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PC Tricks

How to Check if Your CPU Temperature is Too High

CPU Temperature Cooling Fan

One of the most important things about your computer is that it can essentially breathe. This means the vents on your computer are open and air is flowing through unrestricted. If you have a computer that feels hot, that in and of itself may not be an issue, but if the computer is overheating, that is taking a toll on your processor and causing you problems. People who are well-versed with computers know how to purposely overclock the computer and understanding temperature allows them to see how hard they can push the computer. For novices, overclocking could be a symptom of a problem with the computer’s cooling system.CPU Temperature Cooling Fan

The vents on your computer serve the purpose of getting warm air out of the area where the processor is. As the processor works, the computer naturally builds up heat. Working with safe computer temperatures means your vent is unobstructed and the heat sink is clear from dust. Checking your CPU temperature is an easy way to see if despite keeping the vents clear from dust, you’re running the computer too hard.

Checking CPU Temperature

So, oddly enough, Windows allows you to check the core temperature of your computer, but you have to work really hard to get through the BIOS and for novices, that’s just too much. One of the best things to do is download a free app like Core Temp. This app does include a bunch of bloatware so just uncheck the boxes as you install it. Once installed, you can open it up and check your computer’s temperature. The program also has different options to help you lower the temperature on your computer.

That said, there’s more to understanding if your computer’s temperature is too high than just looking on a screen. A computer running at a high temperature manifests itself in a few ways, so it’s important to know the symptoms to look for indicating temperature is a problem.

Computer Temperature Problems

Besides being hot to the touch, there are several different issues which are indicative that your computer is running at too high a speed causing it to overheat. When a computer overheats, at some point it will just shut down like a car would. Before the computer just shuts itself off, programs will start working much more slowly. What’s happening is your processor is not able to handle the load it’s taking. This is overclocking. There are too many things for the processor to do so it’s running hard trying to get them all done quickly, but the load keeps piling on.

The good news about processors is that they’re made for a certain amount of overclocking. The better the processor, the more it can overclock. There is a critical mass where overclocking isn’t just putting a heavier load on your processor but in fact harming your computer. The temperature is just one area where you can monitor overclocking and see if you are still in the safe range or the harmful range.

When your computer is shutting down and slowing up, then what essentially happens is there’s too much to do and not enough time. The temperature is too high and that causes additional stress on the processor. This is when you have to take action.

Besides viewing the temperature, a good app will tell you the fan speed and the clock speed as well. You’ll see how all of these are related when you learn how to overclock your computer.

What to Do If Temperature is Too High

The first thing you should always do is make sure your computer is free of dust and other contaminants. The fans on the computer are running and are pulling in cool air while the heat sink is where the warm air inside the computer is expelled. These areas need to be free from dust and dirt. A can of compressed air will do the job quite well. Spray it when the computer is off and then use a rag to wipe away any remaining dust.

If you have to open the computer up, then don’t use a rag on any of the hardware. Just spray the compressed air and let it do its work. For a laptop, a great solution is getting a cooling pad. The laptop’s fan is on the bottom of the unit and this picks up all kinds of crud. A cooling pad allows the laptop to sit up a little bit and the fan is only exposed to cooler air. Some pads have fans built in that keeps cooler air going into the laptop while others use a gel system keeping the laptop itself cool. Either one is a good choice.

The other important thing to do is make sure the area around your computer is free from dust. You should be dusting your desk regularly. This will prevent dust from causing obstructions to your computer and increasing the clock speed unintentionally. Also, a clean workspace is just good for your health. Dust mites do a lot of damage to your respiratory system, so if you are hacking and sniffling while you’re working on the computer, then your area is too dusty.

If you’re doing all this and your computer is still overclocking, then there may be issues with too many programs running at once or you could have a defective fan. Close out any programs you don’t need and disable auto-launching of programs. Learn what the optimal fan speed is for your computer – it’s easy to google it – and if the fan speed is too low, then that’s the problem.


There are times when it’s good to have your computer overclock but if your computer overclocks unintentionally, then temperature will be a problem. Checking your computer’s temperature is a wise thing to do so that you are on top of any issues that may arise and handle them before there is any permanent damage to your processor or other hardware.

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