Damn that’s hot – How to reduce your CPU Temperature

Damn that’s hot – How to reduce your CPU Temperature

cpu temperature

An increase in CPU temperature is one of the most common types of hardware problems, but it’s a lot more than just inconvenient.

The heating up of internal hardware has the potential to cause permanent damage to PC components (and in extreme cases, could also pose a physical danger to the end-user if these components were to spark, short-circuit, or explode).

Does your computer appear to be producing sudden amounts of heat, or do you notice weird occasional clicking noises coming from the inside of your computer box?

Does your laptop or computer shut down while in operation, restart at random or slow down more than you are used to?

All of these potential symptoms related to computer issues might actually just be related to a heated CPU.

 Warning: Always ensure that your computer is completely plugged out before continuing with ANY of the steps in this article. It can always remain dangerous to work with electrical components – and please keep this in mind when doing any amount of PC repairs.

 Warranty Warning: In some cases, opening up your computer tower might void the warranty – and in other cases, any modifications made to components could also affect your warranty. Keep this in mind before continuing with PC repairs or modifications (and don’t say this very section here didn’t warn you before you started!)

 If you suspect that a heated CPU could be the cause for your computer trouble, here’s how to test for it – and what to do if tests for a heating CPU is positive.

Here’s a quick and comprehensive guide that’ll tell you exactly what happens when your CPU heats up, what might cause a heated CPU in the first place – and most importantly, what you can do as a user to reduce your CPU temperature.

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Why CPU Temperature Rises (& What’s Safe)

CPU temperature should never rise too high. When it does, you’re guaranteed to start experiencing issues with your computer that will get progressively worse unless the problem gets fixed.

Let’s go through the very basics of CPU temperature first: what’s safe, what’s not, and why it goes up.

If you suspect that you have a heated CPU, this section will also tell you how to diagnose the problem and be sure.

What’s Safe CPU Temperature?

A safe CPU temperature is usually between 30 and 45 degrees Celcius, with some variation based on your manufacturer and model. Once it goes higher than this, it might stop components from functioning right – and in extreme cases, you risk damage to your motherboard and other components when temperatures reach heights.

This reddit user perfectly summarized it:

Damn that's hot - How to reduce your CPU Temperature 1

An increased internal temperature will inevitably mean that your PC starts doing things it shouldn’t do.

And we hate that, right?

Repetitive restarts or shutdowns, random clicking noises, and literal heat coming from your components are just three signs that there’s a serious internal problem.

Why Does CPU Temperature Rise?

CPU temperature might increase due to several different reasons. A basic “process of elimination” can help you to figure out what’s the most likely cause.

Some of the basic ones are:

  • External Temperature: This is likely if you live in warmer areas, which might affect your computer’s internal temperature – especially if your components are already running hot.
  • Older Components: Older components weren’t as well-designed as what we have today, and might be more prone to cooling problems. It’s up to you whether you’d prefer to repair older CPU models, or replace them with something else. The majority of this guide focuses on repair techniques.
  • Malfunctioning Other Components: Other PC components like your CPU, GPU, or internal cooling fans could be at fault if you notice sudden issues with increasing CPU temperature. Dust, age, or impact can be just three possible things that can make other PC components go wrong.
  • Cooling Issues: Cooling issues are common. Sometimes this is due to crowding within your computer box, or due to dust and dirt interfering with how these components are supposed to work. Rarely, this could be due to loose components or malfunctioning cables – and it’s worth saying here that you should check these, too!

What Happens When CPU Temperature Goes Too High?

Computer repairs are easy to postpone or put off when you have other things to do (or when your budget doesn’t allow for a trip to a PC shop or Amazon).

What’s the worst that could happen if you let your CPU heat up for another couple of days or a week, right? RIGHT?

The worst case scenario is component damage (for example, to the motherboard), or an explosion – while it’s very rare, it can and has happened.

Don’t put off important computer repairs, especially not where heat  is involved.

Even if your issues are minor, heated CPU problems only get worse with time (or until the problem has been found and fixed).

Signs Of Rising CPU Temperature

A few most common signs of rising CPU temperatures have already been described in this article.

How can you spot that your CPU temperature might be going up?

Let’s go over some of the signs again.

  • Sudden restarts, or random shut-downs during operation.
  • Issues when starting up, or when booting.
  • Changes in how your computer fans operate, such as sudden starts, clear over-running of your fans, or sudden stopping of your device fans.
  • New or increasing noises from your computer box, including a common clicking noise.
  • Further issues as a result of a heated CPU, such as other blown components (which might have blown thanks to the CPU to start with).
  • System lag that cannot be related to older software or outdated RAM. When a heating CPU is placed under more pressure, temperatures only increase further (and congratulations, you’ll have more PC issues in an instant).

Some computers will display a warning if the temperature of your internal components reach towards dangerous levels for the components or the user. Never ignore or override this warning: take it seriously!

CPU Temperature: Are You Sure?

Basic diagnostics software tools can help you to figure out if your CPU temperature is the problem. Assuming that you DO NOT get a warning from your computer regarding the temperature, you can use  a software tool to see.

For instance ASUS has the AI Powersuite which gives you a clear picture of your CPU’s status quo:

Damn that's hot - How to reduce your CPU Temperature 2

 

But there are also free 3rd party tools you can use, like HWInfo64 (available here). Here’s how it looks like (courtesy of J2C):

It’s possible for CPU temperatures to increase to 100 degrees Celsius.

