Why is My Computer Overheating? Reasons & Fixes

by Arslan Ashraf

Why is My Computer Overheating? Reasons & Fixes

As we all know, a computer is an electronic device that stores and processes data according to instructions given by a variable program. We also know that computers are made of electronic circuits so may produce heat while operating. This is the reason why sometimes overworked computers slow down and even shut down. No doubt, heat is the enemy of computers; therefore, computers are designed with cooling and ventilation in mind, so they don’t overheat. If too much heat builds up, your computer can become unstable or even damage any suffering component.

Moreover, an overheated computer is a serious problem that, in some cases, can cause irreparable damage to internal components, including the hard drive, and complete data loss. For your information, there could be several other reasons other than the heavy loads that lead to heat production and temperature increase. Well in this guide, we’ll explain why is my computer overheating and several practical solutions to stop it from overheating. I suggest you read this post until the end to know better the core issues, possible solutions, and how to apply those solutions.

Why is My Computer Overheating? Possible Reasons

Heat is an inevitable by-product of all motors, and computers are no exception. PCs tend to run hotter with age, but even brand-new computers can get hot when running memory-intensive tasks that overwhelm the processor. Overheating occurs when the cooling system inside the computer cannot effectively ventilate the hot air produced by the electrical components involved in computer processing. This shouldn’t be a problem if the computer’s thermal management system (fans, heatsinks, and vents) can effectively regulate the temperature.

Excessive warmth can damage the same components that produce it. This is why most computers use metal heat sinks, fans, and vents to keep the temperature as low as possible. However, if something is blocking ventilation, a fan is broken, or cooling isn’t working properly, your machine will start showing signs of overheating. The computer is overheating due to insufficient internal airflow, the external temperature is too high, one or more components are not being cooled effectively, or some components are overworked.

In addition, there could be several reasons why a computer is overheating. So, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why a computer is overheating!

  • Multiple open browser tabs: Each open browser tab consumes resources that can lead to overheating. So, if several browser tabs are opened simultaneously, it’s obvious that the PC will do an extra bit of operation and will produce unnecessary heat.
  • Unresponsive programs: When apps and tasks crash or freeze, your PC struggles to resolve errors, consuming a lot of energy and memory. In such a case, the CPU is operating at its total capacity, so it may produce heat, and its temperature will increase.
  • Demanding applications: The most common reason for overheating is running high-intensity programs or games on a PC which is not capable enough. Such types of software tend to use the full CPU or GPU capacity, that’s causing components to overheat.
  • Outdated software: Buggy, outdated software can have a considerable energy impact, and older operating systems may not be optimized for gaming and other high-intensity tasks. In such cases, you either need to uninstall them or find another solution.
  • Viruses or other malware: If your computer seems to be overheating for no apparent reason, there may be a computer virus that takes up a lot of background processes. Get rid of any infection with powerful antivirus software since it’s putting unnecessary load.
  • Overclocking: Overclocking could be another reason why your PC is getting hot. Suppose a computer’s cooling system is designed for its primary performance, but you’re overclocking it to the extreme. In that case, it may not be sufficient for overclocking hardware so it may get overheated.
  • Blocked vents: If the vents are blocked, the hot air cannot escape, heat will build up, and the temperature inside the machine will soar. This is the most common issue when someone is using their laptop while keeping it on its lap or the sofa rather than a table.
  • Fan failure: What if a few fans on your PC face issues, like spinning slower or being broken at some point? In such a case, there won’t be enough airflow due to lesser speeds, so that a lesser heat dissipation will lead to an abrupt temperature increase.
  • Expired thermal paste: Another reason that can cause an increase in CPU heat and, ultimately, the overall PC’s temperature is the expired thermal paste. We use the thermal paste to enhance the heat transfer between the CPU and heat to ensure proper heat dissipation and thermal management. 
  • Direct sunlight: Using your computer in direct sunlight or any high-temperature environment may cause your computer to overheat. Your cooling system, designed to handle the heat generated by internal components and external environmental factors, can overwhelm it.

How do I stop my PC from overheating?

When your PC overheats, act quickly to prevent data loss or permanent hardware damage. An overworked fan will promptly drain your laptop battery. Maintaining a stable core temperature is critical to the long-term performance of batteries and other internal components. There can be many factors that can cause your computer to overheat, so try the following steps to cool your computer and avoid further shutdowns or performance issues:

1. Close unnecessary browser tabs and programs

Multitasking with multiple applications can open, causing your CPU to hiss. Minimizing active processes and closing unused programs will help keep the temperature in check. Uninstall unnecessary apps and remove potentially unwanted programs to free up disk space and prevent background processes from overheating the system. Likewise, having a lot of tabs open on your web browser can be a significant drain on your PC’s resources. Close any tabs that are not active and bookmark the ones you might need again.

2. Avoid Using Heavy Programs

The harder you push your computer’s CPU, the more heat it produces. So when it’s overloaded for a long time, the temperature will soar, and you might be able to handle the increased load by creating virtual memory on the hard drive, reaching 100% disk usage. To reduce stress on the CPU, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager and look at the applications listed in the CPU column. If any CPU usage is much higher, close them by right-clicking them. This reduces overclocking of the CPU, which is a great way to improve performance.

