Question about computers and heat

My home computer is a “refurbished” (i.e., probably a few years old) Fujitsu Lifebook laptop. It’s not very powerful, but I’m not computing any astrophysics, so it’s all I need and then some.

The conflict: I like my apartment hot. I mean HOT. In the summertime, I never used to use air conditioning at all, but I noticed after a while that no one wanted to come visit, so I got air conditioning, but I still don’t normally use it until it gets to 90 F or so inside. (If company’s coming I’ll turn it on, of course.)

I notice when it gets warm in here (current indoor temp is 82 with windows open) that the interior fan on the computer will start up and run for a while and then stop. Sometimes it’ll run for several minutes and then stop; predictably, this happens more often when I’m using it, as my hands are sitting on it and presumably heating it up even more.

The question: Am I damaging the computer by letting it get overheated this way? Should I do something like point a fan at it? Should I just ignore it? Is it going to one day give a sullen I can’t do that, Dave when I want to play FreeCell, and make me wish I’d backed things up more often?

Or is there nothing to worry about, and the fan is just doing its job, and I should go back to my pleasant, sweaty, carefree existence?

Short version: How much heat will “damage” a computer, and in what way?

(Sheesh. For a guy who makes his living working on a Web site, I am pathetically techno-illiterate.)

82F is well within a computer’s operating range. A laptop is designed for some extreme operating temperatures. The only downside to the fan operation would be decreased battery life, but if your laptop is plugged into the wall this is not a problem.

Unless you start getting lock-ups that go away when you point a fan at the thing, I’d say you’re fine.

IAN a computer engineer , so this is just educated guesswork!!

If the fan stops running, I’d say you’re fine. I’d be worried if the fan was running solid-on and still not cooling it enough, but since its shutting off, that indicates its reaching an acceptable temperature. You might want to prop it up off of whatever surface you run it on, though, to allow better airflow.

Assuming all the components in your laptop are working fine, you should be okay – but that’s a big assumption. Most of my computers run fine at any temperature, but my main Windows desktop has recently started locking up hard if the temperature rises much above 80 degrees. I have to keep the cover off and have a 13" fan blowing on the motherboard at high speed at all times to keep it running reliably. Ironically, the CPU temperature and motherboard temperature show perfectly acceptable temperatures, so I assume some component on the motherboard is extremely heat-finicky. I’m not sure if whatever has happened is a RESULT of my computer having been constantly at about 80 degrees before, but I plan to keep my house significantly cooler from now on. I think your laptop will be fine, but if you ever do start to experience any hardware failures, I’d be interested to hear about it.

Thanks, all. I suppose it’s mainly my own paranoia at work.

It seems to be running fine for now, but then it’s still early in the summer; we shall see. In the meantime, I suppose I shouldn’t go borrowing trouble.

Heat is one of the big killers of electronics. Laptops especially will often trade off heat for size. They run a little hot just so they can be smaller, and you pay the price in the form of long term reliability. I’d recommend getting a little portable fan that you can stick on the table next to it when it is hot.

Also, make sure that you always have the laptop on a hard, flat surface like a table or desk. Laptops will often overheat if left on a placemat or on your lap.

And since it is a laptop, do make sure you backup your data often.

FWIW, your hand temp would have less effect on the CPU than the humidity given of by your breath or ambient dew point. Unless you made non-factory approved adjustments to the laptop, the fan is desingned to kick in when it needs cooling, and to turn off when it’s in a “safe” range.

But definately give the bottom part of it room to breath.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t buy vinyl furniture!

chorpler I am happy to see that I am not alone! I’ve got to keep the cover off my PC and keep a fan pointed at the hard drives or the thing will crash. Oh well, at least it works. :slight_smile: