Hardware Guide - Troubleshooting An Overheating PC

Written by Jon Sutton on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 2:00 PM

As PC gamers we love to push our PCs and games to the limit. We can’t help but crank up that extra setting, trying to squeeze out a bit more performance from our beloved rig.

Sometimes though, you’ll notice your PC really struggling. It happened to me 7 or 8 years back, when my gaming PC started stuttering, crashing, and generally throwing a hissy fit. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know. My first port of call was a temperate check, and sure enough my graphics cards were sky high. Overheating is the cause of number of problems with PCs, so I thought it best to take a look at leading causes and solution to PC overheating issues…

In terms of using a PC, gaming on it is pretty much up there with the most strenuous thing you can put it through. You’ve got a lot of components that need to run coolly, in a safe, stable temperature range, but once you get gaming it can get pretty stuffy in there. Overheating can lead to reduced performance for both your CPU and GPU, and can also shorten the components’ potential lifespan as well. The performance hit is beneficial in the end, because it reduces the temperature down to a safe level to prevent any permanent damage.

Temperature Tools

It’s always worth doing anyway, but in particular if you begin to notice performance issues, then a temperature check of your key components is the way forward. There’s a few good programs out there that can do this, which vary depending on what rig you’ve got.

AMD CPU owners will be best off with CoreTemp - this is no messing temperature tool that will let you know the overall temperature of your processor, as well as the individual cores.

Intel CPU owners can get their readouts from Real Temp - a temperature monitoring program dedicated Intel processors, ranging from single core CPU readouts right up to Core i7 processors.

For GPUs on the other hand, then GPU-Z will cover Nvidia, AMD, and Intel integrated needs.

Install these programs and boot them up and you’ll be greeted with the idling temps. In the grand scheme of things these don’t really matter, you’re going to want to push your machine to the max with these programs running in the background to get a good grasp on temperature issues.

Boot up something Metro: Last Light for 15 minutes or so and really put your gaming PC through its paces, then tab out and check your temperatures. For your GPU you’re going to be wanting to aim ~70c, but obviously SLI and CrossFire setups may push this up into the 80s. Any higher than 90c and you should be investigating if there’s a problem with your setup.

CPUs are a slightly different matter, and it’s easier to tell with some than others. Intel is generous enough to offer up a recommended Case Temperature for each of its cards, just search for your particular variant on ark.intel.com. AMD’s a little trickier here, so a lot of may come to researching your specific processor and getting some info on what range it should be. As a general rule of thumb, you’re probably going to be right to be concerned should your CPU be tipping 90c.

If you’re not sure, just take a moment to listen to your PC and you should be able to get a fairly good idea of an issue - under heavy load the fan will be making a bit of a racket.

Overheating Solutions

Okay, so you’ve noticed there’s an issue, now what? Well, there’s five basic solutions, depending on what exactly the problem is…

Eliminate The Dust - This one’s pretty obvious, but hey, you never know! Your PC pretty much acts as a double-ended vacuum cleaner while it’s chugging along, so it’s only natural that a lot of dust is going to get caught on the fans, grills and components. This should really be your first port of call, so get your PC, get on your hands and knees, and get cleaning.

Overclocking - Overclocking is the bane of many a PC. It’s all too easy to go and fiddle around with your BIOS, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be done right. Many a fried processor stands testament to this. I’m not going to go into detail on overclocking here, but if you’re PC’s noticeably overheating and you’re running an overclock, then this is obviously your first port of call to sort it out.

Cable Tidy - I’ve touched before on a PC I built about 10-11 years ago; it was my first build and it wasn’t exactly a work of art to be proud of. Opening up the size of the case was a mess, that was reminiscent of hacking through hanging vines in a rainforest. I made it all and it worked. For a while. I had an SLI set-up going on here with a pair of 7800 GT’s, and it’s probably safe to say you could’ve comfortably fried an egg on my rig until I’d sorted it out.

Air flow’s crucial; make sure your CPU and GPU have plenty of space around them, and where possible use an elastic band to tie all your loose wires together. Most modern cases have a separate section behind the motherboard wall where you can stash a lot of the wires, provided you put a bit of planning in.

