Cooling Systems

Cooling Systems

A computer is an electronic device that runs on electricity. As electric current is passed through different components of the computer, heat is generated. The amount of energy generated depends on the speed on which components work. The heat generated increases the temperature, which in turn can cause harm or damage to computer components. The thermal output of processor is a significant problem. However, all CPUs require cooling, system. Various elements that cool down the heat generated around or inside the processor are discussed below.

 Heat Sink

Heat Sink is an electronic device that disperses heat from other components of the processor circuit and cools it. This improves performance and reliability so that premature components failure can be avoided.

A heat sink is made of copper or aluminium metal. It has fins that exposes a larger surface area to the air, which produces a cooling effect. The heat sink is pasted to the surface of the chip using grease called thermal paste or thermal compound, for best mode of heat transfer. Heat sinks are of two types; active and passive.

Active Heat Sinks: These heat sinks require extra cooling energy to work or operate. It makes use of a fan or other cooling device.

Passive Heat Sinks: These heat sinks have no extra mechanical component to function. It is 100 percent reliable.


There are several computer components that produce heat which cannot be handled by passive cooling. In such scenarios, active cooling comes into play. A fan is the cooling device that improves air flow and helps in dissipating heat. Fans are used for power supply and designed for drawing cool air from vents in CPU case. This case is present over the motherboard and these fans draw out warm air back from the CPU case. As fan requires electricity to operate it is an active cooling device.


Thermal Paste

Thermal Paste is a grey or white paste at the bottom of the heat sink. It is also called thermal compound or thermal grease. This paste consists of poiymerisable liquid and large amount of electrically insulating, and thermally conductive filling. It is applied on the CPU to improve heat dissipation and to lower temperature. The contact surfaces between the CPU and heat sink are not smooth. The thermal paste smoothens such surfaces. As air is one of the worst thermal conductors, it hinders the heat sink’s capability to lower the CPU temperature. It fills up the air gaps between contact surfaces in order to allow better heat removal.

Liquid-based Cooling System

Fans facilitate heat dissipation and keep electronic components cool. Computers incorporating high-end hardware and over-clocked components need enhanced cooling systems as fans may not have sufficient power for heat dissipation. Liquid-based cooling systems are used for handling such good amount of heat. Water acts as a more effective coolant. Liquid-based cooling system cools down the computer temperature by pumping water around the CPU case or chassis. These systems also minimize noise generated by higher processor speeds. However, these are more expensive than traditional air-cooling systems.


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