Heat And Dust

It’s not just dig­i­tal junk you need to bin – all the dirt that builds up in­side the case also cuts ef­fi­ciency

Micro Mart - - The 21 Things Killing Your Pc -

IT’S COM­MON TO give your house a spring­clean, and you should de­vote the same love and at­ten­tion to your PC – you may be sur­prised by how much dust is dragged in­side by the case fans. Dirt you can’t see may not seem a prob­lem, but it can build up and clog the fans, mak­ing them less ef­fi­cient at cool­ing. Dust also acts as an in­su­la­tor, so your PC will run hot­ter and may even crash as a re­sult.

So grab a pair of Marigolds, delve into your case and fol­low these easy steps to clean it out. By the time you’ve fin­ished, your PC will be sparkling and, more im­por­tantly, run­ning cooler and more ef­fi­ciently.

Case lift Clean­ing the out­side of the case with foam cleaner is sim­ple, but don’t spray the foam on the front or rear of your PC, as it could get into your drives, power sup­ply and ports. Spray the foam on a cloth and ap­ply it to the front of the case, in­clud­ing the op­ti­cal and floppy drives.

The rear of the case will be mainly metal, but rub a foam-cov­ered cloth over the parts of the case that wrap round the rear of your PC. Leave the foam for 15 min­utes, then use a sep­a­rate cloth to wipe the case clean.

Fresh air Clean­ing the in­side of your PC is the big­gest chal­lenge, as dust can build up in hid­den ar­eas. Re­move the side of the PC and any ex­pan­sion cards from the mother­board. If the PC is par­tic­u­larly filthy, you may have to re­move the mother­board, hard disk and op­ti­cal drives too.

Don’t vac­uum the mother­board, as it has too many sen­si­tive com­po­nents. In­stead, spray an air duster over the mother­board – start­ing at the top – so the dust col­lects in the base of the case, or in a bin if you’ve re­moved the mother­board from the case.

Use a vac­uum cleaner to re­move the worst of the dust from the bot­tom of the case and from the pro­ces­sor’s heatsink, fan and case fans. Fi­nally, use plas­tic safe wipes to re­move any dust from the ca­bles in­side your case.

Blown away Dust on ex­pan­sion cards can be re­moved with the air duster. Make sure you’ve re­moved all the dust wedged be­neath com­po­nents, such as ca­pac­i­tors, and check the heatsink and fan on your graph­ics card are free from dust. Blow the air duster into your ex­pan­sion cards’ ports and sock­ets for ex­tra clean­ing power.

Paint job Re­mov­ing dust helps, but there are other things you can do to help pre­vent over­heat­ing. There’s a thin layer of ther­mal com­pound be­tween the pro­ces­sor and the heatsink, which smooths over any im­per­fec­tions in the two metal sur­faces and makes sure that heat from your pro­ces­sor is dis­si­pated ef­fi­ciently. Even­tu­ally, ther­mal com­pound dries out and re­duces the ef­fi­ciency of your cool­ing, so it needs re­plac­ing from time to time. This is a sim­ple job that can have a dra­matic ef­fect.

To do this, first re­move the heatsink from the pro­ces­sor as per the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions. Re­move the ex­ist­ing ther­mal com­pound us­ing a lint-free cloth dabbed with iso­propyl al­co­hol.

Ap­ply a small blob of ther­mal com­pound to the top of the pro­ces­sor. Once the pro­ces­sor is oper­at­ing, the heat will spread the paste. Re-at­tach the heatsink, mak­ing sure it fits tightly. If it isn’t fit­ted prop­erly, you run the se­vere risk of over­heat­ing, which can be fa­tal for your PC.

In­vis­i­ble wire There are lots of power and data ca­bles in­side your PC, which can be messy. They can also im­pede air­flow through your case. For­tu­nately, you can solve this prob­lem us­ing ca­ble ties.

First, find any ca­bles that aren’t in use; there are nor­mally a few un­used power ca­bles in a PC. Fold them up and se­cure them with a ca­ble tie at­tached to the chas­sis to keep them out of the way. Now find any ca­bles that run be­tween roughly the same points and bunch them to­gether be­fore ty­ing them up and to the chas­sis. Fi­nally, find any ca­bles that have ex­cess amounts of slack; you may find your flat IDE rib­bon ca­bles are too long, for ex­am­ple. Put a kink in the ca­ble and tie it up.

Ven­ti­late than never Case fans should draw air over your PC’s com­po­nents and out of the case. As the power sup­ply al­ready blows air out of the back of the case, your rear case fan should be ori­ented so it blows air in the same di­rec­tion.

Make sure any front-mounted fans are pulling cool air in and blow­ing it over your mother­board. Fans have an ar­row on them that shows the di­rec­tion of air­flow. If any fans are mounted in­cor­rectly, undo the screws and turn the fan around be­fore reat­tach­ing it.

You should clean your mother­board care­fully with an air duster

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