How Hot Is Too Hot for CPU Temperatures?



Category: Cooling

how hot is too hot for cpu

Your PCs rely on powerful central processing units (CPUs) to execute browsing, gaming, or more instructions. However, the CPU can get hot sometimes, and you will feel your work area or room getting warmer. But, how hot is too hot for CPU temperatures? We will answer this question and also give you more tips to keep your CPU cool at all times.


How Hot is Too Hoot for CPU Temps?

Regardless of what instructions you give your gaming PC or work computer, it is designed to work optimally without overheating. Normally, the normal CPU temperature ranges between 20° Celsius or 68° Fahrenheit and 26° Celcius or 79° Fahrenheit. You can use a mercury thermometer to measure your room temperature.

But, while you want to work under this normal CPU temp, it is not uncommon for temperatures to rise towards 60 degrees Celsius and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, especially during summer, which could have you scared for your working or gaming PC. In most cases, your computer runs at a higher but safe CPU temperature than the room's temperature levels.

Thus, it can be tough to understand when your CPU's temperature is too high. To help you answer how hot is too hot for your CPU, we have detailed how it generates heat as you work, how it cools down, and measures you can take to prevent dangerous overheating. Read on to understand your CPU temps.

How Does a CPU Generate Heat?

For you to feel the heat generated by your PC, it means the CPU, which is made up of billions of transistors, has resisted some electrical energy it received from a battery or power outlet. The CPU uses thermodynamics to carry out the instructions you give it.

Since the PC is an electric device, it receives electrical currents to the CPU. Depending on the task the PC is performing, such as playing video games or more, it only uses enough electricity for the task. When more than enough electricity is generated, the CPU resists the excess, which is transformed into heat energy. Wondering how?

Since the CPU uses electrical power to function, it follows the Joules Law of resisting excess energy and converting it to heat energy. The CPU is made with an integrated circuit consisting of many semiconductors, diodes, and transistors. These small parts create electrical resistance in the circuit, which converts the lost energy into heat.

Besides the Joules Law, a CPU also follows the second law of thermodynamics which talks about entropy. Under this law, entropy is energy transfer or electricity, and when it is constant in a system, you are bound to experience heat loss or transfer.

In a nutshell, your CPU decides how much electrical current is needed to perform certain tasks. Since it receives the electrical charge constantly from the battery or power supply, it will end up with more energy than is needed, which means it will look for ways to get rid of the electrical currents. In this process, the energy current is converted into heat energy.

When heat is generated, your CPU needs cooling, which is where a CPU cooler comes in handy. Let us see how your CPU cools down after generating heat energy.

How Does a CPU Cool Down?

As we saw earlier, your CPU has various parts that receive electrical currents to function. When it receives excess electrical current, the excess is converted into heat energy which gets your CPU quite hot. As a result, your PC starts emitting hot air, which eventually makes your workplace and room warmer.

While this is a natural process to cool your PC and maintain it in good working condition, the CPU needs a reliable CPU cooler lest it gets too hot, which would inevitably damage it. Here, let us see how the CPU coolers work, and later, signs it is not doing a good cooling job that would expose your CPU to heat damage.

What is a CPU cooler?

A CPU cooler or a stock cooler is a device that draws heat from a hot CPU. After the CPU generates heat energy from excess electrical currents, it gets hot, which is why you will notice your computer getting hotter as you work. Thus, a good cooler is imperative to draw this heat from the device as it helps improve CPU performance and productivity.

There are two types of CPU coolers;

  1. An air cooler can include a heat sink and a fan, and it dissipates heat into the surrounding air, thus lowering the CPU temperatures. This type of cooler is ideal also for improving better airflow, so the CPU works optimally throughout.
  2. A liquid cooler uses a radiator and a heatsink to lower the CPU temperature. The cooler has very small pipes that carry a cooling liquid which draws excess heat from the CU components and takes it to the radiator. Once in the radiator, heat is then released into the ambient air outside the PC, thereby cooling the liquid in the process.

How does the CPU cooler work?

CPU coolers have several components that help draw heat from the CPU body. These parts include;

  • A heatsink with an array of thinly spread out aluminum fins
  • A base made of aluminum or copper
  • Heatpipes that are porous on the insides, a hollow center with a cooling liquid, and a solid shell cover

In operation, the cooler interacts with the CPU's heat plate and a thermal paste, a material that sits between the CPU and the cooler. Here are the simple steps to show how the cooler works;

Step 1: The heat energy circulating the CPU is transferred to the cooler's base through the thermal paste.

