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Safe CPU Temps: How Hot Should My CPU Be? Guide – [2021]

Safe CPU Temps: How Hot Should My CPU Be? Guide – [2021]

It doesn’t matter if you just started It is soou can build your own computer, or you’ve got an older system that you want to check up on, it is always a good idea to monitor you CPU’s temperature…

Monitoring your processor’s temperature will not help you if you don’t know what temperature it should be running at. We will show you how to check your processor’s default temperature range in this guide. Our team will also help you determine how hot your CPU should run.  

Ultimately, every processor is built to operate at slightly different temperatures. Moreover, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining normal CPU temperature ranges.

If you are looking for a quick answer, we have attempted to give you a one-size-fits-all answer below. However, you should know that this will never be an accurate way to determine whether or not your CPU temperature is excessive.)

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After reading this guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of safe CPU temps. You’ll also learn how to determine whether your processor is operating at the right temperature.

The Quick Answer – Are Your CPU Temps too High?

Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not your CPU temperatures are too high. “Normal” CPU temperatures will vary quite a bit depending on the processor. It would be beneficial for you to read this guide in its entirety to gain a deeper understanding of how to properly check and see what temperature your CPU (or, rather, your CPU’s cores) should be running at.

Nevertheless, as a generalization that might help you identify a serious problem, if you have an Intel processor, you could say that a temperature of over 40-45 degrees Celsius while idle and over 85-95 degrees Celsius while under full load is probably a cause for concern.

A CPU core temperature of over 40-45 degrees Celsius while idle and/or a temperature of over 85-95 degrees (depending on the AMD Ryzen generation) when under load is probably cause for concern with an AMD Ryzen processor.

As a result, if your CPU is hitting those temperatures on a regular basis, you will likely want to look into the problem further and find out what is going on.

This is again a generalization. It’s probably not the best way to determine if your temperatures are appropriate. Keep reading this guide if you want to learn how to check and understand whether or not your processor’s temperatures are acceptable.

How to Check Your CPU’s Temperature

Prior to being able to determine whether or not you are receiving safe CPU temperatures, you will need a way of checking the actual temperature of your processor’s cores.

There are several ways to accomplish this.

Your motherboard’s BIOS allows you to check the CPU core temperature directly. This reading will only give you the idle CPU temperature and will not help you when stress testing your system. Your BIOS temperature will always be a bit higher than what it will be when Windows is idle, because BIOS will always boot your processor using higher voltage levels to ensure that it will initialize properly.

You should use third-party software to get a better idea of the temperature range that your processor runs at (both when idle and when under load).

  You can find several programs that will monitor your CPU temperature (and some will monitor the temperature of other components, too.)  

Check CPU Temp with Core Temp

As you can see, I have a lot Core i7-8700K from Intel This is a six-core CPU. Core Temp displays the temperature on each of the six cores. This screen shot shows my processor’s cores running at an average temperature of 31 degrees Celsius at the time of taking it.

CoreTemp-Scr2

And, since Core Temp also shows me what the processor’s load is, I can tell that these temperature readings are coming from when the CPU is idling (the screenshot shows that my CPU is at less than 5% load, which means it is “idle”.)

As a result, my temperature is idling at about 30 degrees Celsius.

You can play a demanding game (such as PUBG, or Battlefield 1), or render a video, or do something else taxing to find out what my temperature is under heavier load. However, to ensure a proper 100% load on your processor, you should use a stress-test benchmark tool.  

Using Prime95 to Stress-Test

Stress-testing tools are widely available, and there is a lot of discussion on which one is the best. Prime95 v26.6 is the version I use for the SmallFFT test. In modern versions of Prime95, the SmallFFT test will actually push your processor past realistic levels and, therefore, is not a reliable method for determining whether or not your CPU temperatures are safe.

The feature that causes the test to push your processor to the extreme can be disabled by adding a line of code to a specific file in the program, but for me–and likely for others–it’s easier to just download the older version.

According to the general consensus, Prime95 v.26.6 gets about as close to a true 100% load as any CPU stress-test tool. That’s what I use.

Using Prime95’s (v26.6) SmallFFTs stress-test to put my system under full load, I have the following temperatures:

You can see that my CPU’s cores are running at about 77 degrees Celsius under 100% load.

CoreTemp-Under-Load-P95-26-6

Having these numbers, how do I determine if 30-degrees Celsius while idling and 77-degrees Celsius under full load is a good range for my processor’s temperature?

While I can tell you that those CPU temperatures (at stock settings and with the cooler I have) are generally safe, I had to consider a few things first before declaring that those are CPU temperatures I can live with.

