Up For Debate - How hot should your CPU and GPU be running whilst gaming?

Written by Chad Norton on Sun, Nov 29, 2020 5:00 PM
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Thermals. It’s something that we all talk about a lot when it comes to PC hardware and gaming but is not exactly always obvious. You build a new PC, you buy all the new parts necessary, put it all together in the right places and plug it all in with the right cables. Then you turn it on and bite your nails, will your PC get fried for some reason?

Okay well in this case it didn’t at least, but the next question is then usually…

What is the temperature of your new PC’s graphics card and processor running at idle? And how hot should your CPU and GPU be running whilst gaming?

Unfortunately, the answers to those questions are varied and influenced by any number of factors including your geographical climate, your PC case, as well as if you have water cooling or whether you use stock cooling solutions. Sometimes even the hardware manufacturer you buy from can influence the temperature your components run at.

Obviously the GPU and CPU will be working at their best when they’re not reaching their maximum temperatures, so it’s up to us to figