Tips for cooling your PC and notebook - Tucson News Now

Tips for cooling your PC and notebook

By: Andy Taylor, KOLD News 13 Live This Morning's Tech Expert


One of the big killers for Computer PC and Notebook performance is heat. Your computer systems come with fans and cooling systems designed to keep your Computer Processors running at their top performance but with today's systems many factors increase the heat in the system case with larger faster spinning hard drives, graphics cards with faster processors and even memory running at higher speeds. Manufacturers such as Intel have been developing faster processors that use a smaller footprint and thus require less power which means a cooler system, however with some everyday mistakes we users make; it can be good to take note of a few basic steps to keep your systems running at their best while extending the life cycle.

  • 1) Keep the Ventilation around your Computer Open : I have seen some awesome computer desk over the years that provide a nice workspace, cord management and areas for a raised monitor and place for printers, scanner etc however some of these desk have also included space to hide the computer system down below in a cabinet. Your Computer needs to have regular airflow in and out of the system and what happens in some of these cabinets, the computers generate heat and without an area to the back of the system, they continue to circulate the hot air generated from the internals of the computer throughout the case. Always make sure the desk has ample space to the rear of the cabinet for the air to move out the back. If you nice looking desk has a door, don't close it. This is like putting your system in a sauna! Over time, you'll hear that fan working harder to keep the system cool which drives up your energy cost and of course can wear your system out. Especially with our HOT summers here in Tucson, your systems need the best cooling possible.
  • 2) Don't Place your Computer on the carpet: As mentioned before, the Computer Tower needs airflow and that can come from Under the computer case as well. Some of the higher end systems we've been putting together feature fans to direct air up while other fans blow the air out, block the bottom fan or side fans and you again have cooling issues. Another reason for this cautionary bit of advice is that carpets are also havens for dust and dog or cat hair. While you may have the cleanest house in Tucson, dust can get sucked in the intake fans on your system much easier at lower elevation. If you must place it on the floor, I would recommend a board or shelf that can support the feet on the Computer Tower keep it off the flat surface.
  • 3) Smoking can Kill your Computer: For those that Smoke, having the freedom to do it at home in front of your PC, Laptop or Mac may be something you cannot do at the office however now you don't have to worry about offing your co-workers with Second hand smoke but now you will have to think about taking the life of your computer. Smoke from just about any product leave a residue of gunk that looks awful when combines with dust particles that can sit in a PC. In fact, this matter turns into a sludge which mixes with the oils on fans and can seize them up. I recently pulled a $250 graphics card out of a system that had a cooling fan covered in the gunk that had seized up and burned out the graphics processor. This is not a statement on smoking however if you look at the old gray IDE cables for hard drives in a smokers case, they are usually a dull brown, this is an indication of the damage it does to cooling fans, processors, hard drives and CD or DVD drives which require a laser to precisely read data.
  • 4) Keep all your Computer Openings Closed: I have seen computer systems with some nasty critters inside. Why not, they like the warmth of the computer and will love to set up shop inside and nibble at your electronics. Roaches, Spiders and Scorpions have been known to set up home in systems. Another reason, I like systems off the floor. While these critters can find the way in through a power supply or fan vent, don't cover those, it is wise to make sure your card slots are always covered. I've seen systems that have had cards removed and the little steel back plate has not been replaced. These can be ordered online or purchased from a Computer Store for a couple of bucks and not only help to keep visitors out but also work with the case design in keeping the system cool. Word of caution, if you do see bugs near your case, make sure you don't spray any solution inside your system. There are products on the market that will just as well take care of them outside the case. If you have a problem, it would be advisable to have a Bug or Pest expert come in and treat the area as mice and lizards have been the suspects in systems that short out when they "relieve themselves" on your components.
  • 5) Maintenance: For optimum performance, I would recommend having a computer professional clean out and maintenance your system for the removal of dust and pet hair to shortening the life of your investment. It is something that you can do yourself but be careful how you spray compressed air in a system as a jumper pin on a motherboard could come off and render your computer unbootable until the problem is solved. Spraying air on a fan to make it spin is also not a good idea; the cleaning of a PC should be handled delicately. Vacuums on the outside of a system are ok however inside the case, they can carry static electricity which I am sure you know, is not good for any electronics. The Tucson area has many qualified PC Technicians that will come to you or you can take it to them for cleaning. Some even offer a twice annual service plan for this type of duty. There are some concerns when transporting your computer and be sure to ask the technician of how to best get the computer to them.
  • 6) Laptops Need Love Too: How nice it is to have computers that you can move around the house. The Laptops. Notebooks, Netbooks give us PC freedom just about anywhere. There are some places in the home though that should be cautioned. A Bed is no place for a laptop. Putting the laptop on the comforter or even pillow blocks airflow from the bottom of the laptop and the sides turning it into a Computer Toaster. If you have ever sat in bed with the laptop on your legs, you'll know just how hot it can get. When you smell the hair from your legs burning, it's a sign to get the laptop off of your twigs and put it on a desk. Laptops come with usually 4 or 5 rubber pieces under the bottom of the laptop, this keeps the bottom raised so enough air will flow under the unit. By setting it on the Bed or even carpet can take away any airflow causing system failures, blue screen from memory that takes a holiday or slow performance as the processor goes into heat stroke.

There are some great products on the market for keeping your laptops cool even on a desk, I will tell you about one in the next story, in the meantime - as the summer heat creeps in, give your systems better performance with these tips, have them looked at to make sure the systems are clean and fans are working and enjoy your computing experience. 


Laptops now have so many features; in many cases they are called Desktop Replacements. The run faster, crunch more data and can run on battery power for longer amounts of time. Cooling is just as important for your Notebook as it is for your Desktop System. In fact, with the tighter area of cooling, room to breath is even more important as your system has to work harder.

One of the products on the market to make it easier comes from Cooler Master and it is called the NotePal X1. This desktop device features an ergonomic design with two different height settings which can minimize the discomfort from heavy use working on a notebook. Below a mesh screen on the NotePal X1 is a 120mm fan which circulates air from the bottom of the pad, up through the bottom of the laptop computer. The top of the NotePal X1 is a sturdy Anti-Slip mesh which can keep the unit steady while using it. The extendable feet give adequate room for using the device in conditions outlined above such as a bed or sofa, I would still make sure proper ventilation is taking place before becoming too comfortable.

The Cooler Master NotePal X1 also features a fan speed control for using the system in different environments and is powered by USB 2.0/1.1 with a secondary port also available and ships with the cable as well. Priced at around $25 this is comfortable good looks along with piece of mind.   

Macworld iPhone Superguide 

With the iPhone 3G now available, the people at MacWorld have put together a 154 page book from MacWorld Editors on the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPod Touch. The Second Edition, now covering 3G, gives readers a comprehensive look at the features and settings for the popular devices. Both Mac and PC users will be able to dig in and find shortcuts, methods for synching data, setting up email and finding some of the killer Apps from the Apple Store.

The editors also share some ideas and recommendations on third-party apps, accessories and products to protect and enhance the units. The Macworld's iPhone Superguide, Second Edition is available online as a downloadable PDF, on CD-Rom and in Book format. I talked with Macworld Senior Editor Christopher Breen about the new book and can be listened to at to purchase a copy of the book, visit   


Thanks for checking out the Tech Tuesday Column. Have a Question? Need to see how something is done? Send it in!  Follow his Twitter at techtalkradio.

Andy Taylor, based in Tucson, is host of the TechtalkRadio Show Sundays at 10am till Noon.  He is also a regular guest on Radio shows across the country talking about Technology. Andy is also serving on an Advisory panel with the Consumer Electronics Association for Conferences from CES 2010 in Las Vegas.

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