Step 2: From the base, the heat is transferred into the cooler's heat pipes which contain a coolant liquid. It heats the coolant liquid in the pipes until it evaporates into a gas.

Step 3: After the phase change, this gas travels through the heat pipes, where CPU fans further cool it and condense it back into liquid form.

Step 4: The cold liquid travels from the heat pipes to the heat sink, where it repeats the cooling process by absorbing the heat generated from the hot CPUs.

You will achieve an ideal CPU temperature for most tasks when all parts are working. But, if you notice the CPU temperature is way higher than your ambient room temperature, you might need to do a few things to prevent overheating. Before we show you how to fix high CPU temps, here are the signs your CPU is overheating to dangerous temperatures.

Signs Your CPU is Overheating

According to this report, an overheating CPU can cause serious physical injuries to your body, especially your legs, when you use a laptop without a desk. The overheating mostly emerges from the CPU where a cooler might fail or when you use the PC for tough tasks. Whichever the cause of overheating, here are some signs to look out for.

1. Noisy fans

The first non-complex indication of an overheating CPU is noisy fans. When your PC has a normal CPU temperature, you rarely hear the fans running. In some cases, when the computer is idle, the fans will be relatively quiet also.

Your CPU fans work at different normal speeds depending on the activities the computer is performing. For instance, you might not hear the fans running when working on an offline Word document, but you will hear them once you start streaming movies or gaming.

In most cases, the fans will be okay, only ramping up the speeds when more heat is generated in the CPU. But, when you can tell the fans are running at full throttle, that's your indication of a computer that is about to fry the CPU, hence requiring immediate action.

When the CPU's temperature gets too high, you may choose to invest in the best RGB fans when your tasks cannot wait for the temperature to get lower.

2. Reduced PC performance

Have you just noticed your PC taking forever to load pages or perform various tasks? The condition is known as thermal throttling, and it enables your CPU to work under a lower frequency to reduce heat generation and transference.

Not sure if your CPU is throttling? Here are the steps to help you diagnose the problem;

Check for CPU throttling through your Task Manager

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Step 1: Open your Task Manager by clicking CTRL+Shift+Esc on Windows.

Step 2: Open the Performance Tab in your Task Manager, then click CPU.

Step 3: Open an application you suspect causes overheating on your computer, such as a video editing app or a video game.

Step 4: Observe how the Utilization and Speed numbers change on the CPU Performance Tab you opened earlier. If the Utilization nears 100% while the speeds fall to near zeros, that indicates a throttling CPU.

3. Is your PC too hot?

You can tell when your PC has a high CPU temperature when it feels hot to the touch. While a PC will feel warm or hot any time you use it, sometimes it can feel too hot, almost as if it could burn you. If you are using a laptop, it is even possible for the hot PC body to burn your skin or inflict other skin injuries.

4. Random shutdowns

If your PC keeps shutting down when you work, that is another sign your CPU is overheating. As seen earlier, your CPU can withstand high temperatures, but if it exceeds about a maximum limit, the CPU is designed to shut down and prevent permanent damage.

When you notice your PC keeps shutting down, observe which applications or tasks you try to attempt before it shuts off. If an application requires more CPU processing, you can avoid opening it on the PC as it will cause overheating. However, if you can't tell what is causing the overheating, it is best to avoid using the PC for the most demanding tasks.

5. Check for overheating manually

If you don't have a way of telling if your CPU temperature is higher than normal, you can attempt to sniff out any cooling problems manually. Some of the best CPUs, such as the AMD CPU, are compatible with CPU temperature monitors like SolarWinds and HWMonitor.

However, before using any CPU temperature monitor, understand a healthy installation process and the features that indicate when a CPU is too hot for safety.

Is Your CPU Temp Too High for Safety?

Now that you know when your CPU could be overheating, you want to play on the safe side to prevent any damage to your PC hardware. To be safe, you need to understand the average CPU temp, normal CPU temperature, and higher CPU temperatures that pose a risk to your entire gaming setup.

Average CPU temperatures

As seen earlier, CPU temperatures are ideal between 20° Celsius or 68° Fahrenheit and 26° Celcius or 79° Fahrenheit. With the best fans and CPU coolers, you can keep your PC cool so it can perform better all the time.

While these temperatures are the best, you may notice your CPUs getting hotter than 26 degrees Celsius and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The PC and CPU can be safe under higher temperatures depending on which applications you run and how often you run the applications.

