I’m not built for heat. I’m also from a country that’s not often privy to this, so it mostly goes in my favor. However, when the shimmering summer sun beats down in Wales, things can get unbearable pretty quickly. There are a few reasons for this: home air conditioning is not common, nor can cleverly designed buildings find a break to reflect heat back into space. Mainly, though, it’s simply because the temperature gauge barely exceeds 25C (77F) so you don’t really need to plan ahead.
There are days like today that I wish it wasn’t true. A sustained period of extreme weather has hit the worst of that unbearable heat again, with temperatures in my area soaring to a high of 36°C (97°F) every hour.
The same heat is expected tomorrow but will bring rain showers that will push humidity levels up to 11.
The UK meteorological agency, the Met Office, has called this the UK’s first red extreme heat warning ever, with temperatures in the high 30s Celsius (~102°F) in the south-east of the country and possible 40°C local hotspots. It is very likely that the hottest day on record in these fair islands will be sometime in the next 48 hours.
And that doesn’t mean PC gaming to me.
I play and work in a relatively small closet. There’s just enough space for my desk, gaming chair, dyno, and a pullout sofa bed. Actually a room that is terribly cold in winter due to the three outer walls and the measly radiator, but in summer it becomes a new kind of hellscape.
At a certain point, it’s usually my PC’s fault. It’s the only heating element in the room, and it makes this one small room way hotter than any other room in my house.
The UK record isn’t the only one likely to be broken during today’s extreme heat and tomorrow Wales and Scotland will also experience some exceptionally high temperatures which could also come close to records #Heatwave2022 pic.twitter.com/eZ4qPyHzAMJuly 18, 2022
Don’t get me wrong, I love my gaming PC. The high-end Radeon RX 6900 XT (opens in new tab) Chugging around in it, I can run games at 4K and up to 144Hz in all kinds of games. Just a few years ago, I didn’t think that was possible and I certainly didn’t take it for granted. It’s a beast I try not to take for granted every time it comes to life.
The CPU is also a wonderfully impressive gaming chip from a fantastic generation: AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800X (opens in new tab). It’s actually a pretty power-efficient chip for such a fast gaming processor, at least compared to Intel’s high-end, but it’s not the most efficient AMD makes.
Maybe that 350w GPU was a mistake… pic.twitter.com/zgyj7626EsJuly 18, 2022
When these components combine, they spit out hellish heat. Even at idle, my CPU runs at an average Tctl temperature of around 51 °C (124 °F) and my GPU at around 54 °C (129 °F). When it comes to gaming, however, I fear the most for the 300W graphics card, which reaches over 89°C.
The combined heat from the CPU, GPU, five NVMe SSDs, four RAM sticks, network add-in card, and PSU certainly doesn’t do anything to reduce the heat that’s accumulating in my office with no way out. My PC sheds heat faster than I can get it out of the room, which admittedly isn’t very fast, but you get the point – my PC’s heat has nowhere to go.
The unfortunate result of all this is that I don’t touch my gaming PC for its main purpose of gaming while it’s that hot. I feel like my powerful PC flew too close to the sun and fell back to earth like a silicon Icarus in a searing fireball. Or something like that; It’s too hot to think of an exact parable for this situation.
Thankfully, given my geographic location, it won’t be long before it’s freezing cold again. But the volatile nature of heat is why I’m totally unprepared for it.
We have some tips on how to reduce the power consumption of your PC (opens in new tab) (and thus wasted thermal power), which may even save you a few pennies. Although there is little that makes a huge difference when faced with such extreme temperatures as those we are experiencing around the world today.
Perhaps my best option is to forget all those work matters and take a trip to my local Gregg’s Bakery; ergo the most air-conditioned building in my whole area. At least that seems like a reasonable excuse to leave work early. Or I could strap a liquid cooling circuit to my head if needed.
While I can blame my PC for localized overheating in my office space, the likelihood of hot days like this will only increase for years to come. This is due to climate change (opens in new tab).
“In a recent study we found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has increased and will continue to increase throughout the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in south-east England,” said Dr Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office (opens in new tab)says.
“Climate change has already affected the likelihood of extreme temperatures in the UK. The likelihood of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be 10 times more likely in the current climate than in a natural climate unaffected by human influences.”
The Met Office’s chief weather forecaster thinks it’s possible heatwaves like this “will become a regular occurrence by the end of the century,” reports The Guardian (opens in new tab).
Extreme weather will continue to affect our daily lives for years to come, and human-caused climate change will lead to more significant and widespread climate crises around the world. Human-caused global warming is increasing at a rate of 0.2°C per decade, according to the EU (opens in new tab). Only a relatively small increase in average global temperatures is devastating.
Ultimately, we humans hold the keys to climate change, and that means taking action where we can to reduce our own impacts. That can mean looking at ways to reduce our energy consumption in our hobbies like PC gaming – which I’m saying since rumors of next-gen graphics cards with a mighty thirst for performance are still floating around – but also how we recycle more can of our e-waste (opens in new tab). We are sitting on a mountain of precious metals that is largely untapped (opens in new tab)so it’s time to reflect on how we’ve repurposed these rare and hard-to-obtain materials.
Minimum energy consumption for mining cryptocurrency (opens in new tab) has been tanking lately, which has been known to gobble up a country’s energy or more at any given time. Non-proof-of-work algorithms that do away with mining entirely can’t come soon enough – I’m looking at you, Ethereum (opens in new tab).
Importantly, however, we must do everything in our power to hold companies of all kinds accountable for the pollution they cause. That could mean spending your money wisely on those who care and not giving a dime to those who don’t.