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How-To Take Apart and Clean Your PC in Under 30 Minutes

Maybe it’s because electronics are so seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, but only a few people really give their PCs a second thought when it comes to maintenance. Many have never seen the inside of their desktop, or the last time they cracked open the case was to install new components.

Now, you probably know that dust can affect your PC’s performance, clogging fans and insulating your components, making them nice and toasty (some components can heat up by 30+ degrees past normal operating temps when insulated by dust!). With proper maintenance, your whole rig could be running nice and cool if you clean it out at least annually, if not more frequently. Here’s a guide on how to banish the dust-bunnies from your desktop tower in less than half an hour and get back to building your highly accurate Minas Tirith replica in Minecraft:

1.  Shut Down and Unplug PC:

You never want to risk frying one of your components, so the first thing you should do when working on any gaming PC is unplug everything from the power cord to the webcam. Disconnect everything and set your peripherals aside. This also might be a good time to disentangle your web of cords and get them organized with zip-ties.

2.  Remove Static Charges:

Even though you’re not removing any components, you could still accidentally touch something and zap it with the static discharge from your body. Move the tower to a non-carpeted area, take off your socks or rubber-soled shoes, and touch the bare metal side of your computer case or some other grounded object to discharge any static charge in your body.

3.  Open the Case:

Most PC cases are just latched on or have panels locked with thumbscrews, and it is usually easy to pop the case open without any tools. You may need a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove screws holding the panel in place, though. Remove the side panel and place the tower on its side. If you have a case with more than one removable panel, take those off as well, it will make it easier to blow out all of the dust.

4.  Start Blowing Out Dust:

Before we go any further, I just want to say that you should never, ever, use a vacuum out a PC case, even if you have plastic attachments. It has an electrical motor and generates static just by running, having that inside and potentially passing static charges is not a good idea. Keep it away from your computer!

Instead, we’re going to use a static-free can of compressed air to blow dust out of every nook and cranny in your gaming machine’s shiny innards. Keep the nozzle a few inches away from any surface you spray, paying special attention to your vents, case fans and heat-sink fins. Make sure you do not hold the can upside down or at a steep angle when spraying; it will cause it to spray fluid all over your hardware!

5. Put it All Back Together:

Now that all of your fans, graphics card(s), radiators, heat-sinks, and motherboard are dust-free, clean off the inside of your desktop case panels as well. Then you can dust around your gaming station and reconnect all of your peripherals. Last of all, connect your power cord and boot it up.

That’s pretty much it. Repeat the process every month or couple of months, depending on how dusty your gaming space is. Maintaining a dust-free gaming system  helps your components perform well, makes them last longer and saves them from a hot, dusty death.

6. Reducing Dust in Your PC Case:

The best thing of course, is to stop dust before it ever has a chance to settle on your components. But since a 100-percent dust-free clean room isn’t a likelihood for most of us, we’ll have to make do with measures that merely mitigate dust collection:

Install filters on your intake vents. This kind of feature isn’t standard on a lot of PCs because the fact is that dust filters restrict air-flow (essential for air-cooled systems) and you’ll have to change the filters periodically to ensure that your

PC keeps cooling properly. But if you do decide that dust is a problem for you, and that you’ll faithfully swap out the filters, they can be a good option.

Move your PC tower off the floor! Dust settles you guys, and that means that the most dust, dirt and debris in your home is at floor level. Save your PC from it by moving the tower off the floor and onto your desktop or a shelf.

Keep your space clean. Dust comes from everything from our clothes to the air that blows in through your home’s HVAC system. There’s not much you can do except remove that dust through regular cleaning. Vacuum regularly, dust flat surfaces and put away clutter that can accumulate dust over time.

None of these is a cure-all for heat-trapping dust, but you can protect your PC in the long-run just by cleaning regularly, both inside and outside the case.

Have any of you ever fried a component because you didn’t clean out the case? Is anyone using homemade filters? Let us know by commenting below!

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