Help, when I use memory intensive applications such as Photoshop my computer will get really hot and steam can be seen coming through the computer case and leaking out of the CD ROM tray. What's happening at how can I stop it?!
Susan Spectre. Peoria ,IL

In layman's terms your computer is overheating, but that won't do you much good until you understand how your computer gets rid of excess heat generated by intense number crunching. Most people think that the fan is what cools the computer... not so. While the fan does dissipate some of the heat, the coolant pump that the fan is attached to is where the real action is. When your computer was assembled it came with a coolant system which is a network of tiny 16th tubing that runs in and around the motherboard. Inside this tubing flows the computer coolant which is actually no different than the coolant used in your car. Since your computer is a closed system with very few working parts, your coolant system should last the lifetime of the computer. Unfortunately, through defects or accidents when upgrading, the tubing can be damaged causing the coolant to leak out and/or evaporate. From your description it sounds as if you are low on coolant. Take the case off the computer and find the original coolant tube (it is on the top and is usually golden in color). Unscrew the cap and, using the dipstick that was provided with your computer, test the level. Do this two or three times, cleaning the dipstick in between, just to make sure. If the coolant is below the full mark, add coolant. Be sure to use a funnel so as not to saturate the surrounding hardware. If this fails to solve the problem you probably have a persistent leak and will have to take it in for repairs . Good luck Susan.

Note the cutaway sections on the computer case and coolant pipe. Cutaways are a useful and effective way to demonstrate the inner workings of a device without disrupting the look and feel of said device. This diagram follows the Dynamic Cutaway Guidelines as specified by The Center for Applied Instructional Materials.

Clarification: The coolant tube on the bottom right is not really huge. The distortion of size is achieved through the use of perspective which is an effective way to demonstrate the distance between foreground and background objects.

This diagram is part of the personal collection of Daniel Furdenhiemer Ph.D. and is used with permission. The entire diagram collection entitled "Inside the Beast...Seventy -Two Colorful Diagrams of Computer Hardware Systems" can be seen Monday through Saturday at the Tech Museum in San Jose, California through the year 2003.

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