Computer cooling is the process of removing heat from computer components.
A computer system's components produce large amounts of heat during operation, including, but not limited to, integrated circuits such as CPUs, chipset and graphics cards, along with hard drives. Microchipsjpg|right|thumb|200px|Microchips ( EPROM memory with a transparent window showing the integrated circuit inside A chipset is a group of Integrated circuits or chips that are designed to work together and are usually marketed as a single product A video card, also known as a graphics accelerator card, display adapter, or graphics card, is a hardware component whose function is to A hard disk drive ( HDD) commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive, is a Non-volatile storage device This heat must be dissipated in order to keep these components within their safe operating temperatures, and both manufacturing methods and additional parts are used to keep the heat at a safe level. This is done mainly using heat sinks to increase the surface area which dissipates heat, fans to speed up the exchange of air heated by the computer parts for cooler ambient air, and in some cases softcooling, the throttling of computer parts in order to decrease heat generation. A heat sink (or heatsink) is an environment or object that absorbs and dissipates heat from another object using Thermal contact (either direct or radiant A mechanical fan is an electrically powered device used to produce an airflow for the purpose of creature comfort (particularly in the heat ventilation, exhaust
Overheated parts generally exhibit a shorter maximum life-span and may give sporadic problems resulting in system freezes or crashes.
The amount of heat generated by an integrated circuit (e. Microchipsjpg|right|thumb|200px|Microchips ( EPROM memory with a transparent window showing the integrated circuit inside g. a CPU or GPU), the prime cause of heat build up in modern computers, is a function of the efficiency of its design, the technology used in its construction and the frequency and voltage at which it operates.
In operation, the temperature levels of a computer's components will rise until the temperature gradient between the computer parts and their surroundings is such that the rate at which heat is lost to the surroundings is equal to the rate at which heat is being produced by the electronic component, and thus the temperature of the component reaches equilibrium. Temperature is a physical property of a system that underlies the common notions of hot and cold something that is hotter generally has the greater temperature In Thermodynamics, a thermodynamic system is said to be in thermodynamic equilibrium when it is in thermal equilibrium Mechanical equilibrium, and
For reliable operation, the equilibrium temperature must be sufficiently low for the structure of the computer's circuits to survive.
Additionally, the normal operation of cooling methods can be hindered by other causes, such as:
It is common practice to include thermal sensors in the design of certain computer parts, e. A sensor is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument g. CPUs and GPUs, along with internal logic that shuts down the computer if reasonable bounds are exceeded. It is however unwise to rely on such preventative measures, as it is not universally implemented, and may not prevent repeated incidents from permanently damaging the integrated circuit.
The design of an integrated circuit may also incorporate features to shut down parts of the circuit when it is idling, or to scale back the clock speed under low workloads or high temperatures, with the goal of reducing both power use and heat generation.
While any method used to move air around or to computer enclosures would count as air cooling, fans are by far the most commonly used implement for accomplishing that task. A computer fan can be any fan inside a Computer case used for cooling purposes and may refer to fans that draw cooler air into the case from the outside expel warm The term computer fan usually refers to fans attached to computer enclosures, but may also be intended to signify any other computer fan, such as a CPU fan, GPU fan, a chipset fan, PSU fan, HDD fan, or PCI slot fans. Power supply is a reference to a source of Electrical power. A device or system that supplies Electrical or other types of Energy to an output load A hard disk drive ( HDD) commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive, is a Non-volatile storage device The Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI Standard (commonly PCI) specifies a Computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a Computer Common fan sizes include 40, 60, 80, 90 and 120 mm. The Millimetre ( American spelling: millimeter, symbol mm) is a unit of Length in the Metric system, equal to
Desktop computers typically use one or more fans for heat management. A desktop computer is a Personal computer (PC in a form intended for regular use at a single location as opposed to a mobile Laptop or portable computer Almost all desktop power supplies have at least one fan to exhaust air from the case. Most manufacturers recommend bringing cool, fresh air in at the bottom front of the case, and exhausting warm air from the top rear.
