Clear The Fan & Heatsink Of Dust
Dust is a GPU’s worst enemy as it creates a film on the surface that prevents heat from dissipating naturally. Over time, dust will inevitably build up, and there’s not much you can do about this other than periodic cleaning sessions. Doing so is hands down the single most effective technique to lower GPU temperatures.
Arm yourself with a can of compressed air and go to town on the GPU, especially the fans and heatsink, paying heed not to blow too close to the small components darted across the circuit board. We recommend removing the GPU from the PC first, then disconnecting the fan/heatsink. Do the cleaning outside to avoid contaminating the air inside of the PC room with dust particles that will invariably find their way back into the machine at some point.
Due to the design of the metal indents making up the majority of heatsinks, clearing them of caked on dust build up is an arduous task that even a few dozen intense burst of compressed air won’t clear away entirely.
We, therefore, recommend the following technique:
- Remove your GPU from its PCI-E slot.
- Disassemble the fan and heatsink.
- Take the heatsink and bathe it in a solution made up of water, a good dash of vinegar and lemon juice.
- Let it sit for an hour or two.
- Remove the heatsink from the liquid and tab it with a dry towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Let it air dry until it is bone dry. If in doubt, let it sit for a least 24 hours.
- Fit the heatsink back onto the GPU along with the fan and connect it back to the motherboard.
Improve Air Flow In The PC Case
A GPU is liable to doing its utmost to remain cool, pushing the fans to limit, but failing miserably because the air in the case itself is too hot due to restricted air flow.
Remedies to this include mounting additional case fans, ideally in proximity to the GPU such as on the top of the case. Often, first-timer DIY builds suffer from misoriented fans. Ensure groups of fans either draw in cold air or eject hot air to create a defined flow path.
Additionally, good cable management is a powerful way to allow air to flow unrestricted.
Tweak Fan Speeds
With GPU overclocking software such as MSI Afterburner, you use input fan control utilities to adjust the fan speed. For example, you can set it to up the fan speed when the GPU core reaches a certain temperature. By doing so, you can ensure the fan is running at 100% of its capabilities during critical moments, therefore significantly reducing the GPU temperature.
Revert To Non-Overclocked Settings
Overclocking is the most sure-fire way to raise GPU temperatures. If high temperatures have come about after tinkering with clock speeds and voltages then reverting to the pre-overclocking parameters should reduce temperatures to within acceptable limits.
Another software-side trick to lower GPU temperatures is to make sure your GPU drivers are up to date. The reason being is that GPU manufacturers are continually fine-tuning the firmware processes and algorithms that dictate how the card behaves. These improvements often equate to more efficient, less power hungry performance thus creating heat generation. The changes may be minor, but in conjunction with the other steps in our guide can add up to quite the difference.
Lower In-Game Graphical Settings
If all else fails, give your GPU a break and lower the graphical settings of the games you play. Often, reducing texture levels from ultra down to medium or stepping the anti-aliasing settings down a notch can significantly lessen the burden on the device, and lower temperatures.
Replace The Thermal Paste
Over time, thermal paste naturally degrades as high temperatures burn it away and there comes a time when a new lick of a high-grade compound is precisely what the doctor ordered.
The process isn’t for the uninitiated though. It’s advisable to entrust this task to a certified technician down at the local PC hardware store or to call in the help of an experienced buddy if you haven’t an inkling of how to go about it yourself.
Replace Heatsink/Fan Setup & Consider Investing In Water Cooling
Should all the else fail, it may be time to spend a little cash to iron out the issue. Stock heatsink/fan units aren’t necessarily the best and investing in a purpose-designed aftermarket alternative from a reputable manufacturer such as Cooler Master, NZXT, and Corsair will pay dividends immediately.
Alternatively, going all out for a water cooling system and GPU water block will sound the death knell for unwieldy GPU temperatures. The method is the single most effective cooling system around, but it does come at a cost.
The UK-based journalist and gamer, Thomas, describes himself as a man of few words with an unhealthy obsession for everything wonderful about the world of gaming. Thanks to his experience in the gaming industry, he brings a wealth of talent into GamingScan.