System CPU Temperature: Ever feel like your laptop is about to burn your thighs? Or that the fan is spinning so loudly that it sounds like a wind tunnel? Running at high temperatures can permanently damage the computer. Here’s how to detect whether your PC is too hot—and make it chill out.
In most cases, you don’t need to worry about the temperature at which your laptop or desktop computer is running.
Computers have several sensors built into them to help monitor and manage heat.
If the internal fans are not adequate to cool the system, the processors will slow down. If the internal components get too hot, the computer may shut down as a protective measure.
That being said, you should be aware of the acceptable “operating environment” temperature for your computer.
A safe ambient temperature range for a laptop is around 50° to 95° Fahrenheit, or 10° and 35° Celsius.
The range is similar for desktop computers, but systems with larger fans and advanced cooling systems may be able to handle higher ambient temperatures.
If you’re a typical laptop user, the only time you’ll need to worry about the temperature range is when you use your laptop outside on a cold or hot day.
There are a couple of basic reasons your computer can overheat. The first is when misbehaving or damaged components generate more heat than they should.
Another is when the cooling system that’s supposed to keep overheating from happening—whether you have an air- or liquid-cooled rig—isn’t doing it’s job.
In this article, we’re going to look at how to tell when overheating is the problem and how to narrow down the problem.
What Happens When The CPU Temperature Is Too High?
In most cases, and with how computers are designed today, the entire system shuts down when a CPU reaches a specific temperature to keep it from going up in smokes.
This assures that your computer is kept from possible and further damage.
Regardless, regular high temperature readings when using your computer for long periods of time could risk and damage the CPU.
This also risks damaging the motherboard down the line. This is a reason why you need to make sure your CPU temperatures are kept at low levels.
What to do if Your CPU Temperature is Too High
Make sure the fan is running. “If it didn’t run hot at first, and it’s running hot now,” says Silverman, “put your hand near the fan grille and feel for vibration, to see if the fan is working.” If your fan is broken, then it won’t dissipate that heat. You’ll need to contact a professional who can replace it.
Blow out the dust. “Dust bunnies, debris, and food fragments can find their way through ducts and magnify the situation,” says Silverman. He recommends grabbing a can of compressed air and using it to clean out the fan grille. “Try to angle the nozzle so you’re blowing air out of the laptop.” Cleaning out the gunk will allow the fan to run freely once more.
Check your surroundings. If something is blocking the airflow around your laptop, that could be causing your problem. “Don’t put it on a bed—that’s the worst thing you can do,” says Silverman. “The blankets just stifle the airway. Put it on a flat desk, or on top of a flat book so air can flow.” Some clamshell cases also stifle airflow, so if you have a case on the bottom of your laptop, try removing it. Other surroundings also matter: If the weather is hotter than 95°F, don’t use your computer outside of the air conditioning.
Stick to a genuine battery and AC adapter. “If you replace your battery with a secondhand battery from Ebay or Amazon, you’re going to have issues,” says Silverman. “They aren’t packaged the same way as the originals, so the heat tends to run hotter on the contacts. Don’t skimp on the battery. Bad things will happen.”
Update your software. This is rare, but occasionally, software and firmware issues can cause overheating. In fact, this just happened with Apple’s latest MacBooks: They thermal throttled under seemingly-normal conditions until a recent software update fixed the issue.