How Hot Should My CPU Get and What Is the Optimal Temp?



Category: CPU / APU

how hot should my cpu get

How hot should my CPU get? Unfortunately, this question has no simple answer since the optimal operating temperature is different from one chip manufacturer to another, with variations between models within a particular range. That said, 75-80 degrees Celsius is safe when gaming or under intensive load, while 45-60 degrees Celsius is an ideal CPU temperature when idle.

Numerous factors can cause the core temp of your CPU to spike beyond the norm, which reduces the lifespan of the component. Luckily, you can take steps to help keep your device operating at optimal temperatures. We shall cover how you can monitor the CPU's temperature, why it could go overboard and what to do to ensure it does not slowly degrade due to intense heat.


How to Monitor the CPU Temperature

Unfortunately, Windows and Linux systems do not have a native program that allows you to monitor the temperature readings of your CPU. Consequently, you will need a third-party application to help you out. Here, we shall cover some popular options users can leverage to keep them in the know.

1. Windows Based Systems

a) CPU Temp

If you want a straightforward and effective way of checking the core temperature of your AMD or Intel CPU in a Windows environment, this small application has your back. It can display the hotness of each processing core by taking advantage of a Digital Thermal Sensor embedded in each CPU, regardless of the manufacturer. Consequently, you get real-time readings that are more accurate than programs that rely on onboard thermal sensors. You can download the compact app from here.

b). HWMonitor

The HWMonitor is another free program that offers more than normal CPU temp monitoring. You can check the voltage, clock speeds, fan speeds, currents, batteries and other crucial aspects of your PC's health. You can find the program here, and its far-reaching capabilities will give you reliable information.

c). Open Hardware Monitor

The Open Hardware Monitor found here is an open-source program covering AMD and Intel CPUs. In addition, it provides excellent utility for ATI and Nvidia GPUs. If you have a SMART hard drive, the application will allow you to check its temperature. This CPU temperature monitoring tool offers customizable features and works for a 32-bit Linux OS without requiring installation.

2. Mac OS

When using a Macbook Air or any other Apple computer, specifically powered by non-Apple silicon, you have a native option of checking the CPU temperature. Access the Terminal on your device, then type the following and press enter:

sudo powermetrics --samplers smc |grep -i "CPU die temperature"

Afterward, you can view the complete list of cores and their respective temperatures. As long as you keep this window open, you can view real-time data on the CPU temps.

Conversely, if your computer is rocking the latest in Apple silicone, the Fanny program, found here, will help. With the application, you can check the fan statistics, GPU and CPU temperatures with notifications when the cores hit an unsafe higher temperature. Plus, it works on Intel processors too.

3. Linux Operating System

Using Linux-based operating systems means that you may have to take extra steps to monitor the processor temperatures of your CPU. Luckily, numerous applications exist that leverage the sensors built into the PC hardware, and you can monitor the situation via simple commands. In addition, you can install programs that provide a user-friendly UI like Psensor or Glances.

What Causes Higher CPU Temperatures

In some scenarios, an increase in CPU temperatures is normal. For instance, if you are running power-intensive programs like games and video editing software. However, a general rule is that some applications put more load on the processor and the demand for more output causes a temperature spike.

Nevertheless, some situations may lead to an unwarranted increase in the CPU temp. For example, if you are not playing games, running numerous applications simultaneously or pushing your processor with resource-intensive programs, you need to look out for the following. A malfunctioning CPU cooler system or improper power supply issues can be the culprit. Also, some malware can hijack the processing power of your device and cause the PC temperature to spike.

Fortunately, you have numerous options to reduce CPU temperature to normal levels. We shall cover the various hacks to help you out. After all, there is a risk of damage if you do not get the situation under control.

Lastly, some CPUs achieve their maximum recorded temperature when you boost the clock speed. Although overclocking has its merits when handling heavy loads, it generates more heat, especially when running for extended periods. Therefore, it is prudent to avoid pushing the CPU cores to their absolute limit if your cooling system is not up to par.

How to Maintain the Normal CPU Temperature

a). Using Airflow as a CPU Cooler

Maintaining safe CPU temperatures can often be as simple as investing in decent cooling power throughout the PC tower. However, increasing the number of fans in the case may not have the desired effects. After all, airflow from a hot GPU can flow back within the tower and increase the ambient temperature. In addition, you have to consider the noise output and energy consumption of your cooling design to ensure you do not create other problems while trying to maintain a normal temperature.

A blower fan is an excellent solution for pushing hot air from inside the PC case to the outside. Unfortunately, you will have to contend with more noise, slow operation and the high ambient temperature around the machine. Alternatively, an open-air cooling design can help you achieve lower temperatures quickly and quietly.

It is more effective since the open-air system utilizes vents to blow air out through the sides. In addition, you have numerous options for customizing the design to fit your aesthetic needs. However, if you do not consider proper cable management within the PC case, you will not resolve the issue of higher temperatures within the tower. You can check out our comparison on liquid vs. air cooling to determine which is ideal for your PC gaming setup.

b). Free Exhaust Ports for Better Cooling

When building a PC, you need to ensure the various cables do not generate extra heat by blocking airflow within the case. To maintain the ideal temperature inside the case, utilizing the numerous cable management features available in most PC towers is crucial. Hence, take the time to create a neat setup to ensure optimal performance of the CPU fan. We have the best budget gaming setups and excellent high-end builds that account for proper cable management to ensure the system maintains the optimal temperature.

c). Use Your PC in a Cooler Room

If you are running your PC under direct sunlight or live in a warm climate, the ambient temperatures can cause a spike in the CPU temp. Moving your setup to a cooler area within the house can help your fans draw in cooler air from the environment. Alternatively, it may be crucial to invest in a water cooling system or find utilities that let you increase fan speeds. Unfortunately, the first option is expensive while the latter means more noise when working.

d). Thermal Paste

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If you are not shy around a screwdriver, you can take your PC apart to access the CPU and change the thermal paste. Ideally, you should repeat this process bi-annually to maintain good CPU temperature in different operating conditions. You should check out a detailed tutorial here and utilize stock thermal paste and inexpensive rubbing alcohol to get the desired effects.

e). Clearing Out Dust Bunnies

Dust is a significant inhibitor to maintaining a normal CPU temp. You can open up the device and use compressed air or a blower to clear out the PC components to ensure effective cooling. It is normal for your computer to build up dust over long periods of use, so regularly cleaning it is critical to protect the important components like the graphics card from high temperatures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on CPU Temps

1. How hot is too hot for a CPU?

Ideally, it would be best if you strived to maintain a core temp between 20 degrees Celsius on the low end and 75 degrees Celsius on the high end. Nevertheless, some chips can handle a max temp of up to 80 degrees Celcius. Therefore, it is best to check the manufacturers' specifications for the tolerance range and ensure effective cooling to avoid having a hot CPU.

2. What is the overheating temperature for a CPU?

Manufacturers of high-end CPUs create products capable of handling higher temperatures to cater to extended gaming sessions and other heavy load scenarios. Although some of these chips can operate at readings above 100°C, it is not ideal to subject them to those conditions for long periods. Ideally, you should try and maintain 80°C-90°C when under significant loads to avoid damaging them over time.