Keeping your computer at its optimal operating temperature is vital to keep the delicate circuits from getting overheated. For this purpose, a computer has its own inbuilt cooling system like the heat sink, which is a passive cooling component fixed on top of the processor for dissipating heat away and keeping it under optimal working temperatures. Made of specialized heat conducting metal, the heat sink contains an array of metal fins spread over a large surface area that draws the heat away from the processor.
A cooling fan atop the heat sink further dissipates the heat collected in the heat sink. Their continual functioning can result in the accumulation of dust between the fins and cause a drop in cooling performance. Normally, the heat sink would be unable to effectively dissipate heat if it is clogged with dust and debris. This will result in the processor temperature to increase resulting in overheating and damage. A clogged heat sink and the overheating resulting from it will cause your computer to exhibit several symptoms, which are described below.
If you hear a loud and wheezing noise from the CPU cabinet while using your computer, it indicates that your processor fan is overworking. This is usually caused if the heat sink becomes clogged preventing it from drawing out the heat from the processor effectively. To compensate the excess heat produced by the malfunctioning heat sink, the processor fan will run at higher speeds to keep it under normal operating temperature. It is best to rely on a computer tech support if you notice a noisy fan, as the continued operation can result in processor damage.
If your computer is experiencing frequent errors or unexpected shutdowns, it may be likely due to overheating issues. Most motherboards have sensors that detect such rising temperatures and automatically shut down the computer to prevent further damage. If your computer is becoming error-prone and unstable along with a noisy fan operation, you can surely infer the cause due to a dust clogged heat sink. A simple dusting of the heat sink can resolve the issue but you need to rely on a qualified technician to reapply the thermal compound between the heat sink and the processor.
Your computer has an auto-shutdown mechanism if it detects that the internal temperatures are too high. You may experience frequent unexpected shutdowns with a message stating overheating issues if the heat sink gets clogged. The CPU cabinet will also get hotter in case of a failing heat sink making it difficult to touch. You can run several temperature utilities to monitoring the CPU temperature and determine whether the heat sink is really causing the issue.