3. Adjust the PC’s Internal Settings and Check for Viruses

If your computer seems to be overtaxed with everyday use, try recalibrating your PC settings to lighten resource load and reduce overheating. Using battery-saver mode is a good place to start, but you can also fine-tune other settings like screen brightness and resolution to find the right balance. Viruses and other types of malware can run high-impact processes without your knowledge, which can cause your PC to heat up quickly. Identify and remove malware from your PC with malware detection and removal tools.

4. Clean and dust your computer

Over time, dirt and dust can accumulate in your computer’s ventilation ducts, clogging vital components, reducing airflow, and causing overheating. If you haven’t dusted it recently, physically cleaning your PC will help it run cool and quiet again. To clean the internals of your desktop computer, make sure you have a cotton swab and a can of compressed air handy, then follow these steps:

  • Completely shut down the PC and unplug all power cords and cables.
  • Place the computer in a clean, flat, well-lit work area.
  • Carefully remove its casing.
  • Use a can of compressed air to remove dust and debris from fans, ducts, and other components of your computer.
  • If blockages remain in tight spaces, use a cotton swab to clean them gently.

Note: If you want to know more about cleaning your PC and other connected elements, read these posts on cleaning CPU fans and cleaning gaming monitors for more information.  

Remember that junk files and bloatware can also drag down your system and cause overheating. Digitally spring clean your machine with trusted cleaning software that automatically removes unwanted temporary files and optimizes your PC for smooth and fast performance.

5. Improve the Airflow

For Desktop PCs

Even if the fan is working correctly, your computer will still overheat without a steady supply of circulating fresh air. To help keep the vents unobstructed, place your PC on a flat, hard surface with no obstructions. Don’t try to improve ventilation by removing side panels or other parts of the computer case, as this changes the internal pressure and makes it harder for the fan to maintain adequate airflow. It also allows dust, lint, and other junk to build up inside your machine, which only worsens things.

For Laptops

Since the vents are usually at the bottom of the laptops, placing the laptop directly on a blanket or sofa can block airflow. Place your laptop on a flat, hard surface, such as a desk or even a book. Some laptop sleeves can also block the vents, so if you’re using one, try removing it. Another tip for keeping your laptop cool is to avoid using it in hot environments or placing it in direct sunlight. If you don’t have access to a shady or air-conditioned room, use a laptop cooling pad that blows cool air up to keep the machine well-ventilated.

6. Ensure that the Fans are Working

Internal PC components generate a lot of heat, primarily when you use your machine for long periods. This is fine if the fans inside the machine are working correctly to control the temperature. However, if your computer’s fan is always loud, here are a few easy ways to check if your fan is working properly:

  • Step 1: When you turn on your PC, you should hear the fan whizzing past.
  • Step 2: Put your hand near the computer’s fan grill and feel the vibration.
  • Step 3: Confirm that the fan is running by looking for movement through the fan grille with a flashlight.

If your fans are humming incessantly, replace or upgrade your hardware with a heatsink to absorb the excess heat, or even use an external PC cooler to help regulate the temperature.

7. Reapply thermal paste

Thermal paste is a highly conductive material commonly used to coat components such as CPUs and GPUs to dissipate heat more efficiently. If you applied it years ago, chances are that thermal paste can’t last anymore, and you have to re-apply it. All you have to do is to clean the expired thermal paste and apply brand-new. Suppose you don’t know about replacing the older paste with a new one. In such a case, read this post on how to apply thermal paste. After that, your computer will perform better due to the reduction in CPU temperature

Conclusion

You must have experienced excessive heat production inside your computer if you’re a PC user. Moreover, those who play games or do content creation can never forget the sudden performance lag due to improper heat management. I suggest you never neglect the heat that is being produced by your computer since the more your computer heats, the more permanent damage it can cause to its components. If your computer doesn’t seem to be performing well, the fans are running at full speed even when your PC is idle, which could cause your CPU to overheat.

If you’ve cleaned the case and components and replaced the thermal paste and still find your system is running too hot, consider replacing the fan or adjusting its position within the case to optimize airflow. Moreover, make sure to check the surroundings where you’re using your PC or laptop. If you have a laptop, make sure to use it on the table rather than on a lap or the sofa since the vents may be blocked or cause a temperature increase. In contrast, PC enthusiasts must have an adequate thermal management system, together with a sufficient number of fans and enough airflow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my PC overheating now?

Several reasons can cause your computer to overheat. The most common ones include direct sunlight, some external temperature, extreme usage, improper airflow, blocked vents, fans not working properly, or expired thermal paste. You must read this post to quickly fix your PC overheating issue.

How to stop your computer from overheating?

Since there could be several reasons behind computer overheating, there is more than one suggested solution for it. First, assess your usage and ensure that you aren’t putting too much load on your PC. Close spare tabs, programs, and background applications. After that, ensure proper airflow, no dust blocking the air vents, and fans working fine.

Why is my laptop overheating for no reason?

If you’re not putting excessive load on your laptop and it’s still overheating, you may do something wrong while using it. Ensure that you’re not blocking the air vents mainly on the bottom of the laptops, no dust is collected in the vents/holes, and the internal cooling solution is working.

Arslan Ashraf

Arslan Ashraf is a tech enthusiast and an experienced technical writer at GamingDairy. He has been writing all types of guides, tutorials, and tips for gamers, developers, and other people who use computers. His way of writing is quite unique: he starts with testing every single piece of Hardware and does a long list of experiments before writing the actual masterpiece. Well, if you have any queries, ensure to connect with him!