Cooling your system and keeping it quiet
When people newer to building or maintaining their own computers think about upgrades, things like new monitors and faster processors come to mind. It's the simple things though, like keeping your computer cool, that make a huge difference and should not be overlooked. Systems that are constantly overheating become unstable, and the lifespan of your aging computer may be cut short and cost you more money in the long run since you're replacing parts more frequently. So how do you keep your computer cool even during those intense PvP battles?
Prevention is one of the best ways to keep your system running coolly. Clean your fan regularly by taking your computer outside and using a can of compressed air on it to blow away the gathered dust (you don't have to take your computer outside, but the point is to get rid of the dust, not blow it back into your room). You also need to make sure that the fan isn't obstructed and that it's spinning properly - fans can get clogged up by dust and stop, which is definitely not something you want to happen.
Time to Put the Old Girl Out to Pasture?
Even if you keep your fan clean, parts will age and your fan will not only stop being as effective, but it'll start to make more noise, which could be extremely annoying if you're forced to listen to it every time you're at your computer.
Stock coolers (the ones you get when you go out and buy a computer from most places) aren't very good and tend to be noisier. If you decide to build your own computer or purchase a custom one from places like iBuyPower.com, you'll want to get an aftermarket cooler. As these coolers cool better, you'll be able to overclock better and extend the lifespan of your CPU. But is the difference in cooling really worth the money? Let's just put it this way: switching from a stock cooler to a decent aftermarket one can lower the temperature by 5-10 degrees Celsius. That's quite a difference!
Basic aftermarket coolers have heat pipes that pull heat from the CPU more effectively. Make sure to pick one with lower RPM (meaning it spins slower) and lower decibel output, which you can find on the manufacturers' specs. If keeping your computer extra quiet is really important to you, stick with a cooler that has fluid dynamic bearings or magnetic bearings. If you'd rather strike a balance between paying extra and reducing noise, try a cooler with one or two ball bearings instead as while they're not as quiet, they'll still keep things on the hush-hush.
While you're looking for a new cooling system, you also might want to consider buying a case with an additional fan port. Decent fans that screw into these ports will cost you about $15-$20, making it an extremely affordable way to keep your more expensive parts in tip-top shape.