Improve Your Cooling - If you’re confident in your build ability then there’s always the option to simply improve your cooling. You can attempt all the other fixes here, but if your rigs just simply too powerful then you’re going to need some advanced cooling. A better fan or a better heatsink for your CPU are the easier options - for those who want to go a little further then there’s of course always the water cooling option.

Upgrade Your Case - While your gaming rig might have worked great when you bought it, after a few upgrades it can be a significantly different beast to what it was designed for. An extra GPU, a couple of new hard drives and a new processor can have a big impact on your PC. Your case might’ve been fine for your old spec, but if your case is too cramped or poorly ventilated for the other solutions, then a more spacious, well ventilated case could be the answer.

That’s your basics for an overheating PC, and they’re all things that it’s clearly worth keeping an eye on from time to time. Just because your PC works fine one day doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect the next, but these various solutions should cover the basics and sort out any overheating issues you have.

Any GD’ers ever fried any components through overclocking?

Ever opened your PC to witness a real-life dust bunny hop out?

Let us know!

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14:53 Apr-26-2014

I guess my new 650D is a worthy uppgrade from my Antec P180, With only one intake fan and 2 outake :D

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14:07 Apr-25-2014

Wait how can somebody kill cpu with overclocking?
Its not year 2001 anymore

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15:06 Apr-25-2014

If someone uses way to much Vcore i guess. Pretty stupid if you aks me since you can google the maxiumum "safe" Vcore

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15:25 Apr-25-2014

Thats not problem of overclocking that is lack of knowledge

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22:06 Apr-25-2014

Ofc, but some of these people blame the board/cpu :(

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09:03 Apr-23-2014

I have an overclocked AMD fx-8120 cpu with water cooling. idle temp is 16c on full load its 35c max

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21:13 Apr-22-2014

Just got a custom built come back to me (6 month check up) and i used the stock paste and heatsink as he didnt wanna splash out serious cash (FX6100, GTX650TI, 16GB 1333MHZ) and noticed the temps was a bit high, did the normal clean out with compressed air and clean the filters etc etc and still getting the abnormal high temps at stock clocks so i changed the thermal paste and did a minor OC (+500MHZ) and now it runs 13/17C cooler haha amazing what a tad of cheap IC essentials paste can do haha

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10:39 Apr-22-2014

well my CPU in idle gets around 60 and when gaming i get up to 82-83 for the GPU i get somewhere around 62 in idle and 85 in gaming mode with OC and without the OC the temps go to 81

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15:36 Apr-22-2014

That's pretty hot mate,when are you getting a new rig you were talking about ? :D
And are you getting gtx 770 or r9 280X?

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16:17 Apr-22-2014

FX 8350 , MSI GTX 770 , 8 GB of Kingston Fury

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17:02 Apr-22-2014

Awesome,although i'd prefer 280x because of 3GB memory,but it's your choice bud :)

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18:10 Apr-22-2014

i will be gaming on 1920/1080 res i dont need that extra gig plus with GTX 770 i get assassins creed black flag for free

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19:59 Apr-22-2014

With new AMD Never Settle Forever bundle you'd get 3 free games to choose with r9 280X bought ;)

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23:01 Apr-22-2014

I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THAT now i gotta question myself again .....s*it

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09:37 Apr-23-2014

Hahah sorry mate xD
I'm just trying to help you out to choose a best GPU ;)
Imagine if you bought gtx 770 and after that you see that 280x was bundled with 3 games in the time you bought your 770 and you didn't even knew...it'd be a dissapointment huh ? :D

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07:47 Apr-22-2014

THATS WHY I LIKE MY CPU ..5 GHz for 49 minutes playing battlefield4 .!on stock cooling (Except the 2 120 mm fans and 1 90mm fan).

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06:30 Apr-22-2014

I have a GTX 770 and i5-4670K, at first I got 25c idle wich is perfect but after rebooting couple of times it started to idle at 33-35c, I don't overclock and I have 4 fans + the CPU cooler fan obv.

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08:44 Apr-22-2014

my 760 boot up at 21c, but when i open opera browser it goes to 35c on the dot, iv had it almost a year now

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05:49 Apr-22-2014

I dont have a lot of dust, so i just remove the side panel from my (LP) casing. If it still feels too hot, I turn on my AC.

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03:56 Apr-22-2014

I'm using Coretemp. Idle: 30ish, Max: are mid 80's in IBT very high stress test. Gaming is 50-75, depending on game. Crysis 3 is only 1 with temp>70. I use Evga Precision X for the gpu. temp idle: 30'ish, gpu1 max: 60's, gpu2 max: 70-80.

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01:59 Apr-22-2014

My CPU idles at between 16-25 degrees (package being the hottest) and reaches a maximum of mid-50s. My GPU idles at 22-25 degrees and maxes out at around 62-65 degrees. I have only one fan running inside which blows across the CPU.

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02:50 Apr-22-2014

My cpu idles at 40-45 degree.(though haswell is hot).while gaming it goes to 60-70 degrees .
and gpu idle temp is 40'# while gaming it goesgoes to 70's..what a darn

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05:02 Apr-22-2014

Part of the reason why I chose Ivy Bridge over Haswell was because of all heat it apparently generates compared to the older standard. With a sub-10% increase in performance the extra heat isn't really worth the "upgrade".

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05:39 Apr-22-2014

Ivy Bridge suffers from it too, for both these chips it's a lottery as to how much cooler of a chip you can get as well as the overclockability. My cpu runs 4.2ghz @ 1.15v. Compared to some others they require 1.2v+. It's all luck.

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13:09 Apr-23-2014

well im at 4.8Ghz @ 1.4/1.5v yeah... i like to live a dangerous life very dangerously ;)

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13:25 Apr-23-2014

1.5V for an Ivy?
Get that down if you want to have last longer than year

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09:16 Apr-22-2014

Haswell also has on doe VRM's meaning more heat than ivy. Haswell won't run hot during 24/7 as long you don't push beyond 1.25V

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01:14 Apr-22-2014

I don't want to sound like a jerk, but this article would benefit from more grammatical editing.

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22:33 Apr-21-2014

Mine was a cheap PSU that caused the overheating, shutting my pc down every time for months! Now I have a good one that never maked my pc to overheat. :)

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23:47 Apr-21-2014

That's why i always say that you never should cheap out on the PSU ;)

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15:38 Apr-22-2014

Mark is our PSU specialist here :D

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16:27 Apr-22-2014

@Mark1996 could this PSU handle a FX 8350 , MSI GTX 770 and 8 GB of RAM http://raidmax.com/psu/rx_600af.html
i have seen the raidmax 500af handling the FX 8350 and a HD 7970 Ghz Edition so i was wondering could it take it

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14:20 Apr-25-2014

It can handle them without problem, what I dont like is
-2 rails with 22A both instead of one
-made by CWT, same as corsair GS and lower line, budget psus, quite good quality of components but with lot of little problems
-not modular


-look for some psu from Seasonic, Super Flower or Flextronics

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23:54 Apr-21-2014

i had same few years back, kept blue screening when gaming then i got a great psu and never had a blue screen since :)

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21:58 Apr-21-2014

I need a new case ^^ My old one is to bad, Can only have one intake fan, I am looking at the NZXT H440: https://www.komplett.no/nzxt-h440-midi-tower-sort/807124

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22:24 Apr-21-2014

Anyone else who has a recommandetsion? (Cant write english ^^) Under 200$ I fell my HW need a proper case ;))

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23:51 Apr-21-2014

Cooler Master 690III
Corsair Obisidian 450D

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14:40 Apr-22-2014

Yeah, I dont like CM, I dont know why ^^ But i will look into those cases ;))

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20:41 Apr-21-2014

I never overclock, I'm too afraid haha

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21:04 Apr-21-2014

well, we call it overclock but nothing breaks if your cpu runs at higher than standard frequency, cpus running at stock speed are actually underclocked for multiple reasons, one of the main reasons is that weak PSUs might deliver unstable and less power than needed causing stability issues on a cpu that runs at peak speed, many of the pre-built systems have very low quality PSUs, most of the people buy pre-built systems after all, they would have issues if amd and intel didn't do this trick, the same goes for most of the hardware pieces

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19:30 Apr-21-2014

Corsair has good user-friendly CPU water cooling starting from 60€.

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14:38 Apr-22-2014

the cooling capacities of this water cooling (seidon 120v) is'nt better then air cooling and some air cooling is even better

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18:21 Apr-21-2014

I was looking at my CPU temperature just now with HWINFO64 and noticed something amazing. The loud fan cools very well! Athlon II X2 220 CPU 0 has a temperature of 9 degrees celsius (idle) and 28 under load. ACPI CPU says 26-50 though.

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19:14 Apr-21-2014

the temp sensor from amd cpus doesn't reports correct idle temp, it should report the correct temperature under load.. after all, that's the temp that matters the most, have a taste of my freezing cpu temp, http://imgur.com/ah8a2mJ

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18:19 Apr-21-2014

Reccomended temps(during 24/7 load, stresstesting can be a bit more):
CPU AMD: 60C
CPU Intel: 75C


Nvidia GPU: 80C
AMD GPU: 85C
GPU VRM's: 105C

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19:35 Apr-21-2014

Im below them temps even with fairly high OC's on both GPU and CPU xD

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21:56 Apr-21-2014

My vrms temps alre lower than core temp O_o

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23:49 Apr-21-2014

That's cause you have a huge 14 Phase VRM, load spreaded over the phases causes less heat. 95% of the GPU's have hotter VRM than Core

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18:15 Apr-21-2014

kill de_dust ;)

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18:21 Apr-21-2014

No, kill de_dust2! I always keep cool in de_Dust though.

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17:57 Apr-21-2014

I dont thibk I wil ever have problems. I got 5 huge case fans, my gpu has a windforce 3x cooler, I got vengeance ram sticks and I got an hyper 212 with 2 coolera attached to it. I never Get over 40°C.

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18:08 Apr-21-2014

Well you invested much money in cooling

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19:10 Apr-21-2014

Yeah XD. Thats because I first had a laptop which constantly overheated. I never want to go through that horror again

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22:17 Apr-21-2014

Yeah...i had a friend which laptop died because of overheating :P
I don't have that problems,exept my GPU is running pretty hot while running some games,but nothing alarming-about 75C and 34C when idle

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23:50 Apr-21-2014

No problem at all, friend of my has a HD6950 doing 97C in a dell pc. Works fine for over 3 years now

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00:02 Apr-22-2014

97C?
You're never sure with temps like that,what can they do :P
But yeah,some GPU's are more resistant,my friend's GeForce 210 is running 60C when idle and 106C in load,he has it for 2-3 years and it still works :D

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08:49 Apr-22-2014

my laptop has become so unstable that i managed to crash my videodrivers with a 3d model from a website

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17:31 Apr-21-2014

Fried many AMD chips and GPU's with OC'ing to far but never an Intel, when i've got the money to get the 3770k im gonna try see how far i can push my 3570k till it fries a sizzles xD

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Asus ROG STRIX Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 2060 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 7 3750H 4-Core 2.3 GHz GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-6800K 6-Core 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1080 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB Edition 32GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10700 8-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Gigabyte D5 2GB 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 2070 Gigabyte Windforce 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
Ryzen 7 5800H 8-Core 3.2GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 9 3900X 12-Core 3.8GHz GeForce RTX 3070 EVGA FTW3 Ultra Gaming 8GB 32GB
80% Yes [5 votes]
| 60FPS, Low, 720p
APU A8-7410 Quad-Core Radeon R5 7410 8GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1080 MSI Gaming X 8GB Edition 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Ryzen 5 3400G 4-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX Vega 11 6GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Mobile 8GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
| 30FPS, Low,
Ryzen 5 3500U 4-Core 2.1 GHz Radeon RX Vega 8 8GB
50% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-10400 6-Core 2.90GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
33.3333% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i7-7700K 4-Core 4.2GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-10300H 4-Core 2.50GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
Athlon II X2 245 GeForce GTS 250 4GB