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

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.

Article Content


Symptoms

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 exhibit slow performance issue and can eventually cause damage to the internal components.

When the computer overheats, you might experience symptoms like:

  • Fans inside the computer become louder as they start spinning faster to remove excess heat.
  • The computer may intermittently shutdown 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.
Cause

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.

Resolution

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 User Guide of the 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 User Guide of the 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 User Guide of your Dell computer.
  4. 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, proceed 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) and ensure that any errant processes and services that have started are shut down.

Restarting the computer closes all the applications and software that are 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, proceed to the next step.

Dell recommends updating the device drivers and BIOS as part of your scheduled update cycle. These device drivers and BIOS updates may contain feature enhancements or changes that help keep your system software current and compatible with other system modules (hardware and software) as well as increased stability.

The BIOS firmware is embedded in the system board (motherboard) of a computer. The thermal table in the BIOS helps regulate the temperature of the processor (CPU), system memory (RAM), chipsets, hard drives, and other devices by controlling the fan speed. A BIOS update may contain an updated thermal table to improve the thermal management in the computer.

It is essential to update the following device drivers for optimal thermal management and to resolve common overheating issues.

  • BIOS
  • Chipset

To learn more about downloading and installing the latest BIOS on a Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base article Dell BIOS Updates.

To learn more about downloading and installing the chipset driver on a Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base article Drivers and Downloads FAQs.

If the issue persists, proceed 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 10, 8.1, or 8?
  1. Right-click Start and click Settings.
  2. In the Settings panel, click Update and 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, proceed 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 built-in and online diagnostics. Dell ePSA or SupportAssist hardware diagnostic test helps check if the hardware devices are working correctly.

  1. Restart the computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, press the F12 key several times to enter the One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys and select Diagnostics and press the Enter key.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions, and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
  5. If the hardware tests pass, proceed 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, proceed to the next step.

Dell Power Manager allows you to manage your system’s processor and cooling fan settings so that you can manage performance, system 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.

If the issue persists, proceed 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, proceed to the next step.

System Restore is a built-in 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.

Select the Operating System installed on your computer to find more information about how to perform System Restore:

If the issue persists, proceed 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.

Select the Operating System installed on your Dell computer to find more information about how to restore your Dell computer to factory defaults:

If the issue persists, contact Dell Technical Support.

Additional Information

SLN151668_en_US__4image(13480) Out of warranty? No problem. Click here and enter your product Service Tag and view our offers.

Currently, offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, and France PC Customers. Server and Storage not applicable.

Article Properties


Affected Product

Alienware 15 R4, Alienware 17 R5, Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition R3 and R6, Alienware Area-51 R4 and R5, Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations, Dell SE2719H, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16 Alienware 15 R4, Alienware 17 R5, Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition R3 and R6, Alienware Area-51 R4 and R5, Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations, Dell SE2719H, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16, Dell G3 3579, Dell G5 15 5587, Dell G3 3779, Inspiron 3452, Inspiron 15 7572, Inspiron 7580, Inspiron 3052, Inspiron 20 3064, Inspiron 3264 AIO, Inspiron 3265, Inspiron 3452 AIO, Inspiron 3455, Inspiron 24 3464, Inspiron 24 5488, Inspiron 27 7775, Inspiron 3252, Inspiron 3655, Latitude 5290 2-in-1, Latitude 7290, Latitude 3390 2-in-1, Latitude 7390 2-in-1, Latitude 7390, Latitude 3490, Latitude 5490, Latitude 5491, Latitude 7490, Latitude 3590, Latitude 5590, Latitude 5591, OptiPlex 3050 All In One, OptiPlex 3050, OptiPlex 3060, OptiPlex 5050, OptiPlex 5060, OptiPlex 5250 All In One, OptiPlex 7050, OptiPlex 7060, OptiPlex 7450 All In One, OptiPlex 7460 All In One, OptiPlex 7760 All In One, Vostro 5370, Vostro 14 3468, Vostro 5471, Vostro 15 3568, Vostro 3578, Vostro 15 5568, Vostro 3470, Vostro 3670, XPS 27 7760, XPS 8920 See more

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021

Version

7

Article Type

Solution

Rate This Article


Accurate
Useful
Easy to Understand
Was this article helpful?

0/3000 characters