Can a computer heat up a room?

Server room

You know how smartphones sometimes get really warm after an hour of web browsing, right? And how laptop’s fan is howling on a warm day, spouting hot air from the vents. In a powerful gaming PC heat is an issue. Computers produce heat, but can a computer heat up a room? A Reddit user did some serious maths, and the conclusion was clear: yes, it can. In an average room of 50m³ (you can imagine it as a 3.5 m by 5 m), an average PC running for 12 hours a day is able to increase temperature by about 9°F (4°C). It’s difficult to take into consideration the effects of ventilation, though.

Is a gaming computer more efficient than a space heater?

Space heater
Space heater of approximately 600W (Photo credit: Ashley Pomeroy / CC BY 3.0)

Puget Systems took it even one step further and performed an experiment to determine whether your gaming PC is more efficient than a space heater. They used a powerful machine with 3x NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan 6GB video cards and an Intel Core i7 4960X 3.6GHz Six Core CPU. A controlled environment was created, with room ventilation all blocked off. The PC turned out to be more efficient in heating up the room, than a $25 1500 watt space heater. The results were really close. Both the gaming PC and the space heater raised the room temperature from 70°F to 82°F (from 21°C to 27.5°C) in 2 hours.

Can we use server rooms to heat up cities?

BBC took the question even further. With data centers accounting for 1.5% of all global electricity consumption we might want to try to use it to keep homes warm. One company found a theoretical solution in 2015. Nerdalize in the Netherlands invented a radiator-server or server-radiator. Their radiators are actually a distributed data center connected by fiber optic cable. After four years Nerdalize filed for bankruptcy in 2019, so the idea didn’t turn out cost effective.

Top image: Server room of The National Archives, UK (Photo credit: The National Archives UK / CC BY 3.0)

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  1. It can heat a room MUCH more than that! I live in a room 13′ x 11′ with a 7.4′ high Celine. My room is in a basement and does not have a window in it. With nothing turned on in my room and my door open about 3-5 Inches, when I wake up it’s usually 23°C which is normal room temp. I keep my door closed once I’m awake and of course turn on my amazing gaming PC which is an Asus x570 MB, Ryzen 5 5600X CPU, RTX 3080 GPU. I have a 240mm AIO CPU water cooler and everything is in a new Lian Li 011 Dynamic EVO case with a total of 12 fans + 2 that are on the GPU. There are 3 120mm fans on the bottom of my case that intake air, 5 on the right-side panel, 3 directly against the panel that intake air, and then an AIO radiator mount to the top 2 with 2 more fans also intaking air. There are 3 on the top and 1 on the rear for exhaust (Pushing air out) all fans are 120mm, so my PC has amazing cooling! At idle, my CPU runs 38°C and GPU runs 35°C and it won’t really affect my room temp. Once I start gaming my CPU runs 50°C and my GPU runs around 68°C-73°C within 4 hours my room will be about 27°C and after 8 hours+ it will be 30°C and has gotten as hot as 31.5°C! My 3 PC monitors 2x-24″ & a 34″ ultrawide probably also increase the temperature while gaming.
    When I use to play on a gaming laptop where the CPU was 95°C and GPU 76°C consistently while I gamed, it would get to 30°C+ in a matter of 3-4 hours and as high as 32°C!
    I have recently built my own “Swamp cooler” in which I took a 90qt cooler, cut a 9″ hole on one side of the lid for my 7″ circulation fan and a 6″ hole on the opposite side of the lid with a PVC elbow to direct airflow and I fill it about 4″ with ice-cold water, multiple ice packs and I use ice cream buckets to make big blocks of ice that last 16+ hours and while gaming it keeps my room at 26°C and much lower if not gaming so I have to shut it off lol.
    I’ve gotten very used to these temperatures as I’m on disability (Which is why I rent this very cheap room) and I am home nearly 24/7 so they do not bother me much. now since it’s at 26°C from swamp cooler, it’s completely fine and in the summer the house A/C unit keeps its under 28°C and much lower on very hot days to the point I have to block my air vent lol.
    Also, if my 40″ TV is on for long periods it heats my room up nearly as hot as my PC.
    If my room had a window I’m sure these temperatures wouldn’t be nearly as high as they are. But right now the 1 cold air intake that’s part of the make-up air system is not enough to make any difference lol.

    So in conclusion a PC can definitely heat up a room! to what degree completely depends on the variations of size, air flow, PC temp and more!


    1. Jeebus son! Nice rig. Also, there’s no basement window? What if there’s a fire at the base of the stairs going up?


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