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Cold weather bad for computers?


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22-Feb-2008, 09:19 PM #1
Cold weather bad for computers?
My son's girlfriend just asked if leaving her laptop in her cal all day here in New England where the high was about 25 would make it slow to start. I thought that was probably the case but I thought I'd check with the experts to be sure.
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22-Feb-2008, 11:23 PM #2
No, it wouldn't have any negative effect. All of the overclocking and benchmarking records were made using LN2 to cool components. New England temperature is quite tame compared to that.
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22-Feb-2008, 11:30 PM #3
Nope. The colder, the better.

Unless, of course, it is so cold that moisture in the air freezes onto the components and melts later on, causing it to short-circuit. But I highly doubt that happened.
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23-Feb-2008, 12:15 AM #4
You have to be caredul with LCD screens because they can be destroyed by low temps, but 25 is in the safe range. I wouldn't go -20, though. One problem with cold machines is that opening them up in a warm, humid environment when they are very cold can cause water to condense on the cold components including the interior of the machine, leading to problems. If it is to be brought into a heated, moist place, leave it in the case and sealed until it warms up a bit. Or turn it on right away so it produces its own heat and warms faster.

Electronics will be faster when cold, but drives and mechanical parts may be a bit sluggish.
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23-Feb-2008, 12:36 AM #5
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Originally Posted by Elvandil View Post
You have to be caredul with LCD screens because they can be destroyed by low temps, but 25 is in the safe range. I wouldn't go -20, though. One problem with cold machines is that opening them up in a warm, humid environment when they are very cold can cause water to condense on the cold components including the interior of the machine, leading to problems. If it is to be brought into a heated, moist place, leave it in the case and sealed until it warms up a bit. Or turn it on right away so it produces its own heat and warms faster.

Electronics will be faster when cold, but drives and mechanical parts may be a bit sluggish.
I don't think it's 25 degrees Fahrenheit inside where the computer is, Elvandil.
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23-Feb-2008, 12:49 AM #6
As Elvandil stated, condensation is the number one killer in these situations but the wear and tear of the more extreme temperature range is much greater as well. The increased expansion and contraction will have a greater deleterious effect over time...but probably not to the extent that it will be a major factor in the normal expected life of a laptop; unlike what it does to roads in just a couple of years here in the upper Midwest.
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23-Feb-2008, 12:57 AM #7
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As Elvandil stated, condensation is the number one killer in these situations but the wear and tear of the more extreme temperature range is much greater as well. The increased expansion and contraction will have a greater deleterious effect over time...but probably not to the extent that it will be a major factor in the normal expected life of a laptop; unlike what it does to roads in just a couple of years here in the upper Midwest.
What inside a laptop will expand and contract to any degree?
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23-Feb-2008, 01:29 AM #8
It may be more proper to say stress on the points that are held rigid and near the places of most extreme variance, soder points on sub freezing boards near chips that heat rapidly are the most suseptible.
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23-Feb-2008, 01:53 AM #9
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It may be more proper to say stress on the points that are held rigid and near the places of most extreme variance, soder points on sub freezing boards near chips that heat rapidly are the most suseptible.
So you are saying that the socket area on a motherboard PCB will expand or contract due to heat? What extreme variances will a PC see under normal circumstances?

I think we're going way off the subject here. Laptops do not get hot enough to do anything. There is thermal protection circuitry inside that if the CPU gets too hot it will throttle down. Laptops have fans, heatpipes and heatsinks to redirect heat.

I believe the question has been answered.
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23-Feb-2008, 03:01 AM #10
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I don't think it's 25 degrees Fahrenheit inside where the computer is, Elvandil.
It must be pretty close to whatever the outside temp is after the car has been sitting for a while.
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23-Feb-2008, 03:52 AM #11
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It must be pretty close to whatever the outside temp is after the car has been sitting for a while.
You're right. I need to get to sleep.
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23-Feb-2008, 04:50 PM #12
Yeah, you must keep thinking the laptop is running all the time or something instead of starting from below freezing and going to 100 to 130 degrees or more in certain areas very quickly and not in other areas in very close proximity to one another.

If it was left running all the time no problem, solid state parts should run forever, and even so, its not like its going to break in the first couple of years running it through constant heat/cool cycles if its built well (embedded contacts for instance, not just surface mounted), but over time something always gives. At least the temperature gradient goes in the correct direction for a longer life. The contraction cycle is the really wicked one, I've cracked 1/8th inch steel plating by cooling it too quickly after welding, and who hasn't stuck hot thermal glass bakeware under a cold tap, one time? "Honey, I'll be going to Wally World to pick up a new baking dish, anything you need?"
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