Keep it clean
It’s especially desktops that tend to moulder under desks, their innards becoming clogged with dust, dirt and errant hairballs.
Before trying anything else, we’d suggest you open up your PC (or laptop, if possible) and have a go at removing potentially several years’ worth of debris.
Dust clogs the fans, and can also get between components, reducing conductivity and causing further problems.
A few sprays of canned air can help the cleaning process no end.
Remove the case
It might sound obvious, but computers like shedding clothes just as much as we do during hot days. As long as your PC’s not sitting close to dirty air vents, or open windows pouring in dust from building sites, removing the cover panels and letting the cool air rush in should assist your overburdened fan, and decrease the running temperature of your machine.
Additionally, many contemporary ‘quiet’ cases contain a foam layer to keep fan noise down, but may also trap even more heat inside the case.
Obviously, such a simple solution won’t work so well for laptops or tablets.
Also, be aware of the risks of exposed live components if you do decide to run your PC without its cover. Probably not a good idea if you’re working from home and have young children running around.
Give it some space
The fact your work machine is usually surrounded by box files and stale teacups may not usually be a problem, but it’ll be gasping for all the airflow it can get at the moment. Clearing the spaces around anywhere you see an air vent could help considerably. Bear in mind air vents can also be on the top of the machine, so it’s time to clear away those books, speakers and fast food toys.
Keep an eye on the numbers
There’s an abundance of applications out there to help you work out whether your computer – though it may feel distinctly warmer than usual – is actually in any kind of critical danger from the heat. Your IT department can probably sort you out with a company standard, but if in doubt, a decent freeware app is CoreTemp – just make sure you deny its install program from installing a variety of other unneeded applications on the way through.
If your processors are still operating a few degrees below their max recommended temperature, you probably have little to worry about.
If your problems are greater, SpeedFan can also help you manually control your CPU fan speeds without having to burrow around in the BIOS.
It sounds blatantly obvious, but if you decide to take your laptop to the park, make sure to keep it in the shade. The sun will move across the sky as the hours pass, and even exposing a small part of your machine to its powerful rays can significantly increase its operating temperature. In the same vein, beware of leaving a machine alone near a window while you nip out for lunch, returning an hour later to find it drenched in heat and potentially suffering.
Get a cooling stand
This is a laptop-only solution, but simple plastic stands with an integrated fan can be bought for as little as £10. A no-brainer as an individual purchase, it’s also a cheap and cheerful option to roll a few out across a business to keep costs of cooked laptops down.
Don’t use a desk fan
There’s a common myth surviving to this day that adding more fans or heatsinks to a computer can be ignored in favour off popping the covers off and aiming your desk fan at it. Taking the average dusty state of a bedraggled desk fan into account, you’d often be firing more harmful dust into the machine than cooling air. Our advice is not to risk it.
Add internal fans
As opposed to the desk fan ‘solution’, it’s a fairly painless process simply to pop a few more fans on the inside of the case, or even on special braces over the top of troublesome components (such as your graphics card). You can pick up internal fans that just clip onto the case for around £20. Obviously, this could make your computer louder, but you can always pop them off again at the end of the summer.
Cut down overclocking
Even if you weren’t aware of it, a well-meaning IT bod could have set your machine’s processors running faster than their recommended speed at some point in the machine’s history. This can cause exponential heat-up problems in your processors.
You can check and control your processor speeds with a number of benchmarking and diagnostic applications, but for a quick and dirty fix, we recommend CPU-Z.
Be mindful of lunchtime pleasures
Your systems graphics processing unit [GPU] can overheat massively, especially if it’s an underpowered on-board chip in a laptop or tablet. If you’re used to a quick game of Left 4 Dead with your midday sandwich, you might want to think again until the weather’s less aggressive.
Spreadsheets can be fun too, you know.
It’s the Rolls-Royce option for PC cooling, but once you’ve shelled out on cases and tubes, but you can’t argue with science. With cold water flowing through the system, you’ll have little left to worry about as you go about your work. It’ll cost you, mind.
We don’t recommend it, but you technically can run your PC submerged in oil – standard vegetable oil from the supermarket would work perfectly well. Oil doesn’t conduct electricity, so it will work, and the oil will absorb most of the heat keeping it nice and cool.
But reaching into an increasingly rancid bucket of lipids every day to power your machine on an off may quickly become more irksome than simply running a hot system. Your choice, but we thought it was worth mentioning as the left-field option.