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Every PC gamer is aware of the term “thermal throttling”, especially those who live in hotter areas, or those who love to overclock their PCs.
There is nothing wrong with overclocking your computer, but the fact that thermal throttling can be a lot more dangerous than you think is something that cannot be avoided or ignored at all.
As a matter of fact, it is something that needs to be addressed at all costs, because if you don’t, then you are only going to get yourself in trouble, and potentially ruin your computer.
So, what is thermal throttling?
In order to understand this, you first need to understand that every component in our PC has a temperature threshold, and reaching above that threshold will trigger thermal throttling.
Once the thermal throttling comes into play, the component will start slowing down its performance in order to reach a temperature bracket in which the thermal throttling is eliminated.
If you are wondering whether or not thermal throttling is dangerous, it most certainly is, because your component is running at a temperature which is certainly not safe for it, and longer operation at a given temperature can decrease the lifespan of your component, and can potentially kill it as well.
In this article, we will be looking at thermal throttling in depth, as well as ways that can help us eliminate thermal throttling.
What is Thermal Throttling
Thermal throttling happens when your CPU/GPU takes a lot of load, gets hot, and reaches a point where the cooling solution that you have implemented, fails to dissipate the heat that is being generated, and when it fails, the thermal throttling kicks in.
You could say that thermal throttling is your system’s way of ensuring that your PC components do not get killed, or damaged because of all that heat.
Thermal throttling works the same for both GPU and CPU. Now, do note that if your GPU or CPU thermal throttles, you are going to see a drop in performance. This means that both the frequencies, as well as the raw performance (frame rates) are going to get dropped.
As far as how drastic the drop is going to be, that honestly depends on the hardware, and how severe the thermal throttling is. Because there are times when thermal throttling gets really, really severe.
We already know that slowdowns are because of the thermal throttling, but you do need to know that thermal throttling happens for the good. Why? Because without any thermal throttling process in the mix, there would be no way to stop the temperatures from rising, and there would be no control over the temperatures either.
This simply results in the lifespan of your graphics card or your CPU reduced drastically, which is never a good thing to happen.
How to Prevent Thermal Throttling
Now the main question is how you can prevent thermal throttling from happening in the first place. The answer to that is rather simple, however, there are multiple ways you can actually get rid of it.
Before we begin, I would suggest you that if your component, especially the video card is still under warranty, and you are facing temperature issues, then you should send it in for RMA because to address the throttling issue of the video card, you need to take it apart, and that will surely void the warranty as well.
As for the entire PC, below are some of the ways that you can get rid of, or at least prevent thermal throttling from happening. So, without any further ado, let’s have a look, shall we?
Install the Appropriate Cooling
The first thing that I normally suggest everyone to do whenever it comes to dealing with temperature is that they should install the appropriate cooling.
Now I know it might sound like a superficial thing but that is not the case. If your PC case has appropriate cooling, then you should never run into any issue like that.
As far as the cooling is concerned, you need to install fans that are made out of good quality and make sure that you have positive pressure maintained inside the case.
Positive pressure can be achieved by having equal intake and equal exhaust, or a higher number of intake and lower number of exhaust fans.
This way, more fresh air will enter the case.
Changing The Thermal Interface Material
This solution is most commonly used for the CPUs rather than the GPUs. If you think that your GPU or your CPU is running hot, then changing the thermal interface material (TIM) might be the right solution for you.
However, do keep in mind that if you try to do something like that on your GPU, you will void the warranty, whereas doing something like this on a processor does not do anything like that.
For the best thermal compounds, you can check out Thermal Grizzly, as well as Noctua.
However, if you want to be a bit too adventurous, and don’t mind losing the warranty on your CPU, you can always delid the CPU, and apply liquid metal, that will show you some drastic improvements as far as the thermals are concerned, and potentially get rid of the thermal throttling as well.
Invest in an AIO or a Good Tower Cooler
I know this might not make sense to many, but modern processors do need a good cooling solution. If you don’t believe what I am saying, just take the standard Intel Core i7 8700.
I am talking about a non-K variant, needing a 3rd party cooler to remain cool.
Why? Because the stock Intel fan is no longer enough to keep it cool under load. So, yes, that is another determinant in thermal throttling that you must know about. The good thing is that you do not need to spend a lot of money either.
If you want a tower cooler, you can spend $40 and you would be good to go, and you might even be able to dial in a minor overclock on the processor.
Buy a Good Case
Believe it or not, a good case can affect the temperature in more ways than you can imagine in the first place. Case in point, just look at the Cooler Master H500P, the case is notorious for one of the worst air flows from the front, and your goal here is to avoid any situation like that. (We have recently written a roundup review on Mid Tower Cases as well).
Unless you’re planning on an open loop, you should always go for a case that has good airflow.
While thermal throttling certainly warns you about your PC’s components getting hot, it also serves as a red flag that you need to fix your PC’s temperatures as soon as possible.
The above solutions, as well as the guide, will help you identify, and potentially fix the thermal throttling issue, and you will be able to enjoy your PC’s full potential without any issue whatsoever.
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