When it comes to our computers, we want them running smoothly, don’t we? We want a quick start-up, a silent operation, and a cool operating system.
Whether we invest in top-of-the-line fans or wire up a cooling water system, most of us will do everything that we can to ensure our PC doesn’t overheat.
But there’s always one thing that lets us down, isn’t there? And for many of us, it’s our CPU. Supposedly the glue that holds our PC together can be the cause of any overheating issues.
It becomes tricky to navigate and ensure that our CPU is running at the safe and correct temperature.
You start to wonder, is it too hot? What temperature should my CPU be? You find yourself desperately searching, pouring your heart and souls out onto forums, to be met with little or no responses.
You don’t know what to do and if a cool and safe PC and CPU are ever in your reach.
Well, wonder and worry no more! We are here today with all the answers you need! We will walk you through how hot your CPU should be, both when idling and under a lot of pressure, and show you how to determine safe temperatures for your CPU.
Let the days of hot CPUs and worried brows be nothing more than a memory. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about CPUs and their safe temperatures!
In a hurry? How hot should your CPU be?
For those of you in a rush today who just need to grab your answer and go, let’s look at how hot your CPU should be! Unfortunately, there is no one-answer-fits-all here that can determine if your CPU is too hot or not.
The normal temperatures for CPUs vary depending on the processor. For an accurate answer, it’s best to look at your CPU and find out what the ambient temperature should be.
You can sometimes find this information in the instruction manual, or you can squeeze in five minutes and continue reading this guide for more information!
Generally speaking, though, Intel processors with a CPU core temperature of hotter than 40 to 45 degrees celsius when idle and a temperature of 80 to 85 degrees celsius when under a full load of pressure are causes for concern. If your CPU is measuring at these temperatures, there might be an issue, and it’s worth investigating further.
For those with AMD processors, a temperature of 40-45 degrees celsius or over when your CPU is idle or over 70 degrees celsius when under a full load is a cause for concern. In these situations, it’s best to investigate and see if there is an underlying cause for these temperatures.
If your CPU hits these temperatures once or twice, it probably isn’t a call for concern. But if your CPU is regularly in these temperatures, it’s best to explore the issue further.
For more information on how to check your CPU temperature and better understand it, keep on reading! Remember that these are generalizations and more of a rough guide.
How to check your CPU temperature
Before we can determine if your CPU is running at a safe temperature or not, we first need a way to check your processor’s core temperature.
Luckily for you, there are a few different ways to do this, so you can find a method that suits you best! Let’s take a look at these options now.
You can check your CPUs core temperature through your motherboard’s BIOS. be aware that the reading on your BIOS will only give you the idle temperature and is unhelpful when you are stress-testing the system.
The temperature shown in your BIOS tends to be higher than the readings given when your PC is idling in Windows. This is because BIOS will boost your processor using a higher voltage level. It initializes the BIOS but does mean that your reading won’t be 100% accurate.
For better and more accurate readings of your CPU temperature, it’s best to use third-party software. You can get idle temperatures from these readings and under high loads to provide you with a better picture of what’s going on with your CPU.
There’s a range of third-party software that you can choose from to test your CPUs temperature. We do have favorites though, and the ones we would recommend to you are:
- Open Hardware Monitor
- Core Temp
Let’s take a closer look at these to help you select one that best suits your needs. Today we are just looking at the most popular option (and our favorite), Core Temp!
You can download Core Temp to check your processor’s temperature. The software is fairly easy to navigate, perfect for first-time users or more advanced PC builders. The software will show you the average temperature of your CPU and its reading at certain loads.
It allows you to see how hot your CPU is running when idle (about 5% load) when it is under pressure. You can run demanding games or a video or anything taxing to see how hot your CPU goes when it’s under pressure.
Core Temp is handy software to use to determine your CPUs average temperature and when under pressure and idling. However, if you want to see your temperature at 100% load, you will need to use a stress-test benchmark tool.
Thankfully, we have a handy stress-test tool that you can use! Prime95 is one of the best to use. We like using the SmallFFT test on Prime95 v26.6.
On the newer versions of Prime95, you push the processor past realistic levels of use and are not the best to determine whether your CPU temperatures are safe or not.
Thankfully, you can disable the feature that pushes your processor to the extreme. You need to add a line of code to a specific file in the program to do this.
While the most computer savvy (or software developers in the room), that’s an easy fix. But for others, not so much.
We find it easier to download an older version of Prime 95. You can run a stress test to see at full 100% load your CPU’s minimum and maximum temperature.
The test lets you view the temperature for each core and offers you an average, too, giving you plenty of information about your CPU temperature! Version 26.6 will get as close to a true 100% load as other CPU stress-test tools and is a personal favorite here.
From these temperatures, you can use them to check if your CPU is running at a safe temperature or not. Check them against the rough guidelines we gave you earlier, and you should be able to see if they are safe or not.
Before we dash off, though, there are a few things you need to consider before deeming the temperatures safe or not for your CPU. don’t worry; we will go through them all now!
What comes after knowing your CPU temperature?
