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What Are The Optimal CPU and GPU Temperatures?

By: Henz Llarves | Date Posted: August 10, 2022

What Are The Optimal CPU and GPU Temperatures?

There have been several passionate discussions about this topic, with some people claiming that it makes no difference whatsoever, while others claim that lowering the temperature improves their computer’s performance. CPUs and GPUs are two of the most vital components in a computer; without enough cooling, they might overheat and cause the device to fail or shut down.

In this guide, we will talk about the ideal temperature a CPU and GPU should have. As well as the best ways to cool them.


Optimal Temperature for the CPU

All major computer manufacturers have different tolerances for CPU temperature. According to Intel, the maximum safe operating temperature for its processors is 100° Celsius, while with Ryzen it’s 95° Celsius. However, it’s not recommended to run your CPU at these temperatures for extended periods of time.

The optimal temperature for the CPU when idle should be between 35 to 45 degrees Celsius. This means no processes are running in the background while you are leaving your computer on, but it is not being put to use. Lower than 35 degrees Celsius is excellent, while between 45-50°C is acceptable. However, when the temperature is above 50 degrees Celsius at idle, there must be something wrong with the cooling.

When the CPU is 50% load, the temperature should be between 50 to 65 degrees Celsius. However, lower than 50 degrees Celsius is excellent while between 65-75 degrees Celsius is acceptable. When the temperature reaches 75 degrees Celsius or higher with a 50% load, it is not considered as good.

For a CPU that is running at full load, the temperature should be under 60 degrees Celsius. This means it is being heavily used, such as playing CPU-intensive games or demanding applications. Lower than 60 degrees Celsius is excellent but between 60-80 degrees Celsius is good enough. Temperature above 85 degrees Celsius when under full load isn’t healthy for the CPU and can cause damage to it if it lasts for too long.


Types of CPU Coolers

Generally, CPU coolers fall into two categories: air and liquid. Air coolers are the most common type for consumer PCs. They are cheap to produce and require very little space in or on your computer case. They utilize blower fans that draw heat away from the processor with their rotating blades. This process is known as convection cooling, which is when heat transfers between two objects of different temperatures through physical contact.

Liquid Cooler on the other hand, as the name suggests, consists of a closed-loop system filled with a non-toxic fluid called coolant that’s circulated through your CPU with an attached pump. Liquid coolers operate similarly to air coolers in that they use fans too, but their cooling performance is extraordinary when compared to air coolers.


What CPU Cooler Should you Consider?

Both come with pros and cons. Air coolers are generally cheaper, offer optimal cooling performance for overclocking, and require minimal maintenance. Liquid coolers on the other hand provide increased thermal control that air coolers fail to match at times due to their inferior cooling efficiency. They are mostly more expensive and require some maintenance.


Optimal Temperature for the Graphics Card

GPUs on the other hand are not different either. They should obviously not be hitting 100°C but still, it’s a certain range that shouldn’t be breached. In fact, the ideal temperature for GPUs when idle is somewhere around 40°C.

GPUs when idle also have a “good enough zone” which is anywhere from 40-50°C, while 50-60°C (idle) is still acceptable. But when you are getting higher than 60°C at idle, you should start figuring out what’s wrong with either the graphics card or its cooling.

When playing games, the ideal temperature for it is somewhere around between 55-60°C. This is when your GPU will be running at 50% load which is not too demanding on resources. Between 60 – 70°C is good enough (at 50% load).

For the GPU that runs on an intensive task and make use of its full potential, there are also three distinct zones defined. Under 65°C is the ideal zone. Between 65 – 80°C is good enough. 80-95°C is still acceptable and anything higher than 95°C is not good (that’s pretty much the same as with CPUs).


Types of Graphics Card Cooling Solution

Graphics card

Third-party GPU sellers such as MSI and ASUS are sometimes improving the reference design by adding their own cooling solutions. The majority of the graphics cards today make use of air cooling, but they can be liquid-cooled, too. There are graphics cards with a built-in AIO cooler, however, you’ll pay for the premium price.


How to Track the Temperature of CPU and GPU?

HWMonitor CPU and GPU Temperature

CPUs and Graphics cards come with built-in sensors for tracking their temperature. And with the use of third-party software, it’ll be pretty easy to monitor their temperature in real-time.

There are several applications that can help you track the temperature of your CPU, but there are also applications that allow you to see the temperature of other hardware components.

HWMonitor is the most common application used for tracking the temperature of CPUs and GPUs. MSI Afterburner is also pretty good but it’s mostly used to overclock your graphics card (custom fan speed, clock speeds, voltages, etc.). In the end, both applications do a wonderful job of displaying the temperature of your hardware components.


Does Temperature Affect Gaming Performance?

Enjoyable gaming

Temperature does not directly affect gaming performance. If the temperature still falls under the acceptable range, then your game will perform just fine. But if the temperature throttles with the rising heat, the CPU or GPU will force it to reduce the clocks, which causes a delay in frames and results in lag or frame skipping.


Things That Cause Your PC to Run Hot

Dust Buildup

Dust inside computer

Dust buildup will decrease heat dissipation. It decreases the efficiency of the heatsink which in return increases temperatures. The only way to prevent dust build-up is regular cleanings, preferably with compressed air.

Heat Transfer

With many modern PCs using aluminum cases instead of steel or copper cases, there are cases where heat transfer inside the case can cause unusual or high readings. If possible, avoid this by not obstructing airflow inside your case or increasing ambient temperature.

Lack of Proper Airflow

Insufficient airflow caused by a lack of fans can create insulate pockets that trap heat. Do not obstruct your cooling systems and do not stack computer components on top of each other without adequate spacing. Doing so creates an artificial environment that prevents sufficient airflow.

Bad Cable Management

Bad cable management can interfere with airflow which could cause your computer to overheat. Take the time to organize your cables in a well-thought-out manner that won’t impede airflow or create potential hazards near heat zones.

Faulty Components

Sometimes your fans can simply fail, leading to unusual temperatures. If the temperature rise is consistently high and you have ruled out all other factors then it may be time to replace any faulty cooling components.

Overclocking

Many PCs are capable of overclocking their CPU or GPU. While overclocking can increase the speed of your PC it also increases the heat output. If you wish to overclock, make sure that your case, fans, and heatsink are capable of handling increased temperatures.


Does High Temperature Affect the life span?

The simple answer is yes, high temperatures can lead to a decrease in the life span of your components. The higher temperature causes excess stress on the component which could cause it to break down faster than normal. CPUs and GPUs are designed to operate within a certain range of temperatures, but overheating can reduce their lifespan.


Tips to Improve the CPU and GPU Temperature

CPU and GPU

Maintenance

Maintaining your computer is probably the most effective way to keep temperatures down. By cleaning out dust regularly you can ensure that there are no insulated pockets trapping heat inside of your PC. Replacing damaged fans with quality ones is also helpful.

Power Settings

You can use power-saving settings in Windows or your BIOS menu to minimize power draw on the CPU and GPU when they are not being used, reducing overall temperature. This will not increase performance but it will help keep temperatures down while incurring little-to-no performance loss.

Clear Space Around Components

Make sure that there is ample space around any cooling components, especially near the CPU and GPU cooler fan. This allows the cooler to properly function and increases airflow.

Use a Proper Case

PC case with good airflow

A proper case will keep your components cool by allowing for airflow and preventing the excess buildup of dust. If possible, try to purchase a case with at least two intake fans and one outtake fan or more depending on the model. Avoid stacking computer components on top of each other and do not obstruct ventilation holes with wires or miscellaneous hardware. Mesh cases are a popular choice for PCs because they allow for proper airflow and prevent dust buildup.

Change the Thermal Compound/Phase Change

On older CPUs and GPUs, the thermal compound being used may have dried up due to age, and increasing temperatures. Most heat spreaders are removable (many are), so you can easily remove and replace the old paste with a new compound or even change it out for liquid metal. You should also be sure that you remove any old paste from the heat spreader before applying the new paste.


Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve looked at the optimal CPU and GPU temperatures, it’s important to remember that these are just general guidelines. You may find that your computer runs best when the CPU or GPU is a little bit warmer or cooler than what we recommended. Experiment with your settings and see what works best for you.

We hope this article has helped you understand how to calculate the optimal CPU and GPU temperatures for your computer. And as always, if you have any questions, please let us know so that we can help. Our team of PC Hardware experts will be happy to answer all your questions.

Henz Llarves

Henz Llarves

I'm Henz Llarves and I'm passionate about writing and gaming. I've been building gaming PCs for a long time, and I've been writing about them as well.

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