One of the most important problems that many of the electronic components installed in a computer have to do with is heat dissipation. If the hardware components (CPU, video card, motherboard, hard drive, power supply,…) are subjected to excessive heat for a long time, their life will be greatly reduced.
In order to avoid having to change one or more of your PC’s hardware components soon, it is therefore essential to make sure that the cooling system in use works properly and is not undersized. The cooling fans used in cheaper PCs are often made of plastic, have a constantly rotating element and sometimes are not even of good workmanship.
A PC fan that is always on or noisy is a symptom of a problem, which must be solved as soon as possible to avoid hardware problems or to avoid headaches and problems during work when the noise coming from the case is loud and unsustainable.
Unless you use liquid cooling systems, a traditional PC fan is always on. The one located on the CPU, in particular, is kept constantly rotating so as to dissipate the heat developed by the processor during its work. When the fan installed on the CPU does not work properly, temperatures rise rapidly.
If the fan seems to run at high speed (maximum number of revolutions per minute or at least much faster than normal) there may be a problem.
It is not a problem, for example, if the fan should increase the rotation in case of intensive processing. If, on the other hand, the CPU fan should remain constantly rotating at maximum or almost maximum speed, then there is definitely a problem.
Heat sinks are dust receptacles. The dust, in turn, over time, adversely affects the rotation of the fan often causing abnormal operation and, in the final analysis, noise. When you start to hear noise from the fans or one or more fans are always on (for “always on” we refer to a rotation at high speed) it is always good to do everything immediately to understand the cause of the problem and provide for its resolution.
Checking The Processes In Progress
The first test to be carried out is on the software side. When pressing the key combination CTRL+SHIFT+ESC from the Windows environment, you will need to make sure that there are no processes running that engage the CPU in an irregular manner.
To proceed, simply click on the Processes tab of the Windows Task Manager window and then on the CPU column to sort the processes by processor workload.
If necessary, click a second time on the CPU column of the Task Manager if the processes running on the system have been sorted by increasing workload on the processor.
You will then have to make sure to click the Show processes button of all users to do a check on all running processes, not just those opened by the logged in user.
The best situation is when the System Inactivity Process is indicated at 90-100%.
As explained in the article Monitoring Windows processes and running programs if the System Idle Process is the lion’s share, it means that the system is basically idle, i.e. there are no operations in progress that commit it significantly.
If, on the other hand, one or more processes should constantly weigh down the processor for a long time, it will be necessary to ascertain their nature and identity. One or more processes that intensively engage the CPU, are able to raise, even very quickly, the temperatures of the processor and, consequently, induce the fan to rotate more quickly in an attempt to dissipate the heat developed.
In the article Monitoring Windows processes and running programs we presented some suggestions to identify which processes weigh down the processor.
A great online tool for understanding what secution processes are for is Should I block it?, a service we presented in our article Using HijackThis still makes sense?
Stopping processes related to poorly developed programs or, even worse, unwanted components, will reduce – typically to zero – the workload on the processor.
The important thing is to carefully check the processes that cause problems, which program they belong to and, if necessary, evaluate their uninstallation.
On older systems, with a not “latest” hardware, even keeping many cards open with the web browser can generate workloads that are not irrelevant to the CPU. For example, a badly designed Flash creativity in a web page may be enough to occupy the processor at 100% or almost.
Checking The Temperature Of The Processor And Other System Components
Free software like Speccy (but there are many others) allows you to check the operating temperature of your CPU, GPU, motherboard, hard drives and so on.
In the image in the picture, the indication of the temperatures detected by Speccy from the information released by the various sensors on an old PC:
In general, a CPU should not go above 75 degrees (desirable maximum temperature: 70 degrees) while a GPU should not go above 80-85 degrees. Obviously, a high peak – due to a temporary load of the CPU or graphics processor – is widely tolerable and sustainable but it is not acceptable that the temperatures are constantly high, especially when the system is not used (idle).
For each processor, the relevant specifications indicate the maximum and minimum temperatures within which the full functionality is guaranteed.
If the problem on the software side is ruled out, constantly high temperatures indicate insufficient or inadequate heat dissipation or an air circulation that is not up to the situation inside the case. Prolonged work at the maximum temperature specified by the manufacturer (or above this value) can cause system instability problems and significantly reduce hardware life.
The most modern processors integrate a special mechanism capable of modulating the working frequency as needed, reducing it when high temperature values are reached. Alternatively, it is the motherboard that causes the system to shut down completely to avoid damage.
The CPU World site contains maximum and minimum temperature values for each processor on the market.
Speccy software can help you determine immediately what type of processor is installed on your PC.
Also in Speccy, by clicking on the CPU then reading the value shown next to Fan speed, you can check the speed of the fan, expressed in revolutions per minute (RPM). You will notice how, as the heat to be dissipated increases, the speed of the fan (under normal operating conditions) is increased proportionally.
Clean The Fans And Evaluate Their Replacement Dust Is The Worst Enemy Of The Correct Functioning Of The Fans And, Consequently, Of Heat Dissipation
When the fans are particularly dusty they will automatically become much louder than in the past.
In these situations, to help lower temperatures (and noise), one of the best interventions is to carefully clean all the fans.
Usually a can of compressed air removes most of the dirt left between the fan blades. The important thing is to block the fan to avoid that the compressed air could compromise its operation by making it rotate at high speed. To block the fans, simply insert a pen or similar object into them temporarily, holding it with one hand.
The compressed air can never be used at close range on electronic components. These operations, of course, must be carried out with the PC switched off and the power cord disconnected.
In case the problem of noise coming from the CPU fan should not be solved, you can then consider replacing the heatsink.
Below we present those that, in our opinion, are the best for price range. When choosing the new heatsink, you will need to pay the utmost attention to the compatibility aspect: you will need to buy a heatsink that is compatible with the socket of the CPU, mounted on the motherboard.
Just check the technical specifications of your motherboard or check the abbreviation displayed in Speccy, in the CPU section, next to the item Package.
Verify BIOS or UEFI Settings
Generally BIOS and UEFI (What is UEFI and what you need to know about the new BIOS; Accessing UEFI, a substitute for BIOS on new PCs) contain some settings to adjust the behavior of the fans. Each manufacturer calls this feature different, but it is usually found in BIOS/UEFI under the name fan control or similar.
Usually the functionality is found in the advanced settings of the BIOS or UEFI.
Alternatively, you can use the SpeedFan software, developed by the Italian Alfredo Milani Comparetti, which in addition to monitoring temperatures and fan speeds allows, where possible, to alter the settings.
If the sensor chip allows it, SpeedFan allows you to directly change the speed of the fans.
The program is free, compatible with all versions of Windows (including Windows 10) and can be downloaded from this page.
It must be said that not properly optimized BIOS/UEFI updates could heavily alter the logic with which the rotation of the fans is managed.
If you had installed a BIOS or UEFI update that had a negative impact on the operation of the heat sinks (causing the unnecessary rotation at higher speeds than what is actually necessary to keep the temperatures in the optimal range), know that until now we have not found motherboards that do not allow you to go back on your steps by restoring for example a previous version.
Rather, the procedure to follow to restore a previous version of the BIOS or UEFI is not documented and it is necessary to work with a thorough search on the web to find the right solution (often it is a matter of acting on jumpers placed on the motherboard then to re-perform the flashing operation).
Check The Installed Drivers
If the GPU heatsink rotates quickly even when it is not needed, it is likely that the problem may be caused by an incorrect video card driver.
Our advice is to check if the GPU heatsink is running correctly from BIOS/UEFI. If so, we suggest trying to update your graphics card driver or uninstalling it completely and replacing it with another version.