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5 Cooling Hacks to Keep Your Gaming PC Ice-Cold

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5 Cooling Hacks to Keep Your Gaming PC Ice-Cold

What are the best cooling hacks to get your PC running at optimal temps? Let’s face it, gaming can take a toll on any hardware. You’ve no doubt felt the temperature in your room rise as you play a resource-intensive game. This becomes particularly pronounced if you’re playing a newer game on an older PC when the hardware gets taxed. Thankfully, there are some ways to reduce the heat.

Today’s guide takes a look at some of the easier ways to get your temperatures lower while gaming. Some of these cooling hacks are self-evident and might be a common practice for you as a PC gamer already. However, some of these are seldom mentioned when talking about the best ways to stabilize the temperatures of your PC while gaming.

Underclocking

Graphics card (GPU)
Underclocking your GPU and CPU can go a long way at maintaining cooler temps for your PC.

One of the easiest cooling hacks you can do for your gaming PC is to underclock the CPU and GPU. This maintains nearly identical performance while also reducing the amount of electricity drawn from the wall by the components themselves. Now, this isn’t a process for the faint of heart. You’ll have to be comfortable with overclocking as a process to successfully do it.

Most GPUs on the market will have some support for underclocking, but you may run into issues with your CPU. If you’re using a pre-built PC, you might not be aware of the difference in the various CPU models offered by manufacturers. There are some variants out there that just operate at their stock speeds and voltages.

With these, like the F series of processors from Intel, you can’t underclock. However, with the Ryzen X and Intel K models, you’ve got free reign. Underclocking your GPU is a cinch, but you’ll need a utility like MSI Afterburner. This has the added benefit of working with both NVIDIA and AMD GPUs.

CPUs will require you to have some familiarity with your UEFI or BIOS. You’ll want to experiment a little bit to find a stable underclock. Once it is done, however, you should notice greatly reduced temperatures while gaming and idling alike.

Fan Settings

Case Mod concept with RGB CPU air cooler, case led kit, RGB ram.
Setting a good fan curve for your CPU cooler and GPU can help beat the heat when it comes time to game.

This one might seem fairly obvious. One of the best cooling hacks you have at your disposal is defining the temps your fans start operating. This might not be an option for certain GPUs, although you can circumvent that entirely with the use of something like MSI Afterburner.

For CPUs, however, you can readily set the fan in your UEFI or BIOS menu. This gives you a lot of fine control over the temps as a whole. Before setting your fan speeds, you’ll want to leave something like MSI Afterburner up in the background while playing a game. This should give you a good idea of what temperatures your components are reaching while gaming.

From there, you have data points to target while setting your fan speeds. Now, you don’t want the fans themselves to run at full tilt all the time. That’s wasteful and causes wear and tear to the assemblies while you’re doing something mundane like browsing the web.

Setting the fan temps to kick in at certain temperatures will make sure the PC stays nice and quiet while you’re doing lower resource tasks. When you decide to boot up something like Starfield, then it might sound like a jet engine taking off, but the internal components will be cool as a cucumber with any luck.

Reapply Thermal Paste

Applying new thermal paste to a CPU. Thermal paste used as an interface between heat sinks and CPU.
Reapplying thermal paste regularly can keep temperatures at a consistent baseline.

Believe it or not, you’ll have to reapply the thermal compound regularly. This isn’t so much one of the best cooling hacks as it is just regular maintenance for your PC. Over time thermal paste becomes brittle and dries out. Once it does so, it loses its ability to cool and displace heat effectively.

If you’ve noticed a sudden rise in your computer’s temps while playing a game, it could very well be old thermal paste making itself known. Now, reapplying thermal paste to your CPU isn’t much work at all. You’ll need a little isopropyl alcohol and a fresh tube of compound and you should be off to the races.

The more troublesome component to apply thermal paste to is the GPU. Your graphics card bears quite a bit of the processing load when it comes to gaming. That said, you’ll likely also want to look up a guide on how to best apply thermal paste to your GPU. This will likely require uninstalling the component entirely to get access to the entirety of the component.

New thermal paste goes a long way to revitalizing the performance of a gaming PC. Where you would experience thermal throttling prior, that might not be an issue at all. This is a periodic adjustment, which should only really be done every six months or so.

Clean Your Case

Compressed air can
Getting the dust out of your case can help bring temps back in line.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Cleaning your case regularly is a great way to increase the thermal efficiency. Like replacing the thermal paste, this isn’t so much a cooling hack as it is just a general rule of thumb. Dust and dirt can build up on all the components of a computer. That very same filth is going to rob you of performance.

Cleaning your case should be done with a sterile anti-static cloth and something like compressed air to gently blow dust loose. You’ll want to hold your case fans, CPU cooler, and GPU cooler in place while blowing out the dust.

The anti-static cloth comes in handy for wiping away caked dust and getting into harder-to-reach spots. Once inside, you should be able to get your entire case and all the components shiny and clean in no time at all.

Regularly cleaning your computer is nowhere near as fun as playing games. However, if you want to see a longer lifespan overall out of your PC, just take the time and clean it up.

Keep Drivers Up to Date

GPU vs. CPU
Updating your GPU and chipset drivers can help iron out any bugs or flaws that might result in runaway temperatures.

You might be reading this and scratching your head. Yes, updating your drivers is one of many cooling hacks. No hardware manufacturer is without fault, and occasionally a driver can cause issues with components like your GPU. You’ll want to keep them updated regularly to circumvent any sort of issues.

You don’t need to go out and update drivers every single time there is a beta release for your GPU. But major point releases should likely get installed. Windows updates and chipset drivers for your CPU are also heavily recommended.

This has the added benefit of improving system stability as a whole. Gaming PCs are highly variable, especially since there aren’t universal specs to adhere to. As such, you want to reduce the chances of surging temperatures due to faulty hardware drivers.

Depending on your system, you’ll likely have to seek out drivers for your chipset. This can usually be found on your motherboard manufacturer’s website. Just make sure to update to the latest version. BIOS updates can also be a good thing, but make sure you follow the process detailed by the manufacturer to the very letter.

This is a great way to maintain cooler temps since any bugs or issues with the firmware and drivers get ironed out. However, do be careful that you are following proper protocol when applying any drivers. You want to make sure your computer is connected to a stable power source.

The potential for power loss could very well result in you having a very expensive paperweight. So, tread carefully, but most users shouldn’t experience any major issues just keeping up with routine updates as a whole.

5 Cooling Hacks to Keep Your Gaming PC Ice-Cold Summary

RankHack
1Underclocking
2Adjust your fan settings
3Reapply thermal paste
4Clean your case
5Keep drivers up to date

Frequently Asked Questions

Can driver updates actually fix temps?

Yes, as some drivers can result in components running too hot.

Do you need to clean your case?

Yes. You should clean your case.

Can dust build up increase heat?

It certainly can, as it makes fans work harder to try and displace the heat.

Do you need to replace thermal paste?

Thermal paste is only effective for so long. You’ll want to replace it when it starts to lose its effectiveness.

Is MSI Afterburner a useful tool?

It is one of the most useful utilities you can use for your GPU.

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