Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It's a pet peeve of mine that people leave the tower of their desktop computers in the small enclosed cabinet part of computer desks.

I've heard that heat issues can cause problems with PCs, but is this realistic? Is leaving the desktop in a cabinet area, or above-average-room-temp, a realistic potential cause of slowdowns?

(I'm completely aware that there are other contributing factors to computer 'slowness', just wondering if this is a realistic problem, or mostly mental).

share|improve this question
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Most modern processors do reduce their clockspeed when they get warm to try and cool themselves. I think it all started off with laptops and having dynamic fans and powersaving etc, but as they all pretty much run off the same set of chips then they've all started doing it.

I used to have a fanless laptop that ran at 1.1ghz, unless it was warm and then it dropped down to about 300mhz until it cooled down!

share|improve this answer
1  
I've seen buttons on laptops that lock them to a lower speed for less power/heat, but not heard that desktop processors dynamically change. Do you have any links/references about which processors do that? Interesting. –  anonymous coward Jul 15 '09 at 19:42
1  
Actually, the processor speed is usually controlled by the operating system, with the exception of the chip stepping in and changing its speed or shutting down in emergency situations. Linux kernel docs which should answer most of your other questions are here: mjmwired.net/kernel/Documentation/cpu-freq/user-guide.txt –  marcusw Mar 22 '10 at 15:59
add comment

It can cause 'slowness' as described in mat1t's answer, but it will definitely significantly reduce the MTBF of most parts if they are continually overheated.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I use a program called DTemp to monitor my laptop's and desktop's hard drives' temp, and I definitely see a slow down when the drive reach about 102F or greater. I am sure different drives have different thresholds. If I blast an external fan at my laptop and bring the temp back down to under 100F, I have a zippy machine again.

Edit: The DTemp homepage appears to be gone and no one seems to have the download available. If anyone knows where to get it, please post in the comments.

share|improve this answer
    
Found in internet archive: web.archive.org/web/20080616154758rn_1/www.private.peterlink.ru/… (this includes the files available on the downloads page) –  marcusw Mar 22 '10 at 15:58
add comment

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends an operating temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68-77 Fahrenheit). The allowable range is 15 to 32 Celsius (59 to 90 Fahrenheit). 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) is commonly the maximum temperature that a vendor will guarantee performance and reliability for the warranty period. A higher operating temperature will reduce the lifetime of the equipment and probably void the warranty.

share|improve this answer
1  
What is the source for those numbers (specifically relating to warranty)? I'm curious because I've seen a lot of CPUs (AMD and Intel) that run hotter than 40 Celsius under load. –  Doug Jul 15 '09 at 19:57
    
I read it in a whitepaper recently. The CPU itself will definitely exceed this, but 40 Celsius refers to the temperature of the air. –  Scott Jul 15 '09 at 21:57
    
My processor reports 47 Celsius when idle and can get up to 80 or so when under load... (AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-65) –  marcusw Mar 22 '10 at 16:06
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.