Computer cooling systems are similar to car engine systems. A computer is an electronic device that performs millions of operations per second. This means the electronic components generate a lot of heat. Electronic components like transistors, diodes, and others require a certain temperature for optimum operation.
There are 2 main types of computer cooling systems, air, and liquid. The cooling system is used to ensure that the heat generated by computer components is removed and a cooler environment is maintained.
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How the computer cooling works
The processor (CPU) of the computer generates heat from the operation that it is caring out. The heat is dissipated to a heat sink which is mostly made of aluminum. When the heat is on the sink a fan is used to blow fresh cool air to cool it down.
The heat sink is usually fixed directly on top of the processor then the fan comes after the heat sink. Fresh air enters the computer system from the open left on the casing since the system unit is not air-tight.
Where is the computer cooling located?
Overall the whole system requires cooling but some need it more. CPU is the main component that has a cooling system since it is the main processing device.
Next is the computer power supply unit (PSU). It supplies the whole system with power and hence needs cooling.
Other components that require cooling includes graphic cards, main memory, chipsets, hard disk, and motherboard in general. Depending on the computer they may have a dedicated cooling system or they are positioned near the cooling system for the CPU and power supply.
2 types of cooling systems in a computer
- Air types of cooling system
These are the most common type of cooling systems in most PCs. they are also the cheapest. They have a heat sink to dissipate heat and a fan to blow fresh cool air into them. These types of systems make noise due to fan rotation. Read more on air cooling.
- Liquid types of cooling system
They are mostly used for high-end computers like gaming which carry out many operations. They are better at cooling, and have less noise than the air type but are bulky in size and expensive.
Mostly water is pumped through the pipes which move across the CPU to absorb the heat and then it dissipates through the radiator. It works almost similarly to a motor vehicle radiator cooling system. Some of the liquid systems also have a fan. More on how the liquid cooling system works.
Comparison between air vs liquid computer cooling
|S.NO||Air computer cooling systems||Liquid computer cooling systems|
|1||Mostly used for ordinary PC.||Used for high-performance computers such as gaming|
|2||Uses a fan and heat sink to remove heat.||Water is the main liquid used, and a radiator removes heat|
|3||Because fans make noise||Less noise since the liquid is just flowing through pipes.|
|4||It is more compact.||They are relatively big to accommodate the whole system.|
|5||Mostly they are internal within the system unit.||They are added as extensions and mostly they are external devices.|
|6||They are relatively cheaper.||They are expensive compared to air cooling systems.|
4 functions of cooling system to a computer.
- Prevent overheating: the main work of a cooling system is to remove heat from system components to prevent overheating.
- To help achieve a high processing speed: the cooler the system is the high chance of having a high speed. This is because the computer will be working to its optimum capacity.
- Reduce hardware breakdown: different components have a different threshold of how much heat they can bare. The cooler system ensures all hardware components don’t break down.
- Prevent computer random shutdown: when the computer starts overheating the sensor activates the fan and the cooling system starts. If the cooling system doesn’t function well then the computer is set to shut down to prevent components breakdown.
6 components of the computer cooling system.
- Heat sink: is made up of high heat conductor material such as copper or aluminum. To absorb more heat they have a large surface area and fins to add even more surface. They soak the heat away from the processor
- Cooling fans: after the heat has reached the sink surface the fan blows away hot heat from away and brings in fresh cool air. In most air cooling systems, there are 2 fans near the processor and another on the power supply.
- Radiator: This is used by liquid computer cooling systems. It is fixed toward the out part of the casing and it has a fan that cools the liquid. It dispels the heat from the system with help of a fan. After the cooling, the cool liquid goes back into circulation. NB// some of the most liquid cooling systems don’t have a fan.
- Water pump: it is a simple pump that ensures the liquid circulates from the radiator to the system and back.
- Liquid circulation pipes: These are made of high thermal components that can absorb the heat from the system and then move it to the liquid which transfers it to the radiator for cooling.
- Liquid reservoir: this is an extra tank that holds more liquid to increase system efficiency. It can be used to refill the coolant.
Best cooling system for gaming PC
Most gaming systems are high-performance and use overclocking which generates a lot of heat. This means the best type of cooling is the use of the water cooling technique.
Cooling system for a server room and data center.
The server room or data center is a central point of an institution’s data and has many core institution data processing equipment.
The room should be optimized to ensure that the pieces of equipment are working within the required temperatures. The server hardware come with a cooling system but now we need to ensure the room itself is cool.
The following solution can be implemented to ensure the server room is cool.
- Open windows and ventilation: the simplest solution is to ensure where the room is located has enough ventilation. For instance, you can open the windows and other ventilation but ensure you don’t compromise the security of the server room.
- Install a fan: you can have a ceiling fan installed in the room to remove hot air and bring in fresh cool air. The fan improves air circulation.
- Install wall-mounted air conditioner: if your budget allows for a more efficient cooling system you can have a wall air conditioner. This conditioner can automatically turn on and off depending on the room temperature. They have sensors that help control the temperature and humidity in the room.
- Install the liquid cooling system to the server components such as the processor. If you need a more direct type of cooling you can install an additional cooling system for the servers themselves instead of the whole room.
- Use an air-conditioned server rack. This involves fixing the cooling fan to the racks that are used to hold the server. The number of fans will depend on how cool you need the system to be.
Computer cooling system problems and how to resolve them.
Sometimes the cooling system may fail to function which is a big risk to the computer and its components.
- Dust clogs the fan and ventilation which stops the fan and cool air from entering the system. This can be resolved by blowing the dust in the fan and the whole computer.
- Dry thermal paste. This is a paste that is between the processor and the sink that move heat to the sink. When it dry-up it cannot dissipate heat to the sink hence overheating. You can open the system cover and replace the paste.
- Computer infected with malware. Some malware can increase the CPU usage beyond its capacity which can lead to overheating. This can be resolved by removing the malware by using of updated antivirus.
- Overclocking system. If you implement overclocking in your system and you don’t have a powerful cooling system it can lead to overheating of the system. Therefore to solve this issue you can stop overclocking or use an extra cooling system such as liquid cooling.
- The thermal sensor not is not working. The sensor is supposed to control how much air or liquid is supplied to cool down the system. If it stops working it means the system won’t know if it is overheating.
- Running heavy resource applications. Depending on computer capacity some applications may be overtasking. Ensure you run applications that can be supported by your system to prevent the system from overheating.