Why Do Computers Freeze When They Get Hot?

How Computers Protect Themselves

How computers and other electronics respect their thermal limits.

Episode #13-28 released on July 12, 2023

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Computers are complex devices that require a very specific adherence to a set thermal range. If the computer is too cold, it will not turn on, if it is too hot, it will turn off. As you approach the upper thermal limit, your computer slows down, essentially freezing.

The heat is generated just as a process of how the electronics work. Your processors, graphics cards, SSDs, and every other electronic is immensely inefficient, and much of the electricity not used is converted into heat, whether intentionally or not.

The heat generated, especially by modern computers and electronics, needs to be removed from the system to maintain a safe operating temperature. The use of heat sinks, fans and liquid cooling is currently the norm for bringing the computer or electronics to a safe operating temperature.

The first part, the loss of performance in a computer or electronic comes from thermal throttling. Modern devices are equipped with thermal probes, and they constantly verify their temperature to be within the safe zone. If the computer or electronic device gets too hot, it drops the voltage resulting in fewer instructions being processed resulting in a performance reduction that we feel as lag in processing.

The other part of the whole overheating issue is what happens if the system is too hot. As mentioned, computers and electronics have thermal probes. These probes talk with controllers that have specific instructions that relate to fan curves, control over voltages, etc. In the event of thermal runaway, where no amount of fan speed or voltage reduction works, the device or computer will shut down automatically.

The best way to prevent or mitigate issues with heat, thermal throttling, lagging, or emergency shutdown is to make sure that sufficient air flow is available, that all the fans are plugged in and work, to ensure that all processors are properly setup with thermal paste connecting them to their heat sinks, to make sure the heat sinks are clean and devoid of dirt, and to maintain proper fan curves for your system.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Dot Net

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