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

The first step is to determine your processor’s average temperatures at idle and under load. Once you have those temperatures, you can then determine if they are normal.

However, Intel and AMD do not specify what temperatures are considered normal for your processor. You won’t find that information outright anywhere on the web either.

The reason is that there are many factors that determine what temperature your processor’s cores should run at. A CPU manufacturer suggesting a one-size-fits-all operating temperature would do more harm than good.

One of the only ways that you can get a good idea of what your CPU temperatures should be is by comparing the temperatures you get with other users who have a similar processor and setup. Checking forums, or reading/watching reviews on the processor you own can be helpful.

Since there are so many enthusiasts out there, there is likely enough information available for you to figure out what temperature your CPU’s cores should be running at for various workloads.

Intel does provide a maximum operating temperature, which we will discuss shortly. Additionally, if you have an Intel processor, you can use the maximum operating temperature to determine whether your temperatures are approaching (or reaching) a level that is definitely too high.

Let’s take a moment to look at some of the factors that will determine what temperature your processor’s cores should be running at.

1. Optimal CPU Temps Will Vary Depending on the Processor You Have

At idle and under load, an Intel Core i7-11700K will run at different temperatures than an older Intel Core i3-7100.

AMD Ryzen 9 5900X will run at different temperatures than AMD Ryzen 3 3100 at idle and under load.

In an old laptop, the i7-3720QM processor will run at a different temperature than a desktop processor, or than a newer Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor.

Many processors run at different temperatures, either by a slight difference in amount, or by a significant difference in temperature.

Therefore, the first thing you need to understand is that you shouldn’t compare the temperatures you’re getting with those of others who have completely different processors.

2. You Must Take Ambient Temperature Into Consideration…

Let’s imagine that you just built a new computer with an i7-11700K and you started it up and saw the processor idling at 33 degrees Celsius. “Well, that’s okay, since I saw someone’s benchmark on YouTube where they ran their 11700K at about 30 degrees Celsius. Why is my processor running 3 degrees Celsius faster than theirs?”

Well, it’s possible that the room temperature where your computer is operating is higher than the room temperature where the benchmark was run. Due to the difference in room temperature, your processor runs at a higher temperature than the benchmarked processor.

Make sure you factor in the room temperature your computer is operating in before you freak out.

This is especially true if you’re going to begin Googling what temperatures other people get their processors to run at. If you stumble upon a forum where someone claims they are getting lower temperatures than you are, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Perhaps that person has their computer in a cooler room than yours.

I’d guess that most people run their computers in rooms where the temperature is between 21-22 degrees Celsius. Others will prefer rooms that are much colder or warmer, depending on their preferences.

The ambient temperature (or room temperature) is an extremely important factor to consider when determining whether or not your CPU temperatures are excessive.

You could also be getting higher or lower CPU temperatures for a number of other reasons. Another reason could be that you or they are using a better CPU cooler and/or thermal paste.  

3. The Better Your CPU Cooler, the Better Your CPU Temps

I am currently using a 360mm AIO cooler. Since my cooler is much better than the stock cooler that came with my processor, I expect to see lower CPU temperatures from my system than someone else using the stock cooler will.

However, there are also system builders out there who have the i7-8700K running under a custom loop water cooling setup. They will be getting lower temperatures than I am.

Therefore, before you determine whether or not your temperatures are appropriate, you need to consider what CPU cooler you have.

The same is true for the thermal paste you are using. In general, the stock thermal paste that comes with Intel’s stock coolers will not transfer heat as well as a high-end thermal compound will, leading to higher CPU temperatures.

Be sure that you consider the cooler you are using and the quality of the thermal paste that you have used when you compare your temperatures with those of others who have the same processor as you.

4. A Better Case With Higher Airflow Will Mean Better CPU Temps

You should also consider how much airflow you are getting in your case when determining whether your temperatures are appropriate.

If you have the same processor and CPU cooler combination as someone else, but they have a better case that pushes more air over their processor, you may have higher CPU temperatures.

So, if someone is posting that they are getting better temperatures than you, make sure you are considering the possibility that their setup allows for more airflow (and, consequently, lower temperatures).

5. Overclocking is Going to Produce Higher Temperatures

You should also consider overclocking when determining your processor’s temperatures.

Overclocking refers to setting your CPU to run faster than it does at stock settings. However, the faster you run it, the hotter it gets.

The extra heat can be offset by better cooling.

