One thing that you’ll want to avoid subjecting your computer components to is excessive amounts of heat. Electronic devices, in general, don’t do well when they get too hot. And, if they reach too high of temperatures, they can completely fail.
This is especially true with your computer’s CPU. If you have a computer or a laptop, it is essential to ensure that your CPU is operating within a normal range of temperatures. CPUs will get hotter as they are asked to carry out more processes. However, with proper cooling measures in place, you can ensure that your CPU won’t get too hot—even when the load on it is high—so that you don’t run into any problems.
Really, there are only two fundamental ways to reduce the temperatures your processor is running at: provide better cooling or get a CPU that operates at lower temperatures. However, there are many different ways to provide better cooling for your processor. In this guide, we’re going to go over nine different ways that you can use to lower your processor’s temperatures. So, if you’re wondering how to lower your CPU temps, keep reading.
Also read, Safe CPU Temps: How Hot Should My CPU Be.
1. Clean Out Your Computer
If you have an older computer, or your computer is located in an area that gets dusty, the first thing you’ll want to do if your CPU temps are too high is to open up your computer and clean it out.
Dust build up in your case can hurt the performance of your case’s fans and reduce airflow, thus preventing your CPU from getting the proper cooling it needs. Cleaning the dust out of your computer on a regular basis is an essential part of maintaining your computer. And, it is even more important if you own a laptop, as laptops are smaller and have restricted airflow as is—so any extra restrictions caused by dust build-up can have a drastic effect on your CPU’s temperatures.
The easiest and most common way to clean out your computer is to use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust on your computer. A 3-pack of compressed air will cost you as little as ~$20 and should last you for quite a while.
For me, personally, I have an air compressor that I use for DIY projects and to fill my car’s tires up. And, I also use the air compressor (with a blow gun attachment) to clean my computer out. This works really well since the air compressor is able to deliver a lot more pressure. I just have to hold the hose quite a bit further back in order to ensure I don’t hurt any of the components inside of my system.
When blowing out dust in your computer, it’s a good idea to focus on the fans inside of your system as much as possible, as well as around any vents or openings in your case where air can get in (or out).
2. Reapply Thermal Paste
After cleaning out your computer, the next thing you’ll want to do is reapply thermal paste. If your computer is older, or you haven’t reapplied the thermal paste that goes between your CPU and your CPU’s fan/heatsink, it could be that you’re seeing higher temperatures due to the degradation of the thermal paste.
In that case, you’ll want to remove your CPU cooler and clean off both the contact point on the CPU cooler and the back of the CPU. I usually use a razor blade to scrape off as much of the left-over thermal paste as possible and then use a lint-free cloth to remove whatever is leftover. You can wet the cloth with 90% isopropyl alcohol for a more thorough cleaning, but a dry lint-free cloth should work just fine.
After you’ve cleaned them off, reapply a pea-size drop of thermal paste. If you need some new thermal paste, check out our guide on the best thermal paste.
3. If You Have Bad Cable Management, Fix It
Finally, after you’ve cleaned out your case and reapplied thermal paste, you’ll want to check your cable management. Generally, your cable management doesn’t have to be perfect. But if it’s really bad and you have cables hanging over your main components, or a bulk of unused cables restricting airflow, it could be contributing to your higher CPU temps.
If that’s the case, it would be a good idea to reroute your cables in a way that allows for more airflow inside of your case. For inspiration, check out our post of 23 Examples of Good Cable Management.
4. Upgrade Your CPU Cooler
If you’ve cleaned out your computer, reapplied thermal paste to your CPU/CPU cooler, and you’ve ensured that you have decent cable management in your case and you are still getting CPU temperatures that are too hot, you could try upgrading your CPU cooler.
Of course, if you already have a mid-range or better CPU cooler, you might have bigger problems. But, if you’re using a stock cooler and your temperatures are on the higher side, upgrading to a decent air cooler, or even an AIO liquid cooler could help you bring your processor’s temperatures back within a normal range.
For CPU cooler recommendations, check out the following two guides:
5. Add More Case Fans to Your System (or Reconfigure Them)
If you have a solid CPU cooler already, or you have recently upgraded to one, and you’re still getting higher-than-normal CPU temps, it could be that your case isn’t providing enough airflow into your system. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to check and see if you can add some additional fans in your existing case to try and increase the airflow inside of your system.
If you already have plenty of fans in your case, you might want to try reconfiguring them. If all of your fans are pulling air into your system and you don’t have any fans set in an exhaust configuration, the positive pressure in your case won’t allow as much heat to exit the case, which could cause your CPU to be running at uncommonly high temperatures. On the flip side, if all of your fans are configured to exhaust air out of your case, then the negative pressure in your case could result in higher-than-normal CPU temperatures.
So, if your fans aren’t configured properly (where you have just as much air coming in (or at least, a fairly similar level) as you do going out), then you might want to also play around with them to see if it will help in reducing your CPU temperatures.
6. Upgrade Your PC Case
If none of the above works, or if you’re just trying to lower your CPU temperatures as much as possible, you could try getting a new computer case that offers better airflow.
In order to find a case that has better airflow, it’s a good idea to look for a bigger case (more room means your components won’t be as closely quartered) that has a ventilated front and top panel and plenty of options to install more fans.
For case recommendations, you can check out our PC Case Buyer’s Guide.
7. Speed Up Your Existing Fans
One way that you might be able to increase the airflow in your system to help keep your processor cooler is to use a program like SpeedFan to force your fans to operate at higher speeds. The faster they spin, the more air can be moved into (and out of) your case, which will help keep your system and your CPU operating at lower temperatures.
8. For Laptop Users, Get A Laptop Cooler
When I first started playing World of Warcraft back in the day, I had a really crappy laptop. The laptop could barely run WoW on the lowest settings. On lower settings, I would get ~20 FPS and at least be able to play the game. However, after playing the game for 20-30 minutes, the laptop (and processor) would get so hot, that the framerate would drop down to below 10 FPS and I couldn’t play the game.
So, one solution I had was to hook the laptop up to my TV with an HDMI cable, put my laptop on top of a large window fan, and use an extra keyboard to play the game without the drop to under 10 frames per second.
Of course, nowadays they make pretty powerful laptop coolers that can help keep your system and CPU running cooler. If you do have a laptop and your CPU is running too hot, you might want to give a laptop cooler a shot. Or, you can always just use a large window fan, too!
9. Lower the Temperature in the Location Your PC is Operating
Finally, if all else fails and your CPU isn’t faulty, maybe you are just trying to run in it too hot of an environment? The hotter it is in the location where your computer is being used, the higher the temperatures your CPU will reach. If you’re running Prime95 in an 80-degrees Fahrenheit room, you’re going to hit much higher CPU temperatures than if you were to run Prime95 on a system that was operating in a 65-degrees Fahrenheit room.
So, if you’re having problems with your CPU’s temperatures, definitely consider the temperature of the room in which you are running your computer in as that could be pushing your processor to the brink.
Need to Lower Your CPU Temps? Try the Nine Steps Above
If your CPU temps are too high, one of the nine solutions above (or a combination of them) could help you get your temperatures down to a reasonable level. If none of the above works, it might be that you have a faulty component and it’s time for an upgrade. If you’re in the market for a new processor, check out our CPU Buyer’s Guide.