Computer too hot? This is how you prevent your PC from overheating


Illustration of an EVGA RTX 3090 video card in a blaze.

Most computers get warm after a while. That’s because of the way the PC cools itself. But sometimes the temperature of the processor can be extremely high. This can cause the PC to slow down, crash and in the long run it is possible for the processor to literally destroy itself. How do you monitor the temperature of your computer’s heart and solve overheating?

The brain of your computer is the CPU. The central processing unit performs the calculations to run programs and control hardware. The more tasks the processor can perform per second, the faster the computer is. It’s good that you check the temperature every now and then, but this provides very little reliable information. To get an accurate picture of the condition of your PC, you need to monitor the CPU over a longer period of time. This is especially important when performing long and intensive tasks, such as playing heavy games or video rendering. Also, never put your laptop in direct sunlight and use a temperature monitoring program.

How warm is hot?

The normal operating temperature of a CPU depends on the device and its type. Under ordinary circumstances, even when playing a video game, we are talking about 40 to 65 degrees. With a powerful laptop, the temperature can rise to 75 degrees, due to the tight space and limited cooling options.

When you kick the processor on its tail, the temperature can rise to 80 degrees. That’s not alarming, as long as it doesn’t take too long. If the temperature of the CPU continues to rise to 90 degrees and more, you risk damaging the chip and should take steps to reduce the load on the processor.

Gamers know that long gaming sessions also put a strain on the graphics processor GPU (graphics processing unit). This user group therefore also likes to keep an eye on the temperature of that unit.

These are CPU core temperatures to worry about.

Danger Threshold

If you want to know what the maximum temperature of the processor in your machine is, then you obviously need to know the type of CPU. click on Start and type in the search box To carry out. In this window, type msinfo32 and then the . appears System Information. You will then find detailed information about the processor of your computer on the right-hand side. Note the type and use Google to consult the product page of your specific CPU.

To find the maximum temperature for the processor, look at the value at Maximum operating temperature or T Junction, TJ Max or TCase Bee Package Specifications. This number is the absolute limit before problems arise. The rule of thumb is to always stay 20 to 30 degrees below this danger threshold. Of course there can be outliers, but if your PC stays below this limit for the most part, there is no problem. We want to reassure laptop users. You don’t have to worry about it until the temperature reaches 90 degrees.

The maximum operating temperature here is 72 degrees.

Thermal throttling

At a temperature of 90 degrees or higher, it is possible that the CPU itself switches back to prevent even more heat from being released and that the CPU is self-destructing. As a result, a 3 GHz processor will protect itself by switching back to, for example, 800 MHz, causing a significant drop in performance.

This downshifting is called throttling or throttling. Actually, this underclocking is the opposite of overclocking. There are even processors that turn themselves off to prevent permanent damage. In laptops in particular, thermal throttling is a known cause of underperformance.

In CPU throttling, processor performance takes a dive to prevent overheating.

Read temperature

The computer contains temperature sensors that read how hot the hardware elements get. Of course there is such a sensor with the processor. The measured values ​​are listed in the UEFI or the BIOS, but it makes no sense to go to the EUFI or the BIOS, because that will close the processes. You can also measure these values ​​with some small third-party tools.

For Windows is speccy a great diagnostic tool that lists all the specifications about your computer, including the CPU temperature. This is also interesting to dig up information from the system. Remember this tool if you need information about your operating system or motherboard, for example.

Also with MSI Afterburner monitor the cpu and gpu temperatures. This is actually also an overclocking tool. Mac users monitor cpu/gpu temperature with widget fanny.

Speccy is free and tells all the details about your configuration.

Matte, standard and blowing

If the temperature of your laptop regularly rises, you can buy a special mat or a standard that prevents heating for a few tens of euros. Fans attract dust, chances are this thing has collected dirt and dust between the blades by now. In the trade you buy a can of compressed air to blow this gunk away. This is especially recommended for a desktop computer, because it often has several fans. If you dare to detach the back of the laptop, you can also use the bus to blow the dust out of the fan.

