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How Hot Should My CPU Be? Finding out Safe CPU Temperatures!

If you just built your own computer, or have been running an old system that you might want to check up on, one of the first things that you need to do is to check on your CPU temperature. You need to know what the normal CPU temp is, and what temp you need to be running at to protect the integrity of your system unit.

But monitoring your average CPU temp won’t do you any good if you don’t know what CPU temperature you should be at for games, office tasks, or even entertainment. In this article, we’ll show you how to check for normal CPU temperature, and tell you how hot your CPU should be running.

Every processor is built to run at different temperature ranges, meaning they’ll have different maximum operating temperatures. The core premise is still the same, regardless. If your CPU is too hot when it shouldn’t be, you end up damaging your PC in the long run.

If you just want a quick answer, or a one-size fits all kind of answer, don’t fret. We also have that information available to you in this article.

Quick Fix – Is Your CPU Temp Too High?

This section may not be an accurate one-size-fits-all answer, but you should have a slight idea on what normal CPU temperature your PC should be hovering at.

When we say “Normal” CPU temps, it usually varies between processors. But generally speaking, your CPU temp limit should hover at about 45-degrees Celsius when idle, or over 95-degrees Celsius when under full load. By full load, we mean you’re doing heavy processing tasks such as gaming, video editing, rendering, and more. If you find your CPU hitting 45-degrees Celsius, or 95-degrees Celsius consistently, then it’s a cause for concern because you might have a problem.

Note that this is a blanket statement and may or may not even affect your CPU in its entirety. What might be high CPU temperatures for one brand might be different for the next. If you really want to know the root cause of high CPU temperatures, continue reading this article.

What’s The Ideal CPU Temperature Range?

When we say ideal CPU temperature range, we mean the optimal temperature that allows your CPU to perform at its best. One might consider a good CPU temp would be somewhere at low temperature limit when under a light load, and then increase from there when certain tasks call for more processing power.

When CPU temperatures get too high, it can damage PC components or slow down the entire system unit. Modern CPUs have built-in thermal protection that prevents the CPU from reaching dangerous temperatures. But as mentioned earlier, different processors on the market have different tolerances or ranges, but you’ll find that there’s an optimal range for temperatures that help maximize CPU usage and performance. The acceptable range for any brand is about 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (about 65 to 70 degrees Celsius) when the CPU is running apps. If you’re gaming or intensive software (3d-rendering or editing, video editing, etc.) temperature limit can go as high as 175 degrees Fahrenheit (which is 80 degrees Celsius).

Laptops are a different story because they’re most prone to high temperatures due to the nature of their build. The acceptable temperature range for laptops running at low load is about 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (71 to 80 degrees C), and as high as 190 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees C) for playing games and intensive tasks. Higher-end 120Hz gaming laptops are more capable of handling higher temperatures than non-gaming laptops.

For optimal performance for either laptop or desktop, you should be hitting these ranges for your CPU’s temperature. If it’s higher, then you might have issues.

How Do You Monitor CPU Temperature?

Monitoring your CPU temp should be done as frequently as you’d check your car’s oil, but it’s a lot easier to check for the former. You don’t need to do it daily, but it’s something that you might want to keep an eye out for.

Keeping tabs of your CPU temp will help you identify potential issues that could affect your performance. If you know what your current temperature is for idling, playing games, and office productivity tasks, then you should have no performance issues at all because you know what temps you should be running. You also have an idea on a healthy temperature range for your CPU, and so you avoid thermal throttling.

Thermal throttling happens when you’ve reached maximum temperature for a specific task, i.e. gaming or video editing, and to prevent further damage to your unit, your CPU or GPU will reduce its performance to shed some heat.

Bu how do you check your CPU temp? There are a couple of ways for you to do this.

Via Motherboard’s BIOS

You can check for your CPU temperature via your Motherboard’s BIOS, but you’ll only read your average CPU temp when the unit’s idle. It won’t help you know what temps you’re running when you’re stress testing.

Temperature shown in BIOS may also be a bit higher than what the system is actually idling in Windows because BIOS will boot your processor using higher voltage levels to make sure that it will start up.

If you want a more accurate reading of CPU temperature, you’ll need to work with third-party programs. Most of them are free to download and use, while there are others that require a small fee.

Use Hardware Monitoring Software such as Core Temp

As mentioned above, you check for CPU temperatures using third-party hardware monitoring software. A good example is Core Temp, which is also what I use to monitor my CPU’s temperatures.