If there is more air being forced into the system than being pumped out (due to an imbalance in the number of fans), this is referred to as a "positive" airflow, as the pressure inside the unit would be higher than outside. A balanced or neutral airflow is the most efficient, although a slightly positive airflow results in less dust build up if dust filters are used.
With recent researches and studies, some companies are making noiseless computers. A quiet PC is a Personal computer that makes little Noise. Common uses for quiet PCs include video editing sound mixing home servers, and Home
Data centers typically contain many racks of flat 1U servers. A data center is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components such as telecommunications and storage systems A rack unit or U (less commonly RU) is a unit of measure used to describe the Height of equipment intended for mounting in a 19-inch rack Air is drawn in at the front of the rack and exhausted at the rear. Because data centers typically contain such large numbers of computers and other power-consuming devices, they risk overheating of the various components if no additional measures are taken. Thus, extensive HVAC systems are used. HVAC (pronounced either "H-V-A-C" or occasionally " H-vak " is an Initialism or Acronym that stands for " Heating Often a raised floor is used so the area under the floor may be used as a large plenum for cooled air and power cabling.
Laptops are typically made to rest on a solid surface. A laptop computer, also known as a notebook computer, is a small Personal computer designed for mobile use. Unfortunately a flat surface is the least desirable angle to dissipate heat, lower temperatures are achieved by a chimney effect when a laptop is set at an angle from horizontal. It is important to note that laptops are neither designed for nor should they be used on surfaces or in spaces which impede the free flow of air (such as carpet or bed linens), as heat damage and/or thermal shutdown/slow-down may occur.
Laptop stands are accessories which, besides raising the laptops screen to another height, are also meant to reduce airflow restrictions.
An uncommon practice is to submerse the computer's components in a thermally conductive liquid. Heat conduction or thermal conduction is the spontaneous transfer of thermal energy through matter from a region of higher Temperature to a region of lower Personal computers that are cooled in this manner do not generally require any fans or pumps, and may be cooled exclusively by passive heat exchange between the computer's parts, the cooling fluid and the ambient air. Extreme density computers such as the Cray-2 may use additional radiators in order to facilitate heat exchange. The Cray-2 was a vector Supercomputer made by Cray Research starting in 1985. Radiators and convectors are types of Heat exchangers designed to transfer Thermal energy from one medium to another for the purpose of cooling
The liquid used must have sufficiently low electrical conductivity in order for it not to interfere with the normal operation of the computer's components. Electrical conductivity or specific conductivity is a measure of a material's ability to conduct an Electric current. If the liquid is somewhat electrically conductive, it may be necessary to insulate certain parts of components susceptible to electromagnetic interference, such as the CPU.  For these reasons, it is preferred that the liquid be dielectric. A dielectric is a nonconducting substance ie an insulator. The term was coined by William Whewell in response to a request from Michael Faraday.
Liquids commonly used in this manner include various liquids invented and manufactured for this purpose by 3M, such as Fluorinert. 3M Company ( formerly Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company until 2002 is an American multinational conglomerate corporation with a worldwide Fluorinert is the trademarked brand name for the line of electronics coolant liquids sold commercially by 3M. Various oils, including but not limited to cooking, motor and silicone oils have all been successfully used for cooling personal computers. 
Evaporation can pose a problem, and the liquid may require either to be regularly refilled or sealed inside the computer's enclosure. Liquid may also slowly seep into and damage components, particularly capacitors, causing a computer that initially functions to fail after hours or days immersed.
Where full-power, full-featured modern computers are not required, some companies opt to use less powerful computers or computers with fewer features. For example: in an office setting, the IT department may choose a thin client or a diskless workstation thus cutting out the heat-laden components such as hard drives and optical disks. Information technology ( IT) as defined by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA is "the study design development implementation support A thin client (sometimes also called a lean or slim client) is a client computer or client software in Client-server architecture networks A diskless node (or diskless workstation) is a Workstation or Personal computer without Disk drives which employs Network booting These devices are also often powered with direct current from an external power supply brick which still wastes heat, but not inside the computer itself. Direct current ( DC) is the unidirectional flow of Electric charge. Power supply is a reference to a source of Electrical power. A device or system that supplies Electrical or other types of Energy to an output load
The components used can greatly affect the power consumption and hence waste heat. A VIA EPIA motherboard with CPU typically uses approximately 25 watts of heat whereas a Pentium 4 motherboard typically uses around 140 watts. VIA Technologies ( is a Taiwanese manufacturer of Integrated circuits mainly Motherboard Chipsets CPUs, and memory, and While the former has considerably less computing power, both types are adequate and responsive for tasks such as word processing and spreadsheets. Choosing a LCD monitor rather than a CRT can also reduce power consumption and excess room heat. The cathode ray tube (CRT is a Vacuum tube containing an Electron gun (a source of electrons and a Fluorescent screen with internal or
Some laptop components, such as hard drives and optical drives, are commonly cooled by having them make contact with the computer's frame, increasing the surface area which can radiate and otherwise exchange heat. A laptop computer, also known as a notebook computer, is a small Personal computer designed for mobile use.
In addition to system cooling, various individual components usually have their own cooling systems in place. Components which are individually cooled include, but are not limited to, the CPU, GPU, hard disk and the Northbridge chip. A hard disk drive ( HDD) commonly referred to as a hard drive, hard disk, or fixed disk drive, is a Non-volatile storage device The northbridge, also known as the memory controller hub ( MCH) in Intel systems (AMD VIA SiS and others usually use 'northbridge' is traditionally one Some cooling solutions employ one or more method of cooling, and may also utilize logic and/or temperature sensors in order to vary the power used in active cooling components.
This involves attaching a block of machined metal to the part that needs cooling. An adhesive may be used, or more commonly for a personal computer CPU, a clamp is used to affix the heat sink tight over the chip, with a thermally conductive pad or gel spread in-between. A heat sink (or heatsink) is an environment or object that absorbs and dissipates heat from another object using Thermal contact (either direct or radiant Thermal grease (also called thermal compound, heat paste, heat transfer compound, thermal paste, or This block usually has fins and ridges to increase its surface area. The heat conductivity of metal is much better than that of air, and its ability to radiate heat is better than that of the component part it is protecting (usually an integrated circuit or CPU). Microchipsjpg|right|thumb|200px|Microchips ( EPROM memory with a transparent window showing the integrated circuit inside Until recently, fan cooled aluminium heat sinks were the norm for desktop computers. WikipediaNaming Today many heat sinks feature copper base-plates or are entirely made of copper, and mount fans of considerable size and power. Copper (ˈkɒpɚ is a Chemical element with the symbol Cu (cuprum and Atomic number 29
Heat sinks tend to get less effective with time due to the build up of dust between their metal fins, which reduces the efficiency with which the heat sink transfers heat to the ambient air. Dust is a general name for minute Solid particles with Diameters less than 500 micrometers. Dust build up is commonly countered with canned air, which are used to blow away the dust along with any other unwanted excess material. A gas duster, also erroneously referred to as canned air, is a product consisting of liquefied Difluoroethane, trifluoroethane, or Tetrafluoroethane
Passive heat sinks are commonly found on older CPUs, parts that do not get very hot (such as the chipset), and low-power computers.
This uses the same principle as a passive heat sink cooler, with the only difference being that a fan is directed to blow over or through the heat sink. A mechanical fan is an electrically powered device used to produce an airflow for the purpose of creature comfort (particularly in the heat ventilation, exhaust This results in more air being blown through the heat sink, increasing the rate at which the heat sink can exchange heat with the ambient air. Active heat sinks are the primary method of cooling a modern day processor or graphics card.
The buildup of dust is greatly increased with active heat sink cooling as the fan is continually taking in the dust present in the surrounding air. As a result, dust removal procedures need to be exercised much more frequently than with passive heat sink methods.
In 1821 T. J. Seebeck discovered that different metals, connected at two different junctions, will develop a micro-voltage if the two junctions are held at different temperatures. Thermoelectric cooling uses the Peltier effect to create a Heat flux between the junction of two different types of materials Thomas Johann Seebeck ( April 9 1770 &ndash December 10 1831) was a physicist who in 1821 discovered the Thermoelectric effect Electrical tension (or voltage after its SI unit, the Volt) is the difference of electrical potential between two points of an electrical This effect is known as the "Seebeck effect"; it is the basic theory behind the TEC (thermoelectric cooling). The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric Voltage and vice versa
In 1834 Jean Peltier discovered the inverse of the Seebeck effect, now known as the "Peltier effect". Jean Charles Athanase Peltier (1785 in Ham (France - 1845 in Paris) was a French Physicist. The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric Voltage and vice versa He found that applying a voltage to a thermocouple creates a temperature differential between two sides. In Electrical engineering and industry thermocouples are a widely used type of temperature sensor and can also be used as a means to convert thermal Potential This results in an effective, albeit extremely inefficient heat pump. A heat pump is a machine or device that moves Heat from one location (the 'source' to another location (the 'sink' or 'heat sink' using work.
Modern TECs use several stacked units each composed of dozens or hundreds of thermocouples laid out next to each other, which allows for a substantial amount of heat transfer. In thermal physics, heat transfer is the passage of Thermal energy from a hot to a colder body A combination of bismuth and telluride is most commonly used for thermocouples. Bismuth (ˈbɪzməθ is a Chemical element that has the symbol Bi and Atomic number 83
Since TECs are active heat pumps, they are capable of cooling PC components below ambient temperatures, which is impossible with common radiator cooled water cooling systems and heatpipe HSFs. Water cooling is a method of Heat removal from components As opposed to Air cooling, Water is used as the heat transmitter
While originally limited to mainframe computers, computer watercooling has become a practice largely associated with overclocking in the form of either manufactured "kits" or in the form of DIY setups assembled from individually gathered parts. Water cooling is a method of Heat removal from components As opposed to Air cooling, Water is used as the heat transmitter Mainframes (often colloquially referred to as Big Iron) are Computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications typically bulk data Lately watercooling has seen increasing use in pre-assembled desktop computers.
A heat pipe is a hollow tube containing a heat transfer liquid. A heat pipe is a heat transfer mechanism that can transport large quantities of heat with a very small difference in Temperature between the hotter and colder interfaces As the liquid evaporates, it carries heat to the cool end, where it condenses and then returns to the hot end (under capillary action). Capillary action, capillarity, capillary motion, or wicking is the ability of a substance to draw another substance into it Heat pipes thus have a much higher effective thermal conductivity than solid materials. For use in computers, the heat sink on the CPU is attached to a larger radiator heat sink. Both heat sinks are hollow as is the attachment between them, creating one large heat pipe that transfers heat from the CPU to the radiator, which is then cooled using some conventional method. This method is expensive and usually used when space is tight (as in small form-factor PCs), or absolute quiet is needed (such as in computers used in audio production studios during live recording).
A more extreme way to cool the processor. A vapor compression phase-change cooler is a unit which usually sits underneath the PC, with a tube leading to the processor. Inside the unit is a compressor, the same type that cools a freezer. A refrigerator (often called a " fridge " for short is a cooling appliance comprising a thermally insulated compartment and a Heat pump - The compressor compresses a gas which is cooled (usually with fans and air) condensing it to a liquid. Then, the liquid is pumped up to the processor, where it passes through an expansion device, this can be from a simple capillary tube to a more elaborate thermal expansion valve. The liquid evaporates changing phase, thereby absorbing the heat from the processor. This evaporation can produce temperatures reaching around −30 degrees Celsius. The Celsius Temperature scale was previously known as the centigrade scale. The gas flows down to the compressor and the cycle begins over again. This way, the processor can be cooled to temperatures ranging from −15 to −150 degrees Celsius, depending on the load, type and speed of the processor and the refrigeration system (see refrigeration). Refrigeration is the process of removing Heat from an enclosed space or from a substance and moving it to a place where it is unobjectionable This type of system suffers from a number of issues but mainly one must be concerned with dewpoint and proper insulation of all sub-ambient surfaces must be done otherwise the pipes will sweat dripping water on sensitive electronics.
Alternately a new breed of cooling system is being developed inserting a pump into the thermo siphon loop. This adds another degree of flexibility for the design engineer as the heat can now be effectively transported away from the heat source and either reclaimed or dissipated to ambient. Junction temperature can be tuned by adjusting the system pressure; higher pressure equals higher fluid saturation temperatures. This allows for smaller condensers, smaller fans and/or the effective dissipation of heat in a high ambient environment. These systems are in essence the next generation liquid cooling paradigm as they are approximately 10x more efficient than single phase water. Since the system uses a dielectric as the heat transport media leaks do not cause a catastrophic failure of the electric system.
As liquid nitrogen evaporates at -196 °C, far below the freezing point of water, it is valuable as a phase-change coolant, bringing the additional advantages of being non-toxic and non-combustible. Liquid nitrogen (liquid density at the Triple point is 0707 g/mL is the liquid produced industrially in large quantities by Fractional distillation of The Celsius Temperature scale was previously known as the centigrade scale.
In a typical installation of liquid nitrogen cooling, fans blow air onto the heat sink of the CPU, as water is pumped through a pipe which ends over the heat sink, and similarly liquid nitrogen can be pushed out of a dewar through a pipe which ends over the heat sink. A heat sink (or heatsink) is an environment or object that absorbs and dissipates heat from another object using Thermal contact (either direct or radiant The short, yet wide nitrogen exhaust ends in a basing on the floor of the housing. Evaporating nitrogen pushes away water, which would otherwise condense and lead to short circuits or form ice. Too deep cooling will freeze out the dopant states and the semiconductors will stop working. In Semiconductor production doping is the process of intentionally introducing impurities into an extremely pure (also referred to as intrinsic) semiconductor to A semiconductor' is a Solid material that has Electrical conductivity in between a conductor and an insulator; it can vary over that
By welding an open pipe onto a heat sink, and insulating the pipe, it is possible to cool the processor either with liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature below −196°C, or dry ice. Dry ice is solid Carbon dioxide. It is commonly used as a versatile cooling agent However, after the nitrogen evaporates, it has to be refilled. In the realm of personal computers, this method of cooling is seldom used in other contexts than overclocking trial-runs and record-setting attempts, as the CPU will usually expire within a relatively short period of time due to temperature stress caused by changes in internal temperature. Stress is a measure of the average amount of Force exerted per unit Area.
Softcooling is the practice of utilizing software to take advantage of CPU power saving technologies to minimize energy use. Power management is a feature of some electrical appliances especially copiers, computers and computer Peripherals such as monitors and This is done using halt instructions to turn off or put in standby state CPU subparts that aren't being used or by underclocking the CPU. Underclocking also known as downclocking is the practice of modifying a synchronous circuit's speed settings to run at a lower Clock speed than the manufacturer's
Undervolting is the practice of running the CPU or any other component with voltages below the device specifications. An undervolted component draws less power and thus produces less heat.
Extra cooling is usually required by those who run parts of their computer (such as the CPU and graphics card) at higher voltages or frequencies than manufacturer specifications call for, called overclocking. Increasing performance by this modification of settings results in a greater amount of heat generated, and thus increasing the risk of damage to components and/or premature failure.
The installation of higher performance, non-stock cooling may also be considered modding. Modding is a Slang expression that is derived from the verb " modify " Many overclockers simply buy more efficient, and often, more expensive fan and heat sink combinations, while others resort to more exotic ways of computer cooling, such as liquid cooling, Peltier effect heatpumps, heat pipe or phase change cooling.
There are also some related practices that have a positive impact in reducing system temperatures:
Heat sink lapping is the smoothing and polishing of the contact (bottom) part of a heat sink to increase its heat transfer efficiency. The desired result is a contact area which has a more even surface, as a less even contact surface creates a larger amount of insulating air between the heat sink and the computer part it is attached to. Polishing the surface using a combination of fine sandpaper and abrasive polishing liquids can produce a mirror-like shine, an indicator of a very smooth metal surface. However, it should be noted that even a curved surface can become extremely reflective, yet not particularly flat, as is the case with curved mirrors; thus heat sink quality is based on overall flatness, more than optical properties. Lapping a high quality heat sink can damage it, as although the heat sink may become shiny, it is likely that more material will be removed from the edges, making the heat sink less effective overall.
If attempted a piece of plate glass should be used as it self-levels as it cools and offers the most economical solution to producing a perfectly flat surface.
Some overclockers use special thermal compounds whose manufacturers claim to have a much higher efficiency than stock thermal pads. Heat sinks clean of any grease or other thermal transfer compounds have a very thin layer of these products applied, and then are placed normally over the CPU. Many of these compounds have a high proportion of silver as their main ingredient due to its high thermal conductivity. Silver (ˈsɪlvɚ is a Chemical element with the symbol " Ag " (argentum from the Ancient Greek: ἀργήντος - argēntos gen In Physics, thermal conductivity, k is the property of a material that indicates its ability to conduct Heat. The resulting difference in the temperature of the CPU is measurable (several degrees celsius), but the heat transfer does appear to be much superior to stock compounds. The Celsius Temperature scale was previously known as the centigrade scale. Some people experience negligible gains and have called to question the advantages of these exotic compounds, calling the style of application more important than the compound itself. Also note that there may be a 'setting period' and negligible gains may improve over time as the compound reaches its optimum thermal conductivity.
Most older PCs use flat ribbon cables to connect storage drives (IDE or SCSI). A ribbon cable (also known as multi-wire planar cable is a cable with many conducting wires running parallel to each other on the same flat plane AT Attachment with Packet Interface ( ATA/ATAPI) is a standard interface used to connect storage devices such as Hard disks Solid-state These large flat cables greatly impede airflow by causing drag and turbulence. Overclockers and modders often replace these with rounded cables, with the conductive wires bunched together tightly to reduce surface area. Theoretically, the parallel strands of conductors in a ribbon cable serve to reduce crosstalk (signal carrying conductors inducing signals in nearby conductors), but there is no empirical evidence of rounding cables reducing performance. In Electronics, the term crosstalk ( XT) refers to any phenomenon by which a signal transmitted on one circuit or channel of a Transmission system This may be because the length of the cable is short enough so that the effect of crosstalk is negligible. Problems usually arise when the cable is not electromagnetically protected and the length is considerable, a more frequent occurrence with older network cables. Electromagnetic shielding is the process of limiting the flow of Electromagnetic fields between two locations by separating them with a barrier made of conductive material
These computer cables can then be cable tied to the chassis or other cables to further increase airflow.
This is less of a problem with new computers that use Serial ATA which has a much thinner cable.
The colder the cooling medium (the air), the more effective the cooling. In thermal physics, heat transfer is the passage of Thermal energy from a hot to a colder body Cooling air temperature can be reduced by these guidelines:
Fewer fans strategically placed will improve the airflow internally within the PC and thus lower the overall internal case temperature in relation to ambient conditions. The use of larger fans also improves efficiency and lowers the amount of waste heat along with the amount of noise generated by the fans while in operation.
There is little agreement on the effectiveness of different fan placement configurations, and little in the way of systematic testing has been done. For a rectangular PC (ATX) case, a fan in the front with a fan in the rear and one in the top has been found to be a suitable configuration. However, AMD's (somewhat outdated) system cooling guidelines notes that "A front cooling fan does not seem to be essential. In fact, in some extreme situations, testing showed these fans to be recirculating hot air rather than introducing cool air. " It may be that fans in the side panels could have a similar detrimental effect -- possibly through disrupting the normal air flow through the case. However, this is unconfirmed and probably varies with the configuration.