Now we have the average temperatures of your CPU when running at idle and under load, you can check if these are normal temperatures or not. This is where it can get a little tricky. We gave you a rough number to use as a guide earlier, but as we mentioned, it isn’t 100%.
And Intel and AMD do not provide a specific temperature that they deem normal for your processor. It can be tricky to find out how hot or cool your CPU should be, and there is little help elsewhere on the internet too!
Part of the reason for this lack of information is that there are so many factors that determine what temperature your processor’s cores should run at. If there were one answer that fits all temperatures given by CPU manufacturers, it would probably cause more damage than good!
After all, we all build our computers differently and with different components, so giving one number doesn’t seem practical, does it?
The best way to figure out if your processor is running at a safe temperature is a good old comparison. Compare the temperatures you are getting with others who have similar PC setups to you.
Ideally, you want to speak to someone who has the same processor and similar setups or components to get a good comparison.
You can head to forum posts or check out videos on YouTube or other streaming sites. Reviews where people discuss their CPUs or their PCs’ temperatures can be a good place to start. Thankfully, you won’t be on your own when searching!
It might take a little while, and you might have to wade through many unhelpful or irrelevant forum posts, but you will always find fellow PC enthusiasts who will share their knowledge with you and help you determine if your temperatures are safe or not.
There is some good news, though. For Intel users, you are given a maximum operating temperature. Don’t worry; we will get on to this in a moment. The maximum operating temperature for your Intel processor will help you determine if your temperatures are getting too high or not.
Before we take a look at that, let’s explore some of the factors that can influence the temperatures of your CPU.
Factors to Consider
Let’s take a look at some of those factors that can impact your CPU temperature.
Different processors means different temperatures.
We’ve mentioned it throughout the article but will mention it here too. Different CPUs will run at different temperatures.
It’s not anything to be alarmed by; a lot of it is to do with how they are made, the pressure they are under, and their own cooling capabilities.
Typically, you can expect newer CPUs to run cooler (or they should) as they benefited from newer technologies when they were created! Either way, it’s best to avoid comparing CPU temperatures with other models.
Only compare CPU temperatures when they are the same model and if the PC it is in has a similar setup to yours. This is the best way to ensure you get an accurate temperature comparison that will be useful to you.
Ambient temperature matters
The next thing to consider is the ambient temperature or room temperature your PC is kept in. If your room temperature is quite high, that can force your processor’s temperature up too.
Think about it, if you feel warmer in a hot room, so will your CPU! Just like how your phone or laptop gets quite hot, if you use it outside on a sunny day, your CPU will be affected.
If your CPU is running quite hot, outside of the rough guidelines, or higher than your usual average, consider dropping the temperature in your room by a few degrees and seeing if it makes a difference.
Leave the room to cool for a few hours and test the CPU temperatures again; if there is a significant difference, then your room was too hot.
It can be hard to keep your room at an ambient temperature for your PC all year round, but investing in a room fan or ensuring it’s well-ventilated throughout the day can go a long way to helping keep your CPU at the correct temperature.
But this isn’t the only reason your CPU temperatures could be getting higher or lower than other CPUs. Keep reading to see what else could be causing higher or lower than normal temperatures.
Your cooler is important.
The CPU cooler that you are using plays a vital role in regulating the temperature of your CPU. You must use the best one you can get your hands on to ensure that the CPU doesn’t get too hot or too cold.
Be sure to find the best you can for your budget, and check our reviews and tutorials if you aren’t sure what you need.
It can be worth purchasing your CPU cooler rather than using the stock cooler your CPU came with if it’s not that good. Changing it out can help to lower higher temperatures and keep your CPU running smoothly.
It’s worth taking a look at your cooling system and seeing whether changes can be made.
For example, we see the coolest temperatures in water-based systems, which can be useful for powerful processors.
When debating updating your cooling system, it’s always best to weigh up the cost and all possible benefits and issues to ensure you make the right choice for yourself.
Paste matters too
Just as your cooling system is relevant, so is your thermal paste. Stock thermal paste generally isn’t as good as others on the market.
It won’t give you as good a heat transfer as other high-end thermal compounds, meaning that your CPU will produce higher temperatures.
When comparing temperatures with others with the same CPU as you, it’s worth considering the cooling system they have in place and the quality of the thermal paste used. These will cause slightly different temperatures and are a factor worth exploring to ensure your CPU is at a safe temperature.
Higher airflow means better temperatures.
It’s also worth considering the amount of airflow you are getting in your PC case, as this can impact the temperature in the PC and your CPU temperature.
Temperature differences between the same processor can often be attributed to the amount of air over their processor.
If your CPU is running hotter than others with the same CPU as you, consider the setup in your PC case. Is there a way for you to increase the airflow and, as a result, lower the temperatures?
Overclocking will make it hotter.
We all want good speeds, and overclocking is a fantastic way to achieve this. But the reality is, overclocking produces more heat and will raise the temperature of your CPU.
For those that need a little refresh, overclocking sets your CPU to run faster than its stock settings. And the faster you run your CPU, the hotter it will get!
