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How to Troubleshoot Overheating, Shutdown, or Thermal Issue on a Dell Computer

Summary: This article provides information about how to troubleshoot and resolve overheating, thermal, intermittent shutdown and other heat-related performance issues on a Dell computer. Computers can restart, shutdown, or have performance issues due to excessive heat. ...

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Article Content


Your Dell computer can overheat because of insufficient air flow due to dust or debris blocking the air vents, exhaust ports, or a clogged fan. An overheating computer can intermittently restart, shutdown, or experience performance issues. Eventually excessive heat can damage the internal components.

When the computer overheats, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • 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 reduces while playing games.
  • Startup error messages such as:
    • Alert! Air Temperature Sensor Not Detected.
    • Fan, heat sink, or air temperature-related error message.


The most common reason for an overheating computer is dust buildup on the fans or air vents. Reduce the heat inside the computer to improve the system performance and prevent any damage to the internal components.


Follow the troubleshooting steps mentioned below in the sequence to resolve overheating, thermal, or intermittent shutdown issues.

Dell Technologies recommends ensuring that the device drivers and BIOS are up to date. Use the SupportAssist application for optimal video performance and to help resolve common video-related issues.

To run the SupportAssist application, perform the following steps.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key (Windows Button), and then press the q key.
  2. In the search box type SupportAssist
  3. Select SupportAssist (App) in the list of results
    NOTE: When SupportAssist does not show up in the search results, go to the SupportAssist for PCs and tablets page for information about downloading and installing SupportAssist.
  4. Touch or click Start Now to run the tests.
    NOTE: You can touch or click the down arrow and then run the individual test. Dell Technologies recommends running a full computer test.
  5. SupportAssist runs the tests one by one and provides the results and suggested actions.

Optimize your System using SupportAssist.

Duration: 00:32
When available, closed caption (subtitles) language settings can be chosen using the Settings or CC icon on this video player.

To learn how to manually download and install a device driver such as the Chipset, see the Dell knowledge base article: How to Download and Install Dell Drivers

To learn how to download and update the BIOS on your Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base: Dell BIOS Updates

NOTE: Dell Technologies recommends restarting the computer after installing the driver updates.

Update your System Setup (BIOS).

Duration: 02:06
When available, closed caption (subtitles) language settings can be chosen using the Settings or CC icon on this video player.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

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

Blocked air vents can cause serious performance issues by restricting airflow. This can cause the processor, 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.

Your Dell computer may contain one or more fans to keep the internal components cool:

  • Dell desktops have more than one fan - on the processor (CPU), dedicated or discreet video card (GPU), power supply (PSU), and one or more chassis (case) fans. See the documentation of your Dell computer for more information.
  • Dell all-in-one desktops and laptops may have one or more fans and may vary between different models. See the documentation of your Dell computer for more information.
Cleaning the air vents on your Dell computer
  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Disconnect the power cable.
  3. Check the air vents on the computer for dust or debris.
    The air vents may be located in different places. See the documentation of your Dell computer.
NOTE: For XPS models, you may want to reference the Service Manuals for vent location.
  1. Use a can of compressed air to blow the dust or debris away from the computer.
    CAUTION: It is recommended to use a can of compressed air only. Do not use vacuum cleaners, blowers, or blow air from your mouth. Vacuum cleaners and blowers create static and may damage the electronic and electrical components inside the computer.
Follow these guidelines to provide adequate ventilation
  • Place the laptop in an upright position, on a flat, and hard or sturdy surface. You must never place the laptop on the bed, blanket, or any other soft surface while working.
    CAUTION: Using the laptop on a cloth surface, a bed, a couch cushion, or your lap, can restrict or completely block the airflow. Prolonged restriction of airflow can cause overheating and potential damage.
  • Place the desktop a few inches away from the wall to allow adequate ventilation.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

A simple reboot can resolve many issues almost immediately. Restarting the computer is an effective way to clear the system memory (RAM). It ensures that any errant processes and services that have started are shut down.

Restarting the computer closes all the applications and software that is running on the computer. This includes applications running on the taskbar and services that are running in the background.

WARNING: Before restarting the computer, ensure to bookmark open web pages, save open documents, spreadsheets, or other unsaved work.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Windows updates can support your Windows operating system in many ways. Windows updates can solve specific problems, provide protection from malicious attacks, or even add new features to the operating system.

How to run Windows Updates on Microsoft Windows 11, Windows 10, or Windows 8.1 or 8?
  1. Right-click Start and click Settings.
  2. In the Settings panel, click Update & Security.
  3. In the left panel, select Windows Update.
  4. In the right panel, click Check for updates.
  5. Restart the computer after downloading and installing the updates.
How to run Windows Updates on Microsoft Windows 7?
  1. Open Control Panel, and then click System and Security.
  2. Click Windows Updates.
  3. In the left panel, click Check for updates.
  4. Restart the computer after downloading and installing the updates.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware-related problems and provide you with troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. To determine if your Dell computer is experiencing a hardware problem, it is recommended that you first run a hardware diagnostic test on the computer. Dell offers both onboard and online diagnostics. SupportAssist or ePSA hardware diagnostic test helps check if the hardware devices are working correctly.

  1. Restart the computer.
  2. At the Dell logo, press the F12 key several times to enter the One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics and press Enter.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions, and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
  5. If the hardware tests pass, go to the next step.
  6. If the hardware tests fail, make a note of the error code, and validation code and contact Dell Technical Support.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Dell Power Manager allows you to manage your computer’s processor and cooling fan settings. You can manage performance, computer surface temperature, and fan noise.

To learn more about Dell Power Manager features, download, and install instructions, see the Dell knowledge base article Guide to Dell Power Manager.

Dell Optimizer and Dell Precision Optimizer applications intelligently optimizes the performance on supported Latitude and Precision laptops using artificial intelligence and machine learning. It allows you to manage the laptops processor and cooling fan settings to optimize the surface temperature and fan noise.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Follow these tips to improve computer efficiency:

  • Change which applications run when Windows starts by using the Startup tab in Task Manager.
  • Close applications when you are not using them.
  • Close the Internet browser when you are not using it.
  • Lower the screen resolution and decrease the graphics settings if the computer becomes warmer than usual while playing games.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

System Restore is an integrated Windows tool that is designed to protect and repair the operating system. When something goes wrong with your computer, System Restore should be used before restoring the computer to factory defaults.

Learn How to Use System Restore in Microsoft Windows.

If the issue persists, go to the next step.

Dell computers are built with a small amount of hard disk space that is reserved for reinstalling the operating system. This method is the easiest way to restore your Dell computer to factory condition. The restoration process deletes all user data from the computer, so be sure to back up all your files before starting this process.

Learn how to Factory Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Microsoft Windows on a Dell computer.

If the issue persists, contact Dell Technical Support.

Additional Information

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Article Properties

Affected Product
Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Legacy Desktop Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Legacy Laptop Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations, Dell Optimizer , Dell Precision Optimizer ...
Last Published Date

20 Jul 2023



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