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For example, does a 3.4 GHz CPU run hotter than a 2.0 GHz one, or is it designed in such a way that the heat generated is pretty much the same? Similarly, does a GeForce 7800 GTX run much hotter than, say, a GeForce 4 Ti 4600?

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Normally the fast CPU's and video cards run hotter than a slower one. If you have a good case with good cooling, it should not be a problem.

The one area that this is a big problem is with laptops. Sometimes it is best to go with a slower unit to get better cooling and battery life.
 

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The more compact and powerful processors get, the more things are going on in a smaller and smaller space with every new technology. Electrical componets produce heat as a byproduct of functioning. Cram a whole crapload of 'em in a little space, or a board with a whole bunch, and you will get more heat.

It's something that's gonna happen, hence the explosion in cooling solutions.
 
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