite a while.
I have an air compressor that I use for DIY projects and to fill up my car’s tires. I also use the air compressor (with a blow gun attachment) to clean out my computer. Since the air compressor can deliver a lot more pressure, this works well. As long as I hold the hose further back, I won’t damage any of the components inside of my system.
To blow out dust in your computer, it’s a good idea to blow on the fans inside as much as possible, as well as around any vents or openings where air can enter or leave.
2. Reapply Thermal Paste
The next step is to reapply thermal paste after cleaning out your computer. If your computer is older, or you haven’t reapplied the thermal paste between your CPU and your CPU’s fan/heat sink, you could be experiencing higher temperatures due to the degradation of the thermal paste.
If this is the case, you’ll need to remove your CPU cooler and clean both the contact point on the cooler as well as the back of the CPU. I usually use a razor blade to scrape off as much thermal paste as possible and then use a lint-free cloth to remove what is left. If you want a more thorough cleaning, you can wet the cloth with 90% isopropyl alcohol, but a dry lint-free cloth will do just fine.
Once you’ve cleaned them off, reapply a pea-sized drop of thermal paste. Check out our guide on the best thermal paste if you need some new thermal paste.
3. If You Have Bad Cable Management, Fix It
After you’ve cleaned out your case and reapplied thermal paste, you should check your cable management. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If it’s really bad and you have cables hanging over your main components, or a lot of unused cables blocking airflow, that could be contributing to your higher CPU temperatures.
If that’s the case, you might want to reroute your cables in a way that allows more airflow inside your case. Take a look at our post on 23 Examples of Good Cable Management for inspiration.
4. Upgrade Your CPU Cooler
After you’ve cleaned out your computer, reapplied thermal paste to your CPU/CPU cooler, and you’ve made sure your case has decent cable management, if you’re still experiencing CPU temperatures that are too high, you might want to consider upgrading your CPU cooler.
You might have bigger problems if you already own a mid-range or better CPU cooler. A decent air cooler or even an AIO liquid cooler could help you bring your processor’s temperature within a normal range if you’re using a stock cooling system.
5. Add More Case Fans to Your System (or Reconfigure Them)
Even if you have a solid CPU cooler already, or have recently upgraded to one, and are still getting higher-than-normal CPU temps, it could be that your case is not providing enough airflow into your system. If that’s the case, then you should see if you can add some additional fans to your existing case to increase airflow inside of your system.
If you already have plenty of fans in your case, you might want to reconfigure them. If all of your fans are pulling air into your system and none of them are set to exhaust, the positive pressure in the case may prevent enough heat from leaving the case, resulting in your CPU running at unusually high temperatures.
Alternatively, if all of your fans are set to exhaust air out of your case, then the negative pressure in your case could cause your CPU to run hotter than usual. Therefore, if your fans aren’t configured properly (so that you have just as much air coming in as you do going out), then you should also experiment with them to see if it helps reduce CPU temperatures.
6. Upgrade Your PC Case
If none of the above works, or if you’re just trying to lower the CPU temperature as much as possible, you might want to get a new computer case with better airflow.
To find a case with better airflow, you should look for one that is bigger (more space means your components won’t be as close together) and has a ventilated front and top panel with plenty of options to install more fans.
7. Speed Up Your Existing Fans
To force your fans to run at higher speeds, you might be able to increase the airflow in your system to keep your processor cooler using a program like SpeedFan. When they spin faster, more air is moved into (and out of) your case, which keeps your system and CPU cooler.
8. For Laptop Users, Get A Laptop Cooler
Back in the day, when I first started playing World of Warcraft, I had a really crappy laptop. It could barely run the game on the lowest settings. At least I would be able to play the game on lower settings if I got *20 FPS. However, after playing the game for 20-30 minutes, the laptop (and processor) would get so hot that the framerate would drop below 10 FPS and I could no longer play.
I connected the laptop to my TV using an HDMI cable, placed the laptop on top of a large window fan, and used an extra keyboard to play the game without a frame rate drop to under 10 frames per second.
These days, there are powerful laptop coolers that can keep your system and CPU cool. You might want to try a laptop cooler if your CPU is running too hot on your laptop. Another option is to use a large window fan.
9. Lower the Temperature in the Location Your PC is Operating
Finally, if all else fails and your CPU isn’t faulty, maybe you are simply trying to run it in too hot of an environment? The hotter it is where you use your computer, the higher the temperature your CPU will reach. You would hit much higher CPU temperatures running Prime95 in an 80-degree Fahrenheit room than if you were running Prime95 on a system operating in a 65-degree Fahrenheit room.
If you’re having problems with your CPU’s temperature, definitely think about the room temperature in which you’re running your computer because that could be pushing it to the limit.
Need to Lower Your CPU Temps? Try the Nine Steps Above
One of the nine solutions above (or a combination of them) may help you lower your CPU temperatures. If none of these work, you might have a faulty component, and an upgrade is in order. Check out our CPU Buyer’s Guide if you’re in the market for a new processor.