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Ambient temperature effects on cooling

General, Hardware


The summer months are here. That means cooling solutions inside of your custom gaming PC are all the more important because ambient temperatures can influence what is happening inside the computer. Remember, if your custom PC is affected by ambient temperature at idle speed, it will feel the effect under load as well.

Air Cooling

Air-cooled systems can only idle at or above the temperature of the room in which they sit. This isn’t necessarily problematic assuming that most indoor temps aren’t going to reach higher than 35C. However, it is much easier for the system to reach a critical level of heat because it has less of a margin to increase under load.

Assuming your system sees temperatures of 55C or more during the heaviest of workloads, the additional 10 degrees from ambient temperatures will push the system closer to the red zone. This is especially true when the PC operating in a tight space.

Liquid cooling

Liquid cooling is much more effective at controlling temperatures in general, so they are excellent for combating elevated ambient temperatures. Indirectly, the ambient temps can affect the efficiency of liquid cooling because those systems rely on the surface area of tubes and radiators to dispel heat. If those components are also warmer, it will be harder for them to move heat. These effects aren’t often as significant at the CPU itself, because they are felt further down the line at the radiator.

General guidelines

Otherwise, the same rules to maintaining a cool custom PC are in place. Do be wary of airflow. Any obstructions can affect the system greatly. Pay attention to the speed of the case fans because they typically have variable settings. A fan set to a low RPM will not always be sufficient for the cooling needs of the case. If, for any reason, you find that your system is running hot, take time to visit diagnose and resolve whatever the issue might be before damage occurs.