Keepin' it cool

by George Lovell | | 0 comments

This is a "heat sink" on a Microsoft Surface Pro. Laptops, games consoles, and high-spec tablets all have one of these.

A heat sink is an object that disperses heat from another object. The goal here is to transfer thermal energy from a processor (CPU and/or GPU), to a lower temperature medium - usually air, but you could use water.

This heat sink is made out of copper. Aluminium alloys are also very common.

The CPU in your computer gets so hot, so quickly, that without cooling, it would likely reach temperatures of 100°C; frying itself within seconds.

By connecting to a heat sink, we increase the surface area for the heat to spread, keeping temperatures below 75°C. A larger surface area will increase the cooling ability.

The heat sink is connected to a fan, which spins to move air across the heat sink in order to keep it cool. This is what you can hear spinning as your device works harder and gets hotter.

We want the heat sink to make direct contact with the CPU, so we apply thermal paste to fill in tiny air gaps, which makes for better heat transfer. This paste is typically comprised of metal oxide and silicone, which results in a delicious grey oily grease.

There's two common issues that will cause your device to overheat and underperform:

> A blocked fan. Computers fill up with dust over time, which mostly aggregates around the fan and impedes airflow. We take great pleasure in cleaning off all the dust inside a computer with an air blower. This has to be done carefully to avoid damaging the fan.

> Degraded thermal paste. The material breaks down and becomes less efficient over time - typically after 5 years. More commonly, people disturb the paste by removing the heat sink to complete other repairs, but do not then apply fresh paste. We enjoy thoroughly cleaning off all the old gunk, and applying shiny new paste to the CPU; like fresh butter on hot toast.

Computer & Laptop Repairs & Services

We repair computers and laptops in Portishead, Clevedon, Avonmouth, Nailsea, Backwell, Yatton, Bristol, Pill, Portbury and beyond.

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