My gaming rig runs on an Intel Core i7-8700K processor, which is a 6-core CPU. Core Temp will show you the temperatures are for these six-cores. My average CPU idle temp for all cores sits at 30-degrees C, which is lower than you’d expect from its AMD CPU counterparts.

Now this might not be the case for another Intel CPU, but Core Temp will definitely let you know how hot your CPU is going, regardless of brand and hardware specifications.

Using Prime95 to Stress-Test

To push CPUs to the limit, we use third-party software stress-test tools such as Prime95 to identify potential heating issues and more when GPUs and CPUs are put under heavy load.

What these software actually do is to push both processor and even GPUs past their realistic levels. By realistic levels, we refer to the highest maximum temperature that may or may not affect performance.

Stress testing CPUs and GPUs will allow you to determine how hot your system can go under controlled environments. You’re not exactly forcing them to run on its maximum recorded temperature for too long. Stress-testing only takes a few minutes and even then, you’re not exactly running at max temps all throughout.

What Are Safe CPU Temps Under Load?

Using my CPU as an example, Core Temp puts my average CPU temperature at about 77 degrees C to 80 degrees Celsius at a 100% load.

Now I know what my ideal temps should be for my Intel Core i7 processor, but is it a good range in general? These temps are relatively safe, regardless if it’s an Intel CPU or AMD CPU. But there are a few things to consider here:

You Now Know Your CPU’s Normal Temp When Idle and Under Heavy Load – What’s Next?

Intel and AMD are the biggest hardware manufacturers for CPUs, but they do not provide you with specific numbers on what’s considered normal CPU temperature. There’s not a lot of info anywhere on the web that will give you this info outright.

This is because there are different factors that will determine what temperatures your processor’s cores are running at. If a hardware manufacturer suggested a one-size-fits-all recommended operating temperature, it could make things worse for the end users.

So the only way for you to gauge if your average idle temp and heavy load temp are within ideal range is to compare it with other people who own the same CPU as you. You can check forum posts or watch videos about the processors that they have

You’ll find that a lot of PC enthusiasts are more than happy to provide you with CPU temperature information, mostly for the purpose of third party benchmarking reference or for showing off. The latter is quite an uncommon reason, but people still do it especially when they overclock their processors and run on better cooling solution (i.e. liquid cooling). Liquid cooling allows people to let their CPUs run hotter for extended periods without sustaining thermal damage and reducing blue screen risks.

Different Factors That Affect CPU Temps

It’s normal for CPUs and GPUs to increase in temperature when they’re doing minor or intensive tasks. But apart from idling and heavy load, there are different factors that come into play that will affect your CPU’s temperature.

Optimal CPU Temperatures Depend On What Brand of CPU You Have

My Intel Core i7 processor will be running at different temperature ranges than someone with an AMD CPU counterpart, or an older Intel Core i3 CPU at idle and under heavy load.

Processors run at different temperatures but it doesn’t mean that the discrepancy is large. you’re looking at a couple degrees Celsius, higher or lower. Then there are other factors that come into play that could affect CPU temperatures greatly.

So, the first thing you need to understand is that you shouldn’t compare the temperatures you are getting to the temperatures someone else is getting who has a completely different processor.

Better CPU Cooling Solutions Mean Better CPU Temps

Paired with my i7-8700K is an 360mm AIO cooler, which is a lot better than the stock coolers that typical processors might come with. When I would compare my idle temp with another person who runs the same CPU but with the stock cooler, my temperatures would be relatively lower.

It comes as no surprise that custom system builders who are putting their CPUs under heavy loads constantly run liquid cooling systems to help dissipate heat. These are people who thrive on higher CPU temperatures just so they can have more processing power. And obviously, people with liquid cooling will have CPU temperatures that are lower than mine, even when under heavy load.

The same thing can be said for the thermal paste that you’re using. Stock thermal paste applied on Intel’s CPU stock coolers are not going to give off better heat transfer as compared to a high-end thermal paste or compound. As a result, reapplying thermal paste that’s considered high-end will greatly affect your CPU temperatures. Different PC cases can also affect your cooling solutions.

So this is also something worth considering for managing CPU temperatures.

Better PC Casing With Higher Airflow Equals Better CPU Temps

Think of your computer as a house. Your house wouldn’t be as cool as the next house if you didn’t have any windows or any form of ventilation. Likewise, a good PC casing that provides you with better airflow can greatly affect your CPU temperature and GPU temperature.

You might have the same processor as me, or the next person, but if they have a PC casing that has more fans and more ventilation than yours, they’re going to run on lower temperatures for idle and heavy loads.

Of course, you could also consider that these if you want less heat coming from your PC.

