Is your computer’s CPU too hot? If your computer spontaneously shuts down, unlocks or acts sluggishly during intense tasks, overheating can be the problem. Keeping track of your CPU temperatures is crucial when overclocking your computer’s processor as well – you do not want to accidentally press the performance pedal too far to the metal when charging your expensive Core i9-10900K.
Bizarrely, Windows offers no way to control your computer’s CPU temperature. You can dive into the system BIOS to find the information, but it is very difficult to find a simple sensor reading. Fortunately, there are several free programs that make it easy to see the processor̵7;s temperature.
Editor’s note: We’ve updated this article to include modern processors and updated cooling hardware recommendations.
How to control your CPU temperature
The fastest, easiest way to control your CPU temp is to use the appropriate name Core Temp. However, be careful during installation! Like many freeware programs, it tries to install bloatware unless you uncheck certain boxes during installation.
After installing, open Core Temp to see a no-frills look at the current state of the CPU, including an average temperature reading at the bottom of the window. For even more details, click Show hidden icons button in the system tray at the far right of the Windows taskbar. You will see a temperature list for each individual CPU core on your computer.
With the Core Temps settings menu, you can adjust exactly what you see in the system tray and how you see it, but the standard configuration makes it dead-easy to see if your CPU overheats or works as expected.
However, Core Temp is not the only option. HWInfo is an in-depth system monitoring tool that provides in-depth details about all parts of your computer’s hardware. If you choose to run it in sensor mode, scroll down to the CPU section – the dedicated section, not CPU temperature section on the motherboard list – reveals current temps and other nitty-gritty details.
NZXT’s Cam software is another popular option with a multiple skillset. The narrow interface is easier to read at a glance than those of most other monitoring tools, and the program displays all sorts of useful information about your CPU, graphics card, memory and storage. Cam also includes an FPS overlay and overclocking tool in the game, among other features. You can use NZXT’s Cam mobile apps to keep track of your software when you’m away from your PC as well.
Open Hardware Monitor and SpeedFan are other reputable monitoring tools that can track system information. You have options! But to simply control the computer’s CPU temperatures, Core Temp’s simple focus cannot be beat.
Finally, note that if you run an AMD Ryzen system, including third-gen models like the fierce Ryzen 9 3900X or the more modest Ryzen 5 3600X that we crowned as the best gaming processor for most, you may see two different CPU temperature readings. You want to read “Tdie”, depending on how the program you use displays the information. It is a measure of the actual heat on the cushion. The alternate “Tctl” reading is the control temperature reported to your cooling system and sometimes includes a temperature shift to ensure universal fan speed behavior between the various Ryzen chips. Some of the programs above that list a single temperature account for offset already.
What is the best temp for your CPU?
The maximum supported temperature varies from processor to processor. Most of the free monitoring software mentioned above lists the information as “Tj. Max. ” It stands for the temperature crossing or the hardware’s highest operating temperature. If for any reason you do not see the information, search the CPU World website for your CPU model number to find the information. Each program listed above shows the processor model number, so it’s easy to find.
But that’s it maximum temperature – the point where your processor sneaks out and shuts down to avoid damage. Driving anywhere near the hot on a regular basis is bad for the long life of the hardware. Instead, follow this general rule of thumb regarding CPU temperatures under load.
- Below 60 ° C: You run well!
- 60 ° C to 70 ° C: Still going well, but getting a little warmer. Consider cleaning the dust from your computer if CPU temperatures continue to creep up over time.
- 70 ° C to 80 ° C: This is hotter than you want to drive if you do not press an overclock. If you are not, definitely check that your fans are working and that there are no dust rabbits blocking the system’s airflow.
- 80 ° C to 90 ° C: Now we get too hot for long-term comfort. Check the hardware for broken fans or dust buildup, and if you overclock, call back your settings – especially the voltage if you have adjusted it. A notable exception: We sometimes see more powerful portable processors hit the low 80s during gaming sessions when connected, at which point they begin to play back performance. This is expected, but if temperatures above 85 ° C, worry.
- Above 90 ° C: Fara, Will Robinson!
How to lower your CPU temperatures
If you regularly encounter high CPU temperatures, there are a few steps you can take to try to resolve the issue.
First, clean your computer. High CPU temperatures are often caused by years of dust and dirt built up inside a computer, clogging fans and crucial airways. Local hardware retailers usually charge outrageous prices for canned air, but you can pick up a bottle for about $ 8 at Amazon. PCWorld’s guide on how to clean your computer can guide you through the process. Make sure all your fans are working properly and that none of the vents on your computer are blocked while you are on it.
Hopefully that solves the problem. If not, more intense steps are in order. The thermal paste that transfers heat from your CPU to its cooler may have dried out if you have had your PC for a few years. It can cause temperature spikes.
Removing the old thermal paste with rubbing alcohol and applying fresh stock can potentially help lower the temperature by a large amount. You can find small syringes with thermal paste from respected brands like Arctic and Noctua for under $ 10 on Amazon. (I have been a happy Arctic Silver 5 user for several years now.)
I’m falling that it does not help, your cooling solution may simply not be able to keep up with your CPU’s heat output, especially if you pair a storage cooler or a modest third-party cooler with higher chips – and twice as much if you ‘re overclocking. Buying a new CPU cooler may be in order.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 ($ 35 on Amazon) is a solid, affordable air cooler. With its larger heat sink and fan, it is a strong step up over AMD and Intel CPU coolers. Growing up in size and price, the Noctua NH-D14 ($ 75 on Amazon) is one of the most efficient air coolers to ever hit the streets, but its large size can block memory access or not even fit in smaller cases.
Closed-loop liquid cooling solutions (CLC) provide much cooler temperatures than air coolers with minimal hassle and easy installation. EVGA’s 120mm unit ($ 55 on Amazon) is a good starting CLC, but if you plan on overclocking, you might consider going up to a model with a larger 240mm radiator, like the straight name EVGA CLC 240 ($ 105 on Amazon ). All the extra metal and fans also hold hard overclocking. Several brands are available, but we have used EVGA’s closed loop cooler in PCWorld’s powerful, dedicated graphics card testing system for fantastic results.