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Fan and Thermals

The fans in a computer help circulate air to maintain an optimal temperature of the internal components. Your Dell computer can overheat if there is insufficient air flow due to dust or debris blocking the air vents, exhaust ports, or a clogged fan causing performance issues. See the suggested quick steps below if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms.

  • Fans inside the computer become louder as they start spinning faster to remove excess heat
  • The computer may intermittently shut down or restart.
  • System performance reduces unexpectedly.
  • The computer may stop responding, or performance may reduce while playing games.
  • Startup error message such as ‘Alert! Air Temperature Sensor Not Detected’ or another fan, heat sink, or air temperature-related error messages.

Follow these quick steps to help resolve your fan or thermal issue.

Fix 1: Optimize your Dell computer using the SupportAssist application.

This application ensures your computer has the latest Dell driver and BIOS updates and checks settings to keep your computer efficient and reliable.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key (Windows Button), and then press the Q key.
  2. Type SupportAssist in the search box.
  3. Select SupportAssist (App) in the list of results in Figure 1.
    NOTE: If SupportAssist does not show up in the search results, go to the SupportAssist for Home PCs page to download and install SupportAssist.
    SupportAssist Search Results
    Figure 1: SupportAssist Search Results

  4. Click Start Now to run the tests, Figure 2.
    NOTE: You can touch or click the down arrow and then run the individual test. Dell recommends running a full computer test.
    SupportAssist Main Screen
    Figure 2: SupportAssist Main Screen

  5. SupportAssist runs the tests one by one and provides the results and suggested actions.

Fix 2: Inspect and clean the air vents and fans.

Blocked air vents can cause serious performance issues by restricting airflow, this can cause the processor, system memory (RAM), and other hardware to overheat, which may lead to a potential hardware failure. Excessive heat can also cause a significant decrease in performance as most processors automatically reduce the speed of the processor to help compensate for heat-related problems. If you notice the computer fan running constantly and making an abnormal or loud noise, this might indicate that the computer is not running as efficiently as possible, and/or clogged air vents.

It is important to keep dust from accumulating in your computer and ensure adequate ventilation to help reduce heat. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder.

Your Dell computer may contain several fans to keep the internal components cool:

  • Desktop computers have more than one fan - processor (CPU), dedicated or discreet video card (GPU), power supply (PSU), and one or more chassis (case) fans.
  • Laptop computers may also have more than one fan and may vary between different models.

CAUTION: Turn off your computer and disconnect the power cable or AC adapter before using compressed air to clean your computer. Follow the instructions on the side of the compressed air can. Using compressed air incorrectly can damage your computer.

CAUTION: Do not try to blow the dust using your mouth. Moisture can cause irreparable damage to electronic and electrical components inside the computer.

WARNING: Desktop power supply units (PSU) are also equipped with a fan. Do not attempt to open the power supply to clean the fans. Ensure to turn off the computer and disconnect the power cables and use a compressed air can to clean any dust or debris.

To clean the air vents on your Dell computer, perform the following steps.

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Check the air vents on the computer for dust or debris. The air vents may be located in different places depending on the computer model. For more information, see the User Manual of your Dell computer.
  3. Use a can of compressed air to remove dust or debris from the air vents, dust filters (if any), and cooling fan fins.

    It is recommended to use a can of compressed air only. Do not use vacuum cleaners or blowers. Vacuum cleaners and blowers cause static and may damage electronic and electrical components inside your computer.

  4. To prevent overheating problems, keep the computer in an upright position and on a hard or sturdy surface, and provide enough clearance around the air vents.

Fix 3: Download and install the latest Windows Operating System updates.

Having the latest Operating System updates installed on your Windows computer keeps it efficient and reliable.

See Microsoft Knowledge Base Article Get the latest Windows update for information on how to get the latest Windows updates on your computer.

Fix 4: Use the Dell Power Manager to manage thermal performance.

You can use the Dell Power Manager (applicable for select Dell laptops) to control the processor and cooling fan settings to manage performance, computer surface temperature, and fan noise.

For more information, see Dell Knowledge Base article Guide to Dell Power Manager.

Fix 5: Run the SupportAssist diagnostics quick test on the computer.

The quick test finds the most common problems and tells you how to fix them. The diagnostics include tests on the Processor and Video fans.

To run the diagnostics, browse to the SupportAssist hardware quick test page (the test starts automatically).

If the test fails, contact Dell Technical Support.

If these quick steps did not resolve your issue, we have more detailed information in the Other Resources section. You can also search for content related to the issue using the search bar at the top of this page.

Video Resources

How to Optimize your System using SupportAssist

This video provides instructions on how to optimize your system using SupportAssist. To do so, open SupportAssist and click on "Run All" on the "Home" tab. Wait for the optimization to complete and restart your PC if prompted.
How to Clean Air Vents

This video provides instructions on how to clean air vents. It suggests turning off the computer, disconnecting external devices, using compressed air to blow out dust from the vents, and then reconnecting devices and restarting the computer.

Other Resources

How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues
How to Troubleshoot Overheating, Shutdown, or Thermal Issue on a Dell Computer
Learn how to troubleshoot and resolve overheating, thermal, intermittent shutdown, and other heat-related performance issues on a Dell computer.
How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues
How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues
Learn how to troubleshoot and resolve slow performance issues with your Dell computer.
How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues
Guide to Dell Power Manager
This article provides information about Dell Power Manager features, instructions on how to download and install the Dell Power Manager app. Find information about how to manage the laptop battery using Dell Power Manager.
How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues
How to Troubleshoot Fan Issues
Learn how to troubleshoot and resolve fan noise, overheating, and other fan-related issues on a Dell computer.