Ambient Room Temperature Must Be Considered Too

Another factor that affects normal CPU temp is your ambient room temp. Let’s say you built a PC with the same processor as me, which is an i7-8700K and you fire it up. Your normal CPU temperature is somewhere at 33-degrees C for idle. You’re probably thinking this is normal and average because you saw someone post a temperature of 30-degrees C with the same CPU on another forum.

Why is your processor is 3 degrees higher than the other person’s CPU? It’s quite possible that your room temperature where you are running your computer is higher than that person’s room temp when he or she was running their computer. It could also mean that your processor was

A fully air-conditioned room will affect the CPU’s temperature differently, both idle and under heavy loads, as opposed to another room that just relies on window ventilation. It might just so happen that the person who was running 3 degrees lower than you had a cooler room or lives in a country that’s colder than yours.

Overclocking Your Processor Means Higher Temperatures

It goes without saying that overclocking your processor will result in higher temperatures. Overclocking happens when you have your CPU running higher clock speeds than its stock settings.

The faster your CPU is running, the hotter it will get. Combine this with liquid cooling system and a software that allows you to manage fan speeds (i.e. MSI Afterburner). If you’re just relying on stock cooling solutions, then overclocking is going to cause your CPU’s integrity to deteriorate faster.

What Is A Normal CPU Temp While Gaming?

Gaming will always put extra stress on your CPU and GPU. This means that when you’re gaming, you’re more or less running at close to high temperatures for both components. Of course, both CPU and GPU will be running at temperatures that they can manage. The CPU won’t get too hot, unless there are underlying problems.

What’s the optimal CPU temperature when it comes to gaming? That’s a common question asked by a lot of people who aren’t familiar with how hot their components should get.

What Is The Optimal CPU Temperature While Gaming?

For this section, it doesn’t really matter if you’re running an AMD or Intel CPU. The temperature threshold for processors may vary greatly, but the discrepancy is very minimal. You’re looking at plus or minus a couple of degrees Celsius between two different processors to determine which has better temperatures.

Optimal CPU temperatures when you’re gaming should not exceed 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit), and should hover anywhere between 75 degrees and 80 degrees Celsius. If you have cooling features that allow you to run on less heat, then that’s a different story.

But even if you have a better cooling design, longer gaming sessions will always force you your CPU to reach higher than normal temperatures. This, in turn, will result in thermal throttling. Your gaming performance will deteriorate just so it can shed off some heat.

Now thankfully, modern games are now designed in a way that the majority of their performance is drawn from the GPU’s power, which wasn’t always the case before. Back then, games heavily relied on CPU to meet performance requirements. Today, games are now reliant on drawing more power from GPU to increase frame rates. This resulted in consumers now demanding more power from the GPU manufacturers and better cooling solutions to help balance out performance and heat.

But for the longest time, AMD and Nvidia are two GPU manufacturers which have gone after each other’s throats. The latter just so happens to have dominated the market, but it doesn’t mean that AMD is lackluster in terms of their GPU roster as well.

At most, modern GPUs capped out their max temps at about 95 degrees Celsius. This is done so there’s no further damage done to the GPU when it’s under heavy load. But having said that, it doesn’t mean that you should always be pushing past 85 degrees Celsius at any given time, even if your GPU is meant to go hotter.

Regardless of whatever brand of GPU you have, it’s worth noting that there are different contributing factors that affect your GPU’s temperatures:

  • Playing heavily GPU-dependent games
  • GPU’s cooling design
  • Ambient room temperature
  • Quality of the case
  • Available cooling solution (i.e. liquid cooling, high-end CPU coolers, etc)
  • Quality of airflow (i.e. number of case fans, ventilation options)

Going back to previous discussions about comparing the same CPU but with different parameters, having the same GPU with another person does not mean you’ll be running on the same temps. Whatever affects the overall temperature of your CPU will also affect your GPU.

How Do You Fix High CPU Temps?

We’ve discussed what are the different factors that could affect your CPU’s temperatures, and we’ve also tackled how you can improve your CPU’s temps as well.

If you really want to fix your high CPU temperatures, then consider doing the following:

  • reinstalling your CPU cooler, or purchasing a better one
  • Reapplying thermal paste (consider purchasing commercial or high-end compounds)
  • Buy a better case
  • Reconfigure your fans (you can do this together with buying a new case)
  • Clean out your computer with compressed air or some light brushing
  • Remove the side panel of your PC (if you’re overclocking)

Doing any of these should help you reach optimal temperatures for both CPU and GPU, resulting in optimal performance anytime.