Have you ever been watching a YouTube video, searching the web, answering emails and more, all at the same time on the same device? If so, you may have noticed your device becoming hot to the touch or the fan running at increasingly high speeds. This is because the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is overheating.
While most premium protection services or VPNs won’t cause overheating, it’s possible for a lack of ventilation, dust, malfunctioning parts or background applications to be the culprit. If left untreated, high CPU temps can damage or destroy devices.
Read our guide to learn more about how to check CPU temp, why your CPU may be overheating and how to prevent this.
What is CPU Temp?
CPU temp is the temperature of a technological device’s central processing unit. These processors are arguably the most important parts of any device because they process requests and information so the device works properly.
CPU temps can run high if the processor is being used over a long period of time or for multiple high-maintenance tasks. If a CPU’s temperature is too high for too long, the processor can overheat which could lead to slower processing or system failure. It is important to be aware of the CPU temp in order to keep a computer running at its best.
How to Check CPU Temp on Windows 10 and Windows 11
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to check CPU temp on a Windows system, so manual checks are the only way for Windows 10 and Windows 11 users to see and monitor the temperatures of their systems.
Use BIOS/UEFI to Check CPU Temp
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to check the CPU temperature on a Windows system. To manually check your CPU temperature, you will need to use the basic input-output system (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) software. These software systems make sure a device’s hardware runs properly.
By rebooting your computer, you can check your CPU temp using the BIOS/UEFI software. As your computer restarts, it will give you a designated key — typically F12, F2, ESC or DEL — to access your processor settings.
Step 1: Navigate to the taskbar and select Settings.
Step 2: Choose Update & Security.
Step 3: On the side panel, select Recovery.
Step 4: Go to Advanced startup and hit Restart now.
Step 5: On the reboot screen, choose Troubleshoot.
Step 6: Hit Advanced options.
Step 7: Click UEFI Firmware Settings. If your system uses BIOS, you will skip this step.
Step 8: Confirm by clicking Restart.
After restarting your system, you will be taken to a screen where your CPU temperature is available. This will be a static temperature, but it should give you an idea of the health of your computer.
Checking CPU Temp With Core Temp
Outside of manual checks, it’s possible to check CPU temp with apps on both Windows and Mac devices. The Core Temp app is one of the most accessible app options that allows you to monitor the temperature of all your computer’s processors.
After you have downloaded and installed the Core Temp app, follow these steps to check your CPU temperature:
Step 1: Open the application.
Step 2: Locate the temperatures of your processors at the bottom of the widget under Temperature Readings. The Max column will show you the highest recorded CPU temps.
Step 3: Quickly access core temps by selecting “show hidden icons” at the bottom of your taskbar.
If you are looking for additional ways to check CPU temp for macOS, the Fanny Widget allows you to monitor your fans and CPU temp right from your menu bar and SpeedFan allows you to manually control the speeds of your fans.
6 Additional CPU Temp Checking and Monitoring Softwares
Aside from Core Temp, there are a variety of different apps that allow you to check and monitor your CPU temps. Some apps are designed for specific device users — like gamers or white hat hackers — but these six apps all offer CPU temperature checks and monitoring.
- HWMonitor: With both free and paid options, HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring system that checks and monitors temperature and other computer health sensors.
- NZXT Cam: As a free download with a mobile app for monitoring, NZXT Cam is popular with gamers because it is easy to use and can monitor CPU temps during gameplay.
- HWInfo: Popular with major organizations like NASA, HWInfo is an easy-to-use, free software system that monitors all technical aspects of a technological device.
- Open Hardware Monitor: Designed with temperature in mind, Open Hardware Monitor is open-source software that can monitor CPU temp, fan speed and more.
- Ryzen Master: Built specifically for AMD Ryzen processors, Ryzen Master offers insight into and manual control over CPU temperature, overclocking and more.
- Speccy (???): Along with PC specs, Speccy allows users an in-depth look into the CPU processor, motherboard and more.
Why Should You Check CPU Temp?
The CPU is responsible for completing the instructions received from the hardware and software. When it overheats, your device could be damaged or destroyed. It’s good practice to periodically check your CPU temp to ensure you aren’t inflicting any unnecessary harm on your device. Monitoring these temperatures can also alert you to other possible problems, like viruses or malicious malware.