Those who overclock regularly will know that your PC needs fantastic cooling to offset the extra heat. It might mean some loud fans, though, so consider that before making your cooling system decision.
If you have overclocked your CPU, you will need to keep that in mind when looking at your CPU temperatures. They are bound to be higher than other CPUs that don’t go beyond their stock settings. It would be unfair to compare an overclocked CPU with one that isn’t, as there is bound to be a difference in temperatures.
How hot is too hot?
Now that we have looked at factors that can influence your CPU temperatures let’s take a look at determining when your CPU is too hot.
The factors mentioned can vary, and it might be one, two, or all of them that influence the temperature of your CPU. consider them all, especially when comparing with others.
But for now, let’s look at determining if your CPU is too hot! For those with Intel CPUs, this is a fairly easy task. Intel provides maximum operating temperatures on their website for their CPUs. You can check them out and check if yours is running hotter than it should be.
The information is sometimes provided on their product descriptions and user manuals, too, so you can find it with ease.
For those with AMD processors, finding out what the maximum operating temperature is can be more difficult.
Here, it’s best to do your research and see what others with the same processor and similar setups are getting. It’s the best way to determine it at the moment, but who knows what the future holds for CPU temperatures?
While it can be frustrating for AMD users, those with Intel processors can enjoy a number to work with. Let’s take a closer look at Intel’s maximum operating temperatures to get you the advice you need.
Max Temperature (TJ Max)
Intel defines its maximum operating temperature, or TJunction (TJ Max), as “the maximum temperature allowed at the processor die.”
Most modern processors hit their TJunction (TJ Max), or maximum temperature, the CPU will throttle and slow down. It does this to prevent the chip from exceeding the maximum temperature, and potentially causing damage.
Until the processor hits the maximum temperature, it will mostly run as expected. You might notice a different level of performance if your CPU runs close to its TJ Max for extended periods, for example, during intense gameplay.
Generally, if your processor is running close to its maximum temperature, it’s fine for now. Over time, it will wear down faster, meaning you will need to replace it sooner than you usually would.
For the short term, though, you will not blow the system up or cause any damage if your CPU runs close to its maximum operating temperature.
However, there’s always a, however, isn’t there? If you consistently run your CPU near its maximum operating temperature under load, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
It is worth looking and seeing if there is an issue causing your CPU to work hard and run up these hot temperatures.
The good thing about Intel processors is that they have a clearly defined maximum operating temperature on their website. You don’t need to fiddle with idle and under-load temperatures; simply head to the website and see your number!
It’s fantastic for those who like a concrete number to work with, and it can be found easily. Simply head to the website, and check out your CPU specification. The maximum operating temperature is listed there.
What about AMD’s processors?
As we mentioned before, those with an AMD processor won’t have a maximum operating temperature set out by their manufacturer. Instead, you have forums full of others comparing their temperatures and sharing advice.
It’s worth looking at these, of course, to see the range of temperatures listed. These are quite general but can help you identify if your CPU is running too high. If it is, you can make the necessary adjustments using the tips we laid out earlier.
If your CPU is constantly running at the top end of this temperature range, it could indicate an issue, and we would recommend exploring it further.
How to fix high CPU temperatures
We have touched on ways to improve your processor’s temperature earlier, showing you all the factors that can influence it. But what kind of guide would we be if we let you go today without a handy list to follow?
The following list is full of ways that you can improve your CPU operating temperatures! Choose one, or work through them all and see if your high temperatures lower!
- Re-install your CPU cooler
- Buy a better CPU cooler
- Use a better thermal paste
- Buy a better case
- Reconfigure your case fans to create better airflow
- Add more case fans
- Give your computer a good clean
- Delid your CPU – we recommend this for high overclockers.
In most cases, one or a few of these ideas can help reduce the temperature in your CPU. be sure that you do your research before making any purchases, and check that they are compatible with your CPU.
These can be pricey when it comes to cooling systems, so be sure you have found a good one before parting with your cash!
It’s often worth checking out tutorials or reviews from other people with your CPU to see how they manage to keep them cool!
And for those with laptops that are concerned about CPUs, unfortunately, your options are limited. It’s always worth seeing if a good clean will lower the temperature and that your fans are in working order before you part with your cash, though! You can get a laptop cooler or a new laptop.
And just like that, we have come to the end of this hefty guide today! As you can see, there are many reasons why your CPU is running hot and lots of solutions to reducing the temperature. Remember to try one or a couple of these solutions to see if there is an improvement!
We don’t need to fork out thousands to get our CPUs running as cool as possible for most of us. Yes, they work better at cooler temperatures, but unless you are overclocking your CPU, opting for a high-end cooler or lowering your room’s temperature can sometimes be all you need to do!
Especially as most of us upgrade our processors in 4-5 years, are we really going to feel the benefit of a top-of-the-line cooling system? It’s only worth exploring if you are doing some serious overclocking or have alarmingly high CPU temperatures.
For those of us that are a degree or two above average, it isn’t worth getting worried about. Use the tools we have suggested to check out your CPU’s temperatures and make the necessary adjustments from there.
We say, don’t sweat over it until the temperature makes you sweat!