I'm not built for heat. I'm also from a country that isn't often privy to it, so that mostly works out in my favour. However, when the shimmering summer sun does come beating down in Wales, it can become unbearable rather quickly. There are a few reasons for that: air conditioning at home isn't common nor will you find any respite in cleverly architected buildings to reflect heat back out to space. Largely, though, it's simply because the temperature gauge hardly ever cracks 25°C (77°F), so there's no real need to plan ahead for it.
It's days like today that I wish it weren't true. An ongoing period of extreme weather has seen the worst of this unbearable heat hit again, with temperatures increasing by the hour to a peak of 36°C (97°F) in my local area.
That same heat is expected tomorrow, though brings with it rain showers that will crack the humidity up to 11.
The UK's meteorological authority, the Met Office, has labelled this as the UK's first ever Red Extreme heat warning, with temperatures in the south east of the country in the high 30s Celsius (~102°F) and potentially cracking 40°C in localised hotspots. It's very likely that the hottest day ever recorded in these fair isles will be at some point in the next 48 hours.
And that means no PC gaming for me.
I game and work in a relatively tiny box room. There's just enough space for my desk, gaming chair, test bench, and a pull-out sofa bed. It's actually a room which is frightfully cold in winter, due to the three exterior walls and puny radiator, but in summer it becomes a new kind of hellscape.
Past a certain point, that's mostly my PC's fault. It's the only heating element in the room, and it makes this one small space far hotter than any other room in my house.
The UK record is not the only one likely to be broken during the extreme heat today and tomorrowWales and Scotland will also see some exceptionally high temperatures that could come close to records as well #Heatwave2022 pic.twitter.com/eZ4qPyHzAMJuly 18, 2022
Don't get me wrong, I adore my gaming PC. The high-end Radeon RX 6900 XT (opens in new tab) chugging along inside it allows me to run games at 4K and up to 144Hz in all manner of game. That is not something I thought to be all that possible, and certainly not pedestrian, only a few years ago. It's a beast that I try not to take for granted each time it whirs to life.
The CPU, too, is a wonderfully impressive gaming chip from a fantastic generation: AMD's Ryzen 7 5800X (opens in new tab). That's actually a rather power efficient chip for a gaming processor so quick, at least compared to Intel's high-end, but it's not the most efficient that AMD makes.
Maybe this 350W GPU was a mistake...🥵 pic.twitter.com/zgyj7626EsJuly 18, 2022
When combined, these components spit out hella heat. Even at idle, my CPU is running at around 51°C (124°F) average Tctl temperature and my GPU around 54°C (129°F). When gaming it's the 300W graphics card that I fear for most, however, reaching upwards of 89°C.
The combined heat from the CPU, GPU, five NVMe SSDs, four sticks of RAM, networking add-in card, and PSU certainly do not help reduce the heat that's gathering in my office with nowhere to go. My PC is spitting out heat faster than I can vent it out of the room, which admittedly isn't very fast, but you get the idea—there's nowhere for the heat from my PC to go.
The unfortunate outcome of all this is that I'm not touching my gaming PC for its primary purpose of gaming while it's so hot out. I feel my powerful PC has flown too close to the sun, and like a silicon Icarus it's come crashing back down to Earth in a scorching fireball. Or something like that; it's too hot to think up an accurate parable for this situation.
Luckily, by way of my geographical location, it won't be long until it's absolutely freezing out again. But the fleeting nature of the heat is why I'm completely unprepared for it.
We do have some tips for reducing your PC's power consumption (opens in new tab) (and thus wasted heat output), which may even help you save some pennies along the way. Though there's little that will make a mighty difference when facing such extreme temperatures like these we're experiencing across the globe today.
Perhaps my best option is to forget all this work business and take a trip to my local Gregg's bakery; ergo, the most air-conditioned building in my entire area. That feels to me like a suitable excuse to leave work early, at least. Or I could strap a liquid cooling loop to my head if needs must.
While I can blame my PC for locally superheating my office space, the likelihood of hot days such as these is only going to increase in coming years. That's 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 been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the southeast of England," Dr Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office (opens in new tab), says.
"Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence."
The Met Office's chief meteorologist suggests it's possible that heatwaves such as this could "become a regular occurrence by the end of the century," The Guardian reports (opens in new tab).
Extreme weather will continue to impact our daily lives in years to come, and human-induced climate change will lead to more significant and widespread climate crises globally. Human-induced global warming is increasing at a rate of 0.2°C per decade, the EU says (opens in new tab). Only a relatively small increase in global average temperatures is disastrous.
Ultimately, it's us humans who hold the keys to changing the climate, and that means taking action where we can to reduce our own impact. That may mean we look to our hobbies, such as PC gaming, for ways to help reduce our energy usage—which I say as rumours of next-generation graphics cards with mighty thirsts for power are still bouncing around—but also how to recycle more of our e-waste (opens in new tab). We're sitting on a pile of precious metals that is largely untapped (opens in new tab), so it's time to start thinking about how we re-used to these rare and hard-to-get materials.
At least energy usage for mining cryptocurrency (opens in new tab) has tanked as of late, which has been known to gobble up a country's or more worth of energy at a given time. Non-proof-of-work algorithms that do away with mining altogether can't come soon enough—looking at you, ethereum (opens in new tab).
Importantly, however, we must do what we can to hold companies of all manner accountable for the environmental messes they help create. That might mean spending your money more wisely on those that care, and not giving those that don't a cent more.