Why Does My Computer Get So Hot | Common Reasons

Let’s face it at one time or another, you have noticed your computer running hot and asked the question why. Naturally, you were concerned, right? After all, you spent a considerable amount of money and want to do everything you can to protect your investment. As you know heat is a big enemy of computers and electrical components. So anything you can do to control heat is going to make your computer last longer. So let’s look at some reasons why a computer gets hot and answer the question should you be concerned. 

Why does my computer get so hot

A really hot computer is an early indication something is wrong. Common reasons why computers get hot is one or more fans stopped working, or the computer is too close to a heater vent or too close to nearby equipment like a printer or, the computer vent is blocked. These are common reasons why a computer will get hot. The solution is usually not complicated to fix but does require you to diagnose the problem. So let us dive in and find out how you can tell what the problem is and how you can fix it. But first, I will answer the question of how hot a computer should get and what is considered typical operating temperatures. 

How hot should a computer get?

How hot should a computer get

As you may well know the CPU or Central Processing Unit on a computer generates heat. The more work it is performing the more heat it generates. So, if you are playing a game or doing video editing for example you are working your CPU and GPU Graphics Processing Unit and its generating heat. To combat heat your CPU and GPU have fans that turn on automatically to disperse heat. As you know mechanical components break down over time and eventually stop working. This includes computer fans. So, as a safety mechanism, your computer motherboard contains a special microcode call BIOS. BIOS stands for Basic Input and Output System and monitors the CPU temperatures. If the temperature exceeds 70 to 100 degrees Celsius the BIOS will shut down your computer preventing damage. To prevent your computer from randomly shutting down or getting too hot the first thing you should do is check to make sure your computer is getting the air it needs.

When you stop and think about it your computer has a lot of electrical components crammed into a small space. All the components are generating heat. Too much heat will shorten the life span of your computer. So common sense says the lower you can make the temperature the better. The first step in lowing temperatures is to make sure your computer is getting enough airflow and the air quality must be good as well. Feeding your computer a bunch of hot air is not good.

Your computer could be getting too hot because it’s next to a vent

The last place you want to place your computer is next to a heating vent. Hot air from the vent gets sucked into your computer and makes the temperature rise inside the computer very quickly. In the summertime when the air conditioning is on you may not notice a problem. Your computer probably runs well. The cool air from the air conditioning is circulated through your computer case keeping internal components nice and cool. This all changes when the temperature changes outside and your heat turns on. Other electrical components nearby could also be generating heat and that heat could find it’s way into your computer if it is too close. It is a good idea to note the position of your computer concerning heating and air conditioning vents and other peripherals that generate heat.

My story on an overheating computer

One of my computers was too close to a heating vent. I did not pay attention when setting up my desk area. I place the computer on a rolling cart on the floor. The computer had a glass side panel and an EVGA motherboard. The motherboard has a temperature display that lights up in red. At any time I could look down through the glass panel and see the motherboards temperature display. During the summer months, I noticed the temperature ran about 29 degrees Celsius which is great. However, during the winter months, I noticed the temperature rose significantly. For a while, I did not associate the computer being too close to the vent to the rise in temperature. Later of course I finally figured it out and moved the computer to the other side of the desk away from the heating vent. My simple adjustment makes a big impact. Temperatures quickly when back to between 29 and 35 degrees Celcius. If your computer does not have a temperature display you can download a program called Core Temp. Core Temp will display the temperature of each of your CPU cores. I will provide a link to Core Temp in the reference section of this article a the bottom. It’s a handy tool to have to monitor your computer's temperature.

Computer fan removes excessive heat

Computer fan removes excessive heat

A computer fan has a big job but can easily get overwhelmed. Fans caked with dust and vents that are also plugged with dust are not effective at removing heat. They are just not going to be able to keep up with CPU running at a high capacity. It will lead to heat buildup inside the computer case. It can get hot enough for the computer to automatically shut down. The best way to prevent a shutdown from happening and to keep your computer running cool by keeping vents and fans clean. You can use a can of compressed air or an electronic duster. If you clean frequently I suggest you invest in an electronic duster. It has the capability of blowing off computer vents and fans with a powerful air stream. If you are not able to clean your computer and notice it’s very dusty then take it to a computer shop for cleaning. It’s a good idea to protect your investment by cleaning the fans and vents regularly.