For water, this is boiling point, but for your computer, this could spell a dangerous situation.

Should your CPU temperature clock this high, switch off your PC immediately and proceed with repair steps (or take your PC to a repair shop if you don’t feel comfortable with internal modifications).

Methods to Reduce CPU Temperature

If you’re sure enough that a warm CPU is the problem, then it’s time to do something about it. You’re in luck: the majority of things that trigger a warm CPU can be fixed without huge costs (or large amounts of time).

Here are 10 ways to do something about a heating CPU:

 

Warning: While this has been said before, always be careful when handling computer components. Unplug your device from the mains, remove any connectors between the power supply and everything else, and use general common sense when following any online guides like this.

 

  1. Stop Choking Your CPU

Air is important for all things that breathe it, but airflow is important even for things that don’t have lungs. A CPU needs to breathe just as much as you do – and when it can’t, it’s going to get hot in there.

Dismantle your PC box by removing the screws, and ensure that there’s enough free movement of air around your CPU and relevant components.

TL;DR: Overcrowding is bad, dust is bad.

Insects and animals, very rarely, might also choose to make their nest inside PC towers. It has happened that PC users have found mice, snakes, or hornets inside their computers (when the only sign was a weird noise and some heat).

 

  1. Double-Check Your Cables

Cables can easily crowd the inside of your setup. As with most components, cables can also malfunction – and when the right amount of power doesn’t get to your components, issues like excess heat might very well happen.

Always check your cables while you’re inside the box.

Replace worn or bent cables, and fire up the system again to see if the problem reoccurs.

 

  1. Check Cooling System Location

Where is your cooling system and/or fan located?

Open the box and check if you experience problems with heated components. Located to close to your other components or cables, overcrowding can cause heat to transfer from one component to another.

What’s the solution if that’s the case?

Replace it with a better cooling system, or replace the fans that are supposed to keep your components chilled out during operation.

 

  1. Clean Your Parts

The majority of computer components and their attached fans will collect dust and dirt over time.

These are running electrical components after all, and static causes them to attract far more dust than you would imagine.

Clean your parts, and this cannot be said enough.

If you don’t clean the inside of your PC, collecting dust will eventually cause a whole ton of different problems (and heating up of your CPU is just one of them).

A simple dust-and-vacuum can do wonders. We recommend an air duster to remove unwanted dust.

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  1. Cool Down (with Thermal Paste)

Assuming that you’ve gotten this far into the guide and haven’t solved the problem yet, thermal paste could be the answer. If it isn’t any of the other computer components causing it, then your cooling system just might not be enough to solve the issue.

Thermal paste is available from the majority of PC shops and tech retailers – usually in tubes, like toothpaste, but for your computer.

Find your computer’s CPU, and apply some thermal paste. Enough, and not too much.

Thermal paste insulates the CPU, and can stop it from reaching high temperatures in the first place.

If any other fixes don’t do the trick, try thermal paste.

You can’t go wrong with Arctic or Corsair past:

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  1. Buy a CPU Cooling Solution (Liquid!)

If thermal paste wasn’t your answer, a different CPU Cooling Solution might be the solution to your problem. Upgrade your cooling system with a liquid cooler  (for intensive computer systems that are going to run into higher temperatures anyway).

Server rooms are hot, and computer components get hot.

That’s just the way it is, even without any issues that cause internal temperature to spike.

An upgraded cooling system just might help, assuming that your components are in working order (but your cooling is just inadequate).

For water cooling we recommend the NZXTZ X53

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  1. Fix (or Replace) Your Internal Fan

Clicking noises or over-powered fans will mean that you have a larger problem than you thought, and this could mean opening up the box for a different reason.

Could your internal fans be the problem?

Replacing them and firing your computer up again is one way to figure this out. If the CPU cools down, then your fans were the problem. If not, move on to the next step.

For breezy CPU fans we recommend Noctua or Be Quiet!

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  1. Check Your Power Supply (Urgently)

Power supplies can malfunction and trigger other issues within your system. One of these possible issues is an overheating CPU, though other problems can also happen.

Startup issues? Reboots? Internal heat?

Check your power supply first.

Temporarily replace your power supply, test your system again, and see how many of the issues come back.

For power supplies you can’t go wrong with be quiet. Anything above 700W should keep you plowing for at least a few years. The Straight Power 11 is one of the best on the market (just make sure it fits in your tower)

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  1. Tweak Your Fans (With Some Settings)

Most mobos have at least in bios an option to adjust the fan curve. From experience i know that ASUS has the exact same tool as Software integrated in the AI Suite III. If you mobo software doesn’t have fan control, you can adjust fan settings with the use of third-party fan management software like SpeedFan.

If you are still able to start up your computer, install a fan manager and make sure that all of your fans work.

As a diagnostics tool, fan software can usually also help you to eliminate fans as the potential problem.

 

            Conclusion: Fixing CPU Heating (Is Actually Easy)

High CPU temperature is a common computer problem, though has the potential to be dangerous if you let it continue for too long without a proper solution.

Any signs of a heating CPU or other components means a simple check: Stop what you’re doing, shut down your computer, and immediately start with the very top of diagnostics to eliminate each problem.

CPU heating issues are usually due to cooling issues, dust, or a direct malfunction of your CPU (or a component related to it). After this guide, you should know that most computer issues are also easy to repair.

Use the comments to share PC tips for other users: have you ever had to cool down your CPU before?

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