Anyone who has ever been played games on a computer may encounter a strange phenomena. The desktop or laptop computer will randomly crash or reboot for no apparent reason. This happens most often when playing games that really stretch your computer's abilities. Examples of these would be Quake, Doom and other 3-D games that require huge processing power.
While there may also be other reasons, the root cause is often due to excessive heat. If this is the case, as it often is, you may be able to resolve your computer problems by yourself. So before you run off to get someone to help fix your computer, make sure that you've tried to solve the problem by yourself. You may not need someone else and in the process save yourself the expense of having to pay someone for their services.
How to recognize the problem of a computer overheating?
Here are the symptoms that you should be looking for:
- Your computer boots up without any problems and you can login. Everything seem to work perfectly okay.
- There are no problems when doing regular computer work such as word processing, Internet browsing, etc.
- When you want to play a certain game, it starts up okay and you can play for a while without any issues.
- Suddenly, often in the middle of the game, the computer crashes and reboots without any prior warning.
If you experience this behavior or something similar, you may be having problems with overheating.
What causes excessive heat in a computer?
There are many reasons why a computer will overheat. In fact, as long as your computer is old enough, it's actually inevitable. Here are some of the causes:
- Most computers rely on fans to cool off. These fans have a limited lifespan and will eventually stop working. They will then need to be replaced.
- Local changes in temperature and humidity can increase the heat index within your computer. Your geographic location and time of the year (winter, summer) play a big role.
- Insufficient or blocked airflow to and from your computer means the computer cannot properly get rid of the heat.
- Dust buildup within the computer and on various components (CPU, graphics card) can trap heat and reduce its ability to cool off using heatsinks.
Some or all of these factors can combine to create a situation where heat gradually builds up until the computer can no longer tolerate the stress of the heat.
Why does overheating cause a computer to crash?
Most electronics, which includes computers, can only operate safely within certain parameters. These parameters include the temperature of the local environment. As long as the computer stays within those parameters and does not exceed them for too long, the computer should function as designed.
But if it gets too hot or too cold, electronics cannot operate as intended and will fail at some point. It may take some time, but it's inevitable beyond a certain point. Crashing and rebooting are symptoms that something is wrong and you need to fix things as soon as possible. If you don't, permanent damage will be done, which will be more expensive to repair. In the worst case, your computer is no longer operable and you'll need to spend money on a new computer.
Why does my computer crash only when playing certain games or on certain dates?
The reason why it happens with games in general, and 3-D games in particular, is because they tend to stretch the resources of a computer much more than other tasks such as word processing or Internet browsing. Your computer will only run at a fraction of its actual capacity most of the time. But with 3-D games, your computer, and its central processing unit (CPU) in particular, may be running at close to 100 percent.
When your computer is running at maximum capacity, it generates a lot more heat than is usually the case. The possibility arises that the computer can no longer cope with the stress and crashes. Once you stop playing games, the computer resorts back to normal. The reason why is because the computer doesn't have to work as hard and there is not so much heat generated. This it can tolerate.
Note that it isn't just games that causes such computer crashes. Some software applications that are computationally intensive, such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, can also experience similar behavior with overheating. However, games are a lot more prevalent with people than these applications. That is why this phenomena is usually associated with games.
The reason why your computer may only crash on certain days is because of daily fluctuations in temperature and humidity. If, for example, it's hotter on Wednesday than on Tuesday, then your computer may crash even though it worked fine the day before. In the afternoon it's hotter than in the morning or evening and the likelihood of problems during those hours is greater.
The season also plays a role. The temperature is much lower during winter, which helps to keep the computer cool. But during the summer, things heat up a lot. Cooling may no longer be sufficient even when it's fine the rest of the year. If you live in a country close to the equator, you're also more likely to have problems.
How to fix computer problems related to overheating?
The good news with computer problems related to overheating is that they can often be resolved by yourself. You won't have to spend any or too much money most of the time. Here is what you need to do:
- First, open the computer case and increase the air flow. This is just a preliminary solution until a more permanent solution can be found.
- Make sure that air can flow freely. Air exhausts of desktops, and laptops in particular, should be kept unblocked. The compact design of laptops where everything is squeezed together makes them especially vulnerable to problems.
- If you have an airconditioned room, move your computer if it isn't already there. Lower the thermostat, if possible, to help cool your computer.
- Check if your computer fans are still working. If they aren't spinning, you will have to replace them with new ones. You may consider bigger, more powerful fans or even liquid cooling to maximize efficient removal of heat.
- Remove all the dust that has accumulated within your computer and on all its components. Compressed air works great if you have any.
- Make a habit of regularly opening your computer to see if everything is still in working order. Get rid of dust regularly to prevent computer problems down the road.
If you follow this routine, you can drastically minimize the odds of your computer crashing due to heat issues. You will extend the lifespan of your computer and save yourself some money in the long run. Isn't that worth it?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.