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What Temperature Should CPU Be And What is Normal Temperature?

by Lisa Hayden
CPU Processor Hierarchy

The computer is now our go-to device for most of our work and hobbies. That’s why a malfunctioning desktop computer is a huge bother for us all. 

While plenty of us invest in the latest security software to keep our computers virus- and malware-free, we often overlook the state of the CPU, the brain of our PCs. 

All the crucial functions of the computer happen here. The internal problems of a desktop computer at times is attributed to a very hot CPU thus checking on its temperature is an absolute must for all computer, laptop and notebook users. 

In order to have a healthy, functioning computer, you better read the following information.

Normal CPU Temperature for Windows Desktops

CPU temperature check

A normal CPU temperature is at best subjective since it differs from one manufacturer to another. There are also differences between models; thus, it can be hard to identify a temp that best represents the ideal temperature for CPUs. 

Computers, though, like any other machine, perform best when they remain cool. As long as the CPU temperature does not surpass agreeable limits, you will notice that it handles its tasks efficiently when it stays cool.

An excellent method to check if your CPU temperature is running cool is assessing ambient temperature, which is also referred to as room temperature. 

Room temperatures measuring around 22 to 24 degrees Celsius (71-75°F) is considered to be normal CPU temp. If the computer’s hardware operates at 10 degrees Celsius higher than the ambient level, it’s still considered safe enough. 

However, if the temperature hits around 80 degrees C (175°F), then you need to minimize your computer’s load. It means tasks you perform on your computer; simple encoding tasks, using applications and gaming can affect the temperature.

Make sure that you reduce the load to return to a more ideal CPU temp. 

Normal Idle CPU Temperature

normal CPU temperature

Idle CPU temp refers to the temperature of your desktop computer whenever you leave it idle. A normal temperature for idle PCs clocks in between 30 to 40 degrees C or 86 to 104°F

Ideal CPU Temperature for Gaming

A good CPU temperature range for gaming stands between 70 to 80 degrees Celsius (158-176°F). However, if it exceeds that limit, then you need to counter it with effective cooling methods to retain ideal temps and avoid damage. 

There are manufacturers though who have made processors which can tolerate higher temps (for example; 110 degrees C). Then again, gaming is an activity which has a significant impact on CPUs.

Intel Core’s CPU model, the i7 8700K is often recommended for gaming since it can tolerate heavy loads and the CPU temp will still reach an agreeable 79 to 80-degrees Celsius (174-176°F). 

Modern CPU models recommended for gaming like the Ryzen from AMD includes a protection feature which shuts the CPU down automatically as soon as it gets extremely hot, thus preventing damage. 

Of course, whether you possess a beefed-up CPU or not, you still need to monitor its temperature regularly. A good way to do this is through third-party applications, which we are going to discuss next. 

Recommended CPU Temperature Monitoring Apps

CPU temperature tools

If you are not too keen on getting the gist of your PC’s UEFI/BIOS systems for checking CPU temps, you can always rely on effective monitoring applications.

These apps utilize similar physical temperature sensors used by your computer’s UEFI/BIOS. Here are some of the most reliable monitoring apps that you can use for your desktop. 

CAM

Simple yet efficient monitoring application that provides the load, temperature, fan and clock speeds of CPUs and GPUs in real-time. It’s available as a free download, and you can use it even if you do not have NZXT parts on your computer. The app also allows clock speed adjustments for users. 

HWMonitor

  • Of the most popular CPU monitoring tools, the HWMonitor is recommended for gaming PCs. It can monitor the minimum and maximum temps of the CPU plus its value in real-time.
  • The app can keep track of fan speed, the use of other hardware parts and temperature. It can also do assess measurements for other factors like clock speeds.
  • Functions might be a tad overwhelming for casual users, but if you’re only after the CPU part, you can simply collapse irrelevant categories so you won’t have to deal with the other columns. 

SpeedFan

SpeedFan app gives its users manual control over their computer’s fan speed to maintain the ideal temperature for the CPU. This is recommended for computers equipped with air coolers. 

Whatever, solution you decide to use, investment in CPU temperature monitors will save you a lot of head and possibly heart ache (if you are an avid gamer) in the long run!

Simple Tips for CPU Temperature Maintenance

Intel 7th Gen Intel Core Desktop Processor i7-7700K

When your PC exceeds the normal CPU temp range, there’s no need to panic. Instead, you can just use the following tips and tricks to reduce CPU temp before damage occurs. Then, you can game and create to your heart’s content without worrying about damaging your system. Here’s what you need to know.

There are cooling systems available for maintaining ideal CPU temperatures these days. Fans and heatsinks are the most common. There are also soft cooling solutions and liquid cooling methods available, with the latter the most preferred by gamers. 

You can also invest in one of those industrial computer enclosures; these units are built with several fans, heat sinks and plenum chambers plus it was designed to keep your computer dust-free. 

Maintaining optimal CPU temperatures is as important as retaining a virus- and malware-free computer. For a desktop computer that runs effectively, it is best that you take these tips to heart.

Consider using any of those monitoring applications mentioned in this article. You can also check out various cooling systems that will suit your computer usage. 

  • Relocate Your PC 

Whether you are looking at your idle CPU temp or its performance under heavy load, you can expect temperature readings to rise when airflow is lacking. Your fans must properly move hot air out of the case while drawing cooler air inside to reduce CPU temps. 

Unfortunately, if anything blocks airflow at either side of the tower, then you’re in trouble. So, check the placement of your PC to make sure its fans are completely unobstructed. If not, then move it to a more open area and check your temps again to see if it made a difference. 

  • Clean Out the Dust Bunnies

As the fans operate, they tend to draw a lot of dust inside, which clings to the blades and piles up. The dust accumulation then makes it difficult for the fans to spin at the right speed. If any pet hair is in the mix, the combo could even block most of the vents, keeping air from properly circulating. 

To keep this problem at bay, plan to clean all the dust off your fans at least once a month. You can blow out the fans with compressed air as long as you take care to keep the can upright while spraying. Also, since the dust is liable to spray all over the room, take the tower into the garage or other dry open area before cleaning it out. 

  • Get a Bigger Tower 

If even your idle CPU temp consistently exceeds the norm, you might not have enough fans circulating air through your PC tower. Unfortunately, if you’re already maxed out, then you’ll have to get a bigger case before adding more fans. 

When buying a new tower, go beyond checking its exterior dimensions to looking at how many fans it can use. Also, check the fan sizes and their location inside the case. Ideally, you want a case with 120mm or bigger fans along the front, back, and top. Side-mounted fans are welcome a bonus.  

  • Check Fan Positions

When installing fans in your case, their position matters greatly when it comes to maintaining a normal CPU temp. If they are not arranged in the right way, hot air could get trapped inside, driving up the operating temperature of all your hardware. 

The fan at the front should suck in air from the room to cool everything down. If you have side fans, they should also draw in cool air. The fans at the back and top, on the other hand, should act as exhaust ports that push hot air out of the tower. 

  • Boost Your Fan Speeds

Your computer fans run at a set speed right out of the box, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave them chugging along at that rate. Instead, you can actually boost your fan speeds using software controls if they are connected to the motherboard. If they are attached directly to the power supply, however, you’ll need a hardware fan controller to make the changes.  

If you use the Windows 10 operating system, you can set the fan speed through the BIOS. Otherwise, you might want to use a third-party fan control program, like SpeedFan. Either way, only change the fan speed percentage by 5 to 10 percent at a time to gradually reduce CPU temp. 

  • Keep the Case Closed

Although it might seem like it makes sense to maximize airflow by opening up your case, that move tends to have the opposite effect. If you want your fans to do the heavy lifting, you need to keep the case closed at all times.

By keeping a tight lid on the tower, you create a direct route for the continuous flow of cool air to follow. Plus, the fans can effectively route hot air out of the tower and away from your hardware to maintain normal CPU temp. 

  • Master Cable Management 

Cable management is a difficult thing to master, but it is well worth the effort if you want to reduce CPU temps to the ideal range. When your cables are running wild through the tower, they are blocking proper airflow and driving up temperatures. 

So, take the time to route them neatly along the case, keeping them well out of the way of the rest of the hardware. Your PC will not only look truly fantastic, but it will run at the optimal temperature as well. 

  • Replace the Thermal Paste

A thin layer of thermal paste lies between your CPU and its cooler to help keep temperatures down. When properly applied and in good condition, the paste helps dissipate heat generated by the CPU, helping the cooler keep temps in the normal range. Over time, however, the paste can dry out, ruining its heat dissipating qualities. 

Thankfully, when that happens, you can just open up your case, remove the cooler, and apply a new coat of thermal paste. During the reapplication process, gently scrub away all the old paste with a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free rag. Then, apply the new coat in an X-shape before fitting the CPU cooler back in place. 

  • Verify CPU Cooler Placement 

If you reapply the thermal paste and still have problems, your cooler could be seated incorrectly on the CPU. The heatsinks can only operate correctly when sitting directly against the CPU and its layer of paste. 

If there’s any airflow at all between the two, your CPU temp will shoot out of the normal range. You can check by opening up your computer and taking a close look between the cooler and CPU. If you’re unsure, just remove and reinstall the cooler using a fresh application of thermal paste. 

  • Upgrade Your CPU

Although CPUs do not generally get hotter with age, their processing power can struggle to keep up as the years go by. New video games and other software programs tend to keep up with the abilities of all the newest hardware, making older systems struggle to keep up with demand. As the CPU pushes itself to its limits, temperatures are likely to rise, leaving you wondering just how to cool things off a bit.

Unfortunately, the likely answer is with a CPU upgrade that brings your PC up to date. Your processing speed can then keep up with the software’s demands, helping reduce CPU temp to the right level. 

  • Adjust the Power Load 

If you cannot swing a new CPU right now, that’s okay. Instead, you can reduce its maximize power load to keep it from overexerting itself. Then, it won’t try to burn itself out while running your preferred software programs, but performance could lag a bit. 

In any case, you can make this change and see what happens, and then reverse it later if you’re not happy with the result. Depending on your operating system, you’ll likely need to move through the control panel to find the advanced power settings. From there, you can reduce CPU temp by moving the maximum processor state to 80 percent instead of 100 percent. 

  • Get a Bigger Cooler

When it comes to reducing hardware temperature, your CPU cooler is the first chance at getting rid of all that heat. If it’s not up for the job, then everything has to work double time to make up for it. 

So, if you still have the stock CPU cooler or equivalent, consider upgrading to a bigger model. Before jumping in feet first and buying the biggest cooler you can afford, remember to check if it will fit in your case. If not, then a tower upgrade is in order before you can make the jump. 

  • Consider Water Cooling 

If you have minimal space for gigantic heatsinks on an air cooler, then you might want to go with water cooling instead. You will still need room to mount the radiator, but the water-cooled models don’t demand as much space right above the motherboard. 

As an added benefit, water cooling is quieter than air plus offer tons more cooling power when you buy a mid-range model and on up. They are quite pricey, however, demanding a good chunk of money to effectively reduce CPU temp ranges in your PC. 

  • Check for Viruses

If your computer is suddenly displaying an idle CPU temp that’s far outside the norm, you could have a virus problem on your hands. When your PC is infected with viruses, the malware uses up your processing power and potentially overloads your CPU. The internal temp then increases in kind, leaving you wondering what’s got into your computer.

Thankfully, you can simply run a quick virus scan to find and remove the malware infecting your system. You may want to run scans using multiple programs if you don’t find any viruses with the first one. Start with your normal antivirus program, and then scan again with a program like Malwarebytes to see what you can find. 

  • Skip the Urge to Overclock

Overclocking is all fun and games until normal CPU temps keep climbing ever upwards. If your CPU gets too hot, it will throttle its performance down anyway, so it’s wise to maintain a good balance. Plus, if it gets too hot, damage could occur, making it necessary to replace your CPU if not your motherboard and other important components as well. 

For that reason, if you ever have to reduce CPU temp to prevent throttling and damage, skip the urge to overclock for the time being. From there, you can figure out why overclocking is causing overheating issues or see if something else is the culprit. In the meantime, running your PC at the normal rate will help protect your components as they operate at the ideal CPU temp. 

Final Word

It is crucial to keep your computer free from dust, dirt and other debris since they can clog your desktop’s insides and lead to overheating. 

Clean your PC regularly with compressed air to remove dirt and dust buildup on the fans inside. 

Humid, hot air can also affect your PC’s system and cause increased power consumption. It is recommended that you keep your PC away from enclosed areas and direct sunlight for sufficient airflow.

Make sure that your CPU has a fan that will pull air into it and another fan to drive air out. These fans should be parallel with the system, so the air that is pulled into the covered space is guided towards the CPU’s case while the fan driving the air out is actually eliminating heated air leaking out of the computer. 

By taking any, or all, of the above steps, you can reduce CPU temperature and keep your PC in great condition over the years. You can then enjoy all your games and other software programs without worry about causing damage to your processor and other vital hardware components.

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