A quiet computer is a joy forever
August 26, 2007 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Shut my computer up...what's the best way to stop making my computer's fans work so hard.

About five months ago my computer started overheating. A nice technician opened it up and cleaned out all the dust. The result was amazing. The computer hardly had to use its fans anymore...it was cool and quiet.

Now I think more dust has accumulated and while it's not overheating, I loved not having my fans blowing all the time. I tried blowing compressed air, but I have a feeling that just moves it around.

What's the best way to get rid of dust without damaging the fans? Are there are precautions I should take if I end up opening up the fan area?
posted by melissam to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best way to limit the accumulation of dust is to filter it from the air in the first place. I assume you have some sort of forced-air system in your home? What do the filters look like?
Dirty? Better replace them.

Once you get clean filters installed, you might want to simply keep the forced-air system running, in order to constantly filter the air.

In addition to constant air-flow, you should look at what temperatures you are keeping in whatever room the computer is located. Computers love cool environments. Crank-up the AC.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:32 AM on August 26, 2007

There's not really all that much you can damage with fans. It's just a little motor and some blades. Compressed air does help a bit.

Are you talking about the power supply, though? What you'd need to do with that is:
- touch some non-computer metal (like a doorknob) first, so you discharge any static electricity on you – don't obsess about this, just get into the habit of touching things before messing with computer internals, it's like scrubbing in on a surgery
- disconnect the power supply from everything, remove it, and take it outside. it will be dustier than you could possibly imagine, most of the time.
- open it up, spray compressed air on every damn thing, get a little brush if you can and brush off some of the components. make sure it looks nice and then put it all back together.

If you didn't mean the power supply, then, ... hey, extra info. The fans built into the case bodies of tower cases, or that are attached to processor heat sinks, are pretty small, self-contained things, so there isn't too much to them.

As far as dust and such throughout the case interior, you can basically give it the same treatment as above.

Thorzdad is right, though, preventing this in the first place is best, though a lot more difficult.
posted by blacklite at 10:53 AM on August 26, 2007

Mainframe fans have always had filters. Are there filters made for PCs?
posted by MtDewd at 11:49 AM on August 26, 2007

To clarify, it's a laptop, and I live in a graduate hall, so dust isn't really controllable. I suppose what I am talking about is the power supply...?
posted by melissam at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2007

Can you specify what kind of laptop?
There are some laptops that can have their fan volume reduced simply by applying a software patch.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2007

It's a Toshiba Satellite m45, I don't want to overheat it though. Fans running =better than overheating.
posted by melissam at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2007

Sometimes when I'm using my laptop on my actual lap I find myself blocking one of the air vents with my leg, and the machine's fans will speed up trying to get enough airflow despite the blockage.
posted by hattifattener at 1:19 PM on August 26, 2007

I used to have a Toshiba laptop at work that was also very loud for no good reason that I could discern. Putting something between it and the desk so the air could better circulate through the bottom fan/vent helped a bit.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:30 PM on August 26, 2007

You could try something like a cooldock laptop stand with built in fans. If you get one with larger fans it actually makes less noise. The smaller fans in a laptop have to run at a higher rotations per minute to get enough airflow, and are very noisy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2007

Raise it up of the table some. I found a couple caps from soda bottles under the back two itty-bitty raisers works wonders.

Make sure the area around it is open and well ventilated,
posted by Mick at 2:08 PM on August 26, 2007

I found this NotebookReview guide to cooling one's laptop pretty useful. Essentially, if the compressed air doesn't work, get a cooling pad.
posted by schweik at 8:57 PM on August 26, 2007

Ooh, yes being a laptop is a very important detail. :) A little can of air should be all you need to blow the dust out. Just don't shake it and don't turn it upside down. (The cryogenic liquid released when you invert the can is fun to play with, but damaging to plastic.) Also, avoid blasting the optical drive.

It's also possible that you have some software that's keeping your CPU busy, which uses more power, which is turned into heat.

Hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and flip to the Processes tab. Click the CPU column (twice?) so the CPU hogs are sorted to the top of the list. Ideally, with the machine just sitting there, System Idle Process should have 90 percent of the CPU, or more. If some other apps are eating a bunch of processor time, that might be the cause.
posted by Myself at 1:14 AM on August 27, 2007

Get a cooling pad, definitely. I had a Gateway (never again) that kept overheating so much that internal components were melting. After 2 trips to Gateway's repair labs, I bought a cooling pad and never had another problem.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:41 AM on August 27, 2007

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