Computer too hot because of a faulty fan

In early computer configurations, a single fan is all that was needed to cool most computers. A fan was not mounted on the CPU but actually on the power supply. But are computers got more and more powerful and motherboards clock speeds increased temperatures also increased. As a result, more fans are now needed to cool computer components. Fans are mounted on CPUs and GPU with integrated temperature sensors. The sensors collect and report temperatures to the BIOS in which regulate fan speeds. The higher the temperature the faster the fan will spin. You should do visual inspections to make sure fans are spinning. Sometimes the bearings in a fan or the electric motor wear out and the fan needs to be replaced. You can replace the fan yourself or take your computer to a repair shop.

Advanced computer cooling prevents overheating

As computers advance and get even more powerful sometimes the air is just not enough to cool the CPU. Computers also can use water to regulate temperatures. Of course, this increases cost and complexity but liquid cooling systems are more robust and can lower the temperature significantly as opposed to fans alone. Liquid cooling is not new and has been around for some time. Liquid cooling requires a pump, tubing, and a radiator. Funny enough it also includes fans. Fans are mounted on the radiator to carry away the heat. Many dedicated CPU overclockers use advanced cooling systems to chill coolant below ambient temperatures providing superior cooling. I have been using the CoolerMaster 280 for several years with great success. In addition to liquid cooling, there are giant massive radiators with specially designed heat pipes that mount to the top of the CPU. It is a great alternative to liquid cooling. The only word of caution is that you have to take measurements to make sure the radiator will fit into your computer case and it clears your RAM. If you have heatsinks on your RAM they may set up too high and as a result, the radiator style CPU cooler will not fit. Here are some of my favorite CPU coolers.

Keep your CPU cool and prevent shut down due to excessive heat
Product My Thoughts
be quiet! Dark Rock 4 Inaudible Silent Wings 135mm PWM fan. Supports an additional 120mm fan. Check to see if will clear RAM.
Cooler Master MasterLiquid LC240E RGB Close-Loop AIO CPU Liquid Cooler I am currently using the 280mm older version. Excellent product. Dual pump 120 millimeter fans. Reinforced FEP tubing.
DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX400 CPU Air Cooler 4 sintered powder heatpipes directly touch the CPU surface. Allows adding a second fan.
Noctua NH-U12S Does not overhang the RAM or PCIe slots on most current motherboards. Price is nice!
Noctua NH-D15 Dual-tower design with 6 heatpipes and 2 fans. Check to see if will clear RAM.
MSI MAG CORELIQUID 240R Ceramic bearing motor. The cold plate in any orientation, nice!
Cooler Master MasterAir MA620M Dual Tower 6 heat pipes. Has a wide range of speed settings, it can be used for silent operation or fine-tuned for maximum cooling performance .
NZXT Kraken X53 240mm Ran one of these for years, worked great! Allows for adjusting the orientation of the pump head to fit without affecting the direction of the logo.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler Nice price! Air flow: 82.9 CFM; Noise level: 36.0 decibels.
Corsair H100i RGB PLATINUM AIO Liquid CPU Cooler Air flow - 75 CFM. Noise level - 37.0 decibels. CORSAIR iCUE software allows you to control your cooler’s RGB lighting, monitor CPU and coolant temperatures, and adjust fan and pump speeds.
DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX GT BK Nice price! 4 direct contact Heat pipes.


Now you know its normal for a computer to get hot. As the CPU and GPU workload increases so do the amount of heat they generate. Normal operating temperatures are below 70 to 100 degrees Celsius. You BIOS has an automatic safety mechanism that monitors the CPU temperature and will shut down the computer if the temperate exceeds its temperature range. The manufacturer's temperature ranges may differ slightly. You can do your part in keeping your computer running cool by ensuring vents and fans are free from dust. Also, it is important to keep your computer away from heating vents and other peripherals that generate heat. You also know there are advanced cooling options available that can install or have installed that do a much better job at cooling your computer than stock configurations. In the end, its heat will eventually cause electrical components to fail. I hope this was of value to you and got you thinking about your computer's cooling. I would love to hear your comments and any information you have on how you cool your system.

Core Temp
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