If you have overclocked your processor, however, you need to keep your CPU temperatures in mind. You won’t want to compare the temperatures of your overclocked CPU with those of someone else who has the same CPU running at stock speeds.

Max CPU Temperatures – How Hot is Too Hot

I’ve basically run you through the gauntlet of a number of things to consider if you are monitoring your processor’s temperatures.

That was a bit more information than you were looking for. With that in mind, let’s take a step back and see if your CPU is running extremely hot.

Intel provides the maximum operating temperatures of their processors on their website, so you can easily figure that out if you have an Intel processor.

It is harder to determine what the maximum operating temperature is for AMD processors. In that case, you need to search and see what others are getting.

However, let’s take a look at Intel’s maximum operating temperatures for some more insight into this topic.

TJunction (TJ Max) or Max Temperature

When most modern processors reach their TJunction (TJ Max) or maximum temperature, the CPU will throttle and slow down so as to prevent the chip from exceeding that maximum temperature.

Generally, until the processor reaches that maximum temperature, it will run as expected (unless it operates close to its TJ Max for extended periods of time.)

If your processor is running close to its maximum allowed operating temperature, it is fine for the time being. In the long run, it will wear out faster, but in the short term, you won’t blow your processor (and your system) up if it is close to its maximum temperature.

If your processor is consistently running close to its maximum operating temperature while under load, that may indicate a problem.

As opposed to determining a processor’s ideal idle or under-load temperatures, Intel processors have a clearly defined maximum operating temperature that can be found on its website.

Those of you who have an Intel CPU now have a concrete number to work with.

Go to the manufacturer’s website and check your CPU’s specification sheet to find out what its maximum operating temperature is.

The TJunction (TJ Max) of my i7-8700K is 100 degrees Celsius. As long as my processor stays below 100 degrees Celsius, I should be fine for the short term.

However, for the health of my processor and my system, I would prefer that my processor runs at temperatures far below that number.

While getting close to that number may be okay in a one-time situation, constantly operating close to it is going to shorten the life of your processor.

The easiest way to tell if your Intel CPU is running too hot is to monitor how close it runs to the maximum operating temperature when it’s under load.

TJunction

The more often it runs at the maximum operating temperature (on a consistent basis), the more cause for concern you should have. In addition, if the temperature is consistently close to TJ Max, there is likely something wrong (such as an incorrectly installed CPU cooler, poor air flow, or old thermal paste).

AMD’s Max Temps Aren’t Specificated

If you have an AMD processor, what should you do? How can you determine if it’s operating at too high a temperature?

AMD doesn’t provide a specific maximum operating temperature for its processors. Try searching for ‘Ryzen 5 5900X max temp’ to see what I mean.

There are people guessing what these processors’ maximum temperatures are, and nobody really knows for certain what number AMD CPUs will begin to throttle at.

Generally, AMD processors throttle at a certain temperature range. Once you’ve Googled that range (you’ll need to look through reviews and forum posts to see what other people are seeing), you can use it the same way you would Intel’s TJ Max specification.

There might be something wrong if your AMD CPU is consistently operating at temperatures near that maximum range.

How to Fix High CPU Temps

Several ways have already been discussed to improve the temperature of your processor. We discussed the different factors that influence the temperatures of your processor’s cores.

I will give you a brief list of ways that you can improve the temperature of your CPU, along with some resources…

Wrapping it Up: What Having ‘Good CPU Temps’ Really Means…

I would like to conclude by saying…

Most users won’t need to push their processor to operate at extremely low temperatures.

Yes, the cooler your processor’s cores run, the better.

A really good CPU core temperature is most important when you want to overclock your processor. The cooler you can make your processor run, the higher you can overclock it.

As long as your processor runs at an average (or even slightly above average) temperature while under load when you don’t plan to overclock it, you’re fine.

However, you might not get as many years from your system as someone who uses better cooling. Nevertheless, since you will probably upgrade your system within 4-5 years, you won’t miss the additional lifespan that better cooling provides.

This means, for example, that if you are freaked out because your i7-11700K is running at 70 degrees Celsius when playing PUBG, but Joe Bob’s CPU is at 65 degrees Celsius, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your PC.

Joe Bob the extreme PC builder has simply taken their cooling to the extreme. Your “normal” temperature only appears hot in comparison, when, in fact, it is fine.

See: Best Laptop For Beginners in [2021]

In summary, you shouldn’t worry if your CPU’s core temperatures aren’t extremely low. You should only freak out if your CPU’s core temperature is extremely high. By the end of this guide, I think you’ll have a better idea of how to accomplish that.


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