Keeping an eye on your CPU temperature: 12 steps (with pictures)

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Keeping an eye on your CPU temperature: 12 steps (with pictures)
Keeping an eye on your CPU temperature: 12 steps (with pictures)

Too much heat is one of a computer's worst enemies. Heat management is essential for keeping your computer healthy. If your computer gets too hot, errors can occur, the machine slows down and the computer can suddenly shut down. One of the most essential parts of your PC is its processor (CPU), so you want to make sure it's cool enough. Follow the guide below to monitor your CPU temperature.


Part 1 of 3: Using your BIOS

Monitor CPU Temperature Step 1

Step 1. Restart your computer

The BIOS is a menu that allows you to change your computer's default settings. Most BIOS interfaces have a built-in hardware monitor, which you can use to check the temperature. You can get to the BIOS at the beginning of your computer's boot.

If you're running Windows 8, open the Power menu and hold down Shift while clicking Restart. This will take you to Advanced Startup Mode, where you can access the Motherboard Settings (UEFI) in the Troubleshooting menu

Monitor CPU Temperature Step 2

Step 2. Press the BIOS key

this varies by hardware manufacturer. Typical keys for this are F2, F10 and Del. The correct button will be displayed on the same screen as the manufacturer's logo.

If you don't press this key in time, your computer will boot as normal and you'll have to try again

Monitor CPU Temperature Step 3

Step 3. Search for the Hardware Monitor

Each BIOS program uses different terms. Some of the more common terms are H/W Monitor, Status, PC Health, etc.

Monitor CPU Temperature Step 4

Step 4. Check your CPU temperature

The temperature limit of a CPU depends on the model, but usually the temperature should stay below 75°C (167°F). Consult your CPU documentation to find out the exact temperature limit.

Check the other temperatures. While checking the CPU temperature, take a look at how the rest of the system is running. Most hardware monitors can also tell you the temperature of the motherboard, graphics card and possibly the ambient temperature inside the case

Part 2 of 3: Use a program

Monitor CPU Temperature Step 5

Step 1. Install a hardware monitoring program

Most motherboards come with their own hardware monitoring program, or are available on their websites. You can also download freeware programs that read and display the BIOS temperature data. Popular programs are:

  • Open Hardware Monitor
  • speed fan.
  • Core Temp
  • HWMonitor
  • Real Temp
Monitor CPU Temperature Step 6

Step 2. Run the program

Once you have downloaded/installed the program of your choice, run it to get an overview of the temperature of your computer. Most programs will display all available temperature data along with fan speed and voltages. Put all this information next to what is recommended in your system's documentation.

Some programs require special access to your computer's settings in order to work, and ask you for permission to continue before they can do their job

Part 3 of 3: Lowering your CPU's temperature


Step 1. Make sure your computer can ventilate

Make sure none of the fans are blocked. Open your computer and clean it from dust using compressed air. If no airflow can pass your components, the heat will gradually build up.


Step 2. Apply new thermal paste

Thermal paste is what conducts heat from your CPU to the heatsink. Over time, this paste will begin to disintegrate. Opinions are divided on how often this paste should be replaced, but if you find that temperatures are higher than normal, that's the easiest place to start.

Don't use too much of the thermal paste, as too much can actually insulate the CPU rather than dissipate the heat. A small drop evenly distributed over the CPU is the most effective way to use it


Step 3. Replace your heatsink

If your CPU keeps overheating, your current heatsink and fan may no longer be able to handle their job. Find a new heatsink/fan combo that fits in your case and can move more air than the existing setup. Larger fans can cause more noise.


Step 4. Put more fans in your closet

If there isn't enough air flowing through your cabinet, you may need to add more fans to get the air moving. Fresh air should be brought in from the top and the front, and blown out at the back.


Step 5. Replace your hardware

Older components tend to get too hot after long use, and sometimes there's no option but to replace them. If you need to replace the motherboard or CPU, you can also consider building a completely new system, as you will have to reinstall everything anyway.

Underclock a PC Step 3

Step 6. Underclock your CPU

The speed at which your CPU is running is limited, so that the temperature does not rise too much. Underclocking your PC slows down your PC, but extends the life of your PC, makes your computer less hot and reduces consumption, improves stability and reduces noise from mechanical parts.

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