Causes of High CPU Temps
If your device is healthy, it shouldn’t overheat randomly. High CPU temps are often caused by some other issue — like having too many programs running or a virus infection. Some of the more frequent causes of an overheated CPU include overclocking, thin computers, old computers, system freezes and slow PCs.
Your CPU may be overheating because you’re overclocking your CPU. When you overclock a computer, you modify your processor to perform faster than it was originally made for. This can cause your CPU’s temp to increase because it is being forced to work harder than the manufacturer intended.
If you own a thin computer, then you might notice it gets hot faster than other computers. Many thin computers don’t have enough space to allow for proper cooling technology, including fans. Because thin computers still have the same powerful processors as their predecessors, they can overheat quickly without the proper cooling mechanisms. Owners of these thin computers usually need to buy exterior accessories to cool their computers.
After using your device for many years, there may be dust buildup that stops the fans from cooling the CPU. Disinfecting your computer or replacing its fans can help extend its life. Additionally, antivirus software can protect older computers from dangerous malware or viruses that they are more vulnerable to.
Sometimes a crash or shutdown has nothing to do with your software or hardware, but it is actually the computer trying to protect itself from long-term damage caused by consistent overheating. To lower this risk, you can free up RAM space by deleting old files and removing unnecessary programs.
Older computers or those that lack storage space may be forced to run at slower speeds. This can put a strain on your CPU and cause it to overheat. Making your computer faster by tending to hardware or software issues could help keep your CPU temps lower.
What’s the Best CPU Temp for Your Computer?
To keep your computer in the best possible shape, it is ideal that you keep your temps under 60°C. Your computer should be able to perform its best without inflicting damage to your computer if its CPU temps stay around this number. For gamers or systems running intense programs, normal CPU temperatures can be between 70 and 80°C.
It’s important that your processor is not reaching temperatures over 90°C. These temperatures can cause serious damage to your computer, especially if they occur regularly and over long periods of time. If your CPU temperature is consistently high, you may need to replace your device’s fans and revert any overclocking adjustments.
7 Tips for Keeping Your CPU Temp Down
Keeping your computer free from any internal harm and external damage is the best formula for a long-lasting device. Try some of these tips and techniques to keep all of your parts in top shape:
1. Clean Your PC
There are a few ways to keep the inside and outside of your computer clean. You can use a dust rag and a disposable compressed air duster to clean debris from the interior and exterior. You can also open the casing to carefully vacuum around the fans and other hardware components.
2. Replace Your Thermal Paste
There are times when an overheating issue can easily be solved by removing the old layer of thermal paste and adding a new one. Thermal paste is what transfers the heat from your CPU to the cooler, and when it dries up your CPU temp can increase. Most thermal pastes will need to be replaced after three years.
3. Purchase a New CPU Cooler
If you are still having trouble cooling down your computer, it might be time for some new fans with a new cooler. Many pre-installed CPU coolers are not able to handle a device’s consistent use, so replacing them can help stop your device from overheating. You can also easily install a water-cooling solution in addition to your fans, or even in place of them.
4. Use a Laptop Stand
An effective way to increase airflow and protect your device is to use a laptop stand. Laptop stands hold your computer at the optimal angle for staying cool. Plus, these hard, flat surfaces allow for air circulation and limit heat build-up.
5. Install Antivirus Software
Without antivirus software, your device is vulnerable to malware. Aside from accessing your personal information, destroying files, or filling your device with spam, malware can overrun your CPU and cause it to overheat. Protecting your devices by downloading antivirus software is the best way to keep your personal information secure.
6. Close Background Applications and Programs
Background applications and programs can be a drain on your computer’s processing power. If you aren’t using a certain application or program, shut it down or install software to put idling programs to sleep. This will allow your processor to focus on the application or program you need to use and lower your CPU temps.
7. Maintain a Cool Environment
Your device is more likely to overheat if your physical environment is too warm. Keeping your PC out of direct sunlight is an easy way to regulate your CPU temp. Additionally, a cool environment will allow your processors to run their best.
If you have a computer that is constantly overheating, it might be time to perform some of these basic checks. Consistently monitoring CPU temps can prevent early retirement of your computer. Unfortunately, if you cannot seem to lower your CPU temp, then it might be time to invest in premium protection services, new parts or even a new computer.