Blow clean not only the fan, but also the vents.

Energy Settings

To make the processor slow down a bit, go to Institutions. There you choose System / Power Management and sleep mode. About in the middle you will find the button Additional power settings. click on Change schedule settings next to the power plan that is currently active.

In the next window select Change advanced power settings. In this window you scroll to Processor power management and you click the plus sign to expand the menu. At maximum Processor status do you change the 100% in 80%. Also check here immediately whether the setting is System Cooling Policy on Active stands.

You can run the processor at full power less.

View the processes

To find out what causes an overheated CPU, look at the processes running on your machine. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to go to task manager and see if you notice abnormal cpu usage. If you click on the column Processor click, the processes will be ranked according to the percentage by which they load the processor.

If you are in the tab Processes sees that a certain process is using a lot of cpu, you have found the goblin. Be sure to check that there are no suspicious processes running, as malware can also be the cause of excessive processor usage.

Check that there are no abnormal processes running.

undervolt

The CPU can be prone to overheating if it is poorly ventilated or if the thermal paste on the processor is worn out. There is a way to reduce the high temperatures and power consumption through a process called undervolting. Simply put, undervolting decreases the voltage applied to the CPU.

The more power, the hotter the CPU gets. The less power, the cooler. An added benefit of undervolting for laptop users is that the battery lasts longer. The beauty is that this technique has no noticeable impact on performance, even in high-intensity activities. Is there no disadvantage then? Yes, although this process does not damage the CPU, excessive undervolting can make the system unstable. But it’s easy to roll back.

ThrottleStop

ThrottleStop is a lightweight undervolting tool that allows you to underload the CPU to lower the temperature and prevent throttling. In addition, you can use this app as a CPU monitor with which you can read the individual core temperature.

Or even more convenient, you can show the CPU temperature in the system tray of the PC. Click on the button for this Options at the bottom and in the middle check the box CPU Temp at. When ThrottleStop is active, a small number in the notification area of ​​the taskbar indicates the CPU temperature.

Throttlestop is a tool (in beta stage) with a lot of possibilities. We highlight some basic functions. At the top left you see four dots. Switches between four profiles: Performance, game, internet, battery. By the way, you’ll quickly lose that left pane, but you can get it back by clicking the PKG Power to click.

To create a profile for e.g. game to capture, select this button and then click FIVR (Fully Integrated Voltage Regulators). In this window, check the box Unlock Adjustable Voltage at. Then use the slider to decrease the undervolt part Offset Voltage. Don’t drag the slider all the way to the left, but start with 100 millivolts. Then click on CPU Cache in the section FIVR Control and set it to the same voltage. It’s important that CPU Core and CPU Cache always the same Offset Voltage to have.

The CPU temperature appears in yellow in the system tray.

to the limit

Once you’ve made those two settings, click Apply and see if the system remains stable. Also keep an eye on the CPU temperatures. In principle, you can continue to lower the CPU cache and CPU core voltage in increments of -10 millivolts, further lowering the CPU temperature. When you get to the point where the system crashes, restart the PC, open ThrottleStop and bring the offset voltage back to the point where the system was stable. Usually you can go to -150 millivolts without any problems.

Once you are done with the adjustments, click OK in the FIVR Control Panel and then click Turn On in the main ThrottleStop window. To disable underclocking, simply close the program or press the Zero Offset to use. If you want to avoid having to manually open ThrottleStop every time, you can set the program to run when booting windows.

You need to enable the profile in ThrottleStop.

Stop overclocking

Some users increase the CPU speed through the BIOS to improve the computer’s performance. Unfortunately, overclocking causes more heat development of the CPU. You can compensate for this hardware with an extra heat sink or a CPU cooler.

A CPU cooler draws the heat to the base plate or the heat pipes. The energy goes from gas to liquid via the condenser and cools down via the cooling fins and the fan. The cooled liquid goes back through the evaporator so that it can be used again. If you regularly overclock with a substandard cooling system, the CPU will overheat.

If you regularly overclock, then a liquid cooler is responsible.
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