If your computer is overheating then one thing is certain: something has gone wrong. The majority of the time an overheated PC is due to an overheated processor (CPU), but sometimes an overheated graphics card (GPU) can also be the culprit. In either case, the process remains relatively the same.
Your PC won't necessarily shut off at high temperatures, but all modern GPUs and CPUs will begin throttling their own speed in an attempt to cool down. However, if your PC is completely shutting down during these events then the issue needs to be addressed immediately, as even a few minutes at critical temperatures is enough to damage your hardware. The process for cooling down an overheating PC is as follows:
- Shut down your PC and ensure that it is free from any dust or debris
- Verify that all fans are working
- Check your case to make sure there's decent airflow and no bundles of cables are blocking any fans
- Re-apply CPU thermal compound
- Ensure that your CPU cooling solution is making good contact with the CPU
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Once you've verified everything is in place, then it's time to test. If the thermal events continue to occur then you'll want to look into a better cooling solution for your hardware. Anything from a larger radiator, more case fans, or even just a larger case with better airflow can make a massive difference in your PC's cooling capability. If the PC in question is a laptop then you'll want to have it serviced for cleaning and re-application of thermal compound unless you're confident in disassembling it. It's worth noting that for laptops some thermal throttling is normal, but if your machine is shutting off due to overheating then something needs to be serviced.
If your PC is getting too hot then at best you'll suffer speed issues due to throttling, but prolonged overheating can significantly shorten the length of your hardware's usable life. If you suspect your PC is overheating then monitor your active temperatures to see how close to your manufacturer's recommended temperature ranges you're getting.
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How to Cool Down an Overheated PC