Here are some of the most common questions and answers we get about computer temperature here at Micro Center:
Q: What kind of CPU temperatures should I expect when using my computer?
A: This mostly depends on what you’re doing on the computer as well as what kind of processor and cooling you have. Gaming is going to use more resources than just browsing the internet and therefore you’ll have higher temperatures. Generally speaking, under 80 Celsius is within normal operating temperatures.
Q: How hot is too hot for my CPU?
A: Past 90C is when the CPU will usually start throttling its performance in order to keep temperatures down. As temperatures rise performance will continue to throttle more. Long-term use in those temperature ranges can damage the CPU over time. There is a maximum temperature that a CPU can operate, typically between 105-110C, and if you hit that point your system will automatically shut down to prevent damage to the processor.
Q: What kind of temperatures should I expect when the computer is idling?
A: This depends on a lot on the ambient temperature of the room your computer is in. Typically, 10 degrees Celsius above ambient temperature is what to expect depending on the CPU and cooling solution you’re using. If your room is 30C, you would expect 40C, or less if your computer has good cooling in place.
Q: How do I tell if my computer is overheating?
A: There are many software programs that allow you to monitor the temperatures of various components on your computer. Examples of those include the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, the Ryzen Master Utility, NZXT CAM, and others.
Q: What do I do if my CPU is overheating?
A: First, make sure that the thermal paste on your CPU heatsink is good (not dried up or chalky), replace it if not, and when you do so make sure the heatsink is making good contact with the CPU. Make sure the CPU fans are plugged into the CPU fan header on your motherboard and are running. If the CPU is still overheating even then, try a different cooler. If it’s still overheating even after that, it’s possible that the CPU is failing.
Q: What are typical GPU temperatures?
A: GPU temperature expectations are going to be very similar to your CPU. Under 80C is what you’ll generally want to see. This does partly depend on your GPU as well, if you have a card that uses a blower-style cooler it will typically be hotter than a card that uses the more common open-air style.
Q: How hot is too hot for my GPU?
A: Similar to CPU expectations again, under 90C is typically safe. When going above that you will be in situations where the GPU will start throttling itself to keep from overheating and if you run at very high temperatures for a long period of time, that can cause damage to the GPU.
Q: What do I do if my GPU is overheating?
A: Try limiting your framerate and lowering your settings to lower the workload on your GPU. Make sure your GPU is free of dust and obstructions. If your GPU is still overheating there’s likely some kind of internal problem causing it that would require disassembling the GPU and replacing thermal paste, thermal pads and other components. That type of work is not recommended for the end user.
Q: How do I improve cooling on my desktop?
A: There are many ways to improve cooling. You can purchase a larger heatsink/fan to cool your CPU, you could purchase a case that has more fans for better overall ventilation, you could even upgrade to a liquid cooling system.
Q: Is liquid cooling or air cooling better?
A: Liquid cooling generally has higher performance than air cooling. However, top-of-the-line air coolers can still compete with good AIO liquid coolers. A well-designed custom liquid cooling loop will provide the best cooling performance but they are expensive and high maintenance compared to a normal AIO liquid cooler or air cooling.
Q: What are typical laptop CPU temperatures?
A: Laptops in general run at higher temperatures than their desktop counterparts due to reduced air flow. 90C is the high end of normal operating temperatures, if under a heavy load it is not uncommon to see temperatures in the mid-nineties or a bit higher.
Q: How do I improve cooling on my laptop?
A: There isn’t much that can be done internally on a laptop to improve cooling besides making sure it’s free of dust/debris. Make sure that the laptop is being run on hard flat services to help promote airflow. There are also cooling pads that have fans built into them to help promote even more airflow and keep temperatures down.