Cpu cooling is the process of removing excess heat from computer components, including the [[central processing unit|CPU]], to keep them at safe operating temperatures. The CPU and other components generate excessive heat through normal operation, which may damage them or reduce their maximum lifespans. [[Heat sink]]s are used to increase surface area for dissipating heat, and [[fan|mechanical fan]]s help speed the exchange of hot components with cooler ambient air. [[Peltier effect|heatpumps]] and other exotic cooling methods can be used for extreme overclocking.
A CPU consists of a package and an integrated heat spreader (IHS), both of which produce and dissipate heat. The IHS is a flat metal plate the size of the CPU, with a thin layer of thermal compound applied between it and the package. The IHS and the heatsink are connected by a pipe that carries cooled liquid. The liquid evaporates at one end of the pipe, absorbing and dissipating the latent heat, and condenses at the other end to form steam. The vapor then flows to the heat sink, where it cools the CPU.
Other computer parts produce significant amounts of heat, including the motherboard, [video card|video processor], and [[hard disk drive]]. These components also benefit from improved cooling. Cooling methods can be divided into integral and peripheral, with the latter being mainly used for those who wish to achieve higher CPU or GPU performance than the manufacturer’s specifications allow (overclocking), as well as to reduce noise pollution caused by conventional cooling fans. Peripheral cooling is usually achieved through heat sinks and fans, as well as through specialized thermal compounds that claim to be more efficient than stock thermal pads.