You can cause an increase in CPU temperatures when you overclock your CPU or when gaming and editing heavier video files. But, how hot is too hot for CPU temp?

Very hot CPU temp

When performing some CPU-demanding tasks, it is perfectly normal for your CPU temp to rise. While you may think the temperatures are damaging, anything below 60 degrees Celsius and 170 degrees Fahrenheit is still okay for your CPU.

It will get dangerous when your CPU starts withstanding temperatures above 75 degrees Celsius or 167 degrees Fahrenheit. So when you start getting these very hot temperatures, it is best to look for ways to cool your PC. Alternatively, you can shut the PC down and bring it to a cooler room to enable faster cooling.

Here are the best ways to prevent overheating your CPU's temperature.

How to Fix High CPU Temperature

If you know your CPU temp is higher than normal, you need to make all efforts to bring the heat down and prolong the life of your PC. Not sure where to start? These are the best methods to cool your CPU.

1. Keep your room cool

The first step to keeping your CPU temperature is storing your PC in a cool room. As we mentioned earlier, ambient room temperatures can affect your CPU temperature. So, if you have a window or door, open it to let in colder air to lower the ambient temperature.

If it is summer and the outdoor temperature is high, you will need to keep your AC or external fan on to lower the room temperature.

2. Clean your PC case

One of the main reasons for overheating CPUs is compressed air in the PC case. The compressed air comes from blocked vents, and you will need to clean these to restore better cooling for your PC and CPU.

To clean your PC case, first shut the computer down completely, then open the case. Next, place it on a flat surface inside a ventilated room and clean all the vents. You will be looking for dust and other external elements.

Dusty PC case

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But, if you have an overheating laptop, you might want to take it to a repair shop to avoid damaging internal components.

3. Replace the thermal paste

CPU thermal paste

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This step is vital if you just cleaned the vents and moved the PC to a cooler room, but it still overheats. The thermal paste sits between the CPU and the CPU cooler's base. It attracts the excess heat from your CPU to the cooler, which is why it tends to wear out every four to five years.

Before replacing the thermal paste, make sure your PC is off and disconnected from its power supply and that you have your new thermal paste ready. Next, open up your PC to access the cooler, then use a microfiber cloth wet with an isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe off the old thermal paste from the CPU and cooler.

When all traces of the old paste are gone, apply your new thermal paste, reinstall your cooler and PC case, and power the PC.

4. Add more case fans

If you do all the above, but your CPU shows signs of overheating, you can add some of the best case fans to lower your CPU temps. When buying your case fans, ensure you get more intake fans than exhaust fans.

If you have enough room on your PC set up, you can look for 120mm fans since they offer the best cooling power. However, it is important to install them in a positive configuration to maintain healthy temperatures.

5. Replace your CPU's cooler

You can opt to replace the cooler if your CPU temperatures are getting high after all the steps above. However, before buying a new cooler, make sure it is compatible with your CPU and that you can install it without damaging other CPU or PC components.

6. Shut down your PC

If all attempts to bring your CPU temperatures down bear no fruits, it will be best to schedule the best times to shut your PC down. It could cool down completely when the PC is off as no electrical currents transverse the circuits.

This method is especially great when you do not want to replace the cooler as CPU coolers, and their replacement can be a bit expensive.

So, pick the best time to turn your computer off for several hours after you have finished your work projects. During this time, ensure the room is airy s the CPU can cool down faster.

How Hot is Too Hot For CPU Temperatures? Frequently Asked Questions

a) What is a good CPU temp?

Your best PC temperature is between 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees F) and 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees F). It is ideal to ensure the ambient air is not colder or hotter than this, too, as it can damage your CPU.

b) Why does my CPU stay hot when idle?

If your CPU reaches its maximum temperature when you are not working, you likely have CPU-intensive applications running in the background. If you can forego these operations, you can consider shutting the PC down to cool the CPU.

c) How should I diagnose an overheating CPU?

You can spot an overheating CPU when the PC feels hot to the touch, when the CPU fans are too noisy, when the PC is sluggish in performance, and when your PC keeps shutting down at odd times.

d) How can I prevent CPU overheating?

Suppose you notice your CPU heating to over 29 degrees celsius. In that case, you can attempt some preventative cooling methods such as shutting the PC down periodically, cleaning the cases, transferring the PC to a cooler room, and adding more case fans.

If your CPU is eating to dangerous temperatures, you can replace the cooler, thermal paste, or avoid CPU-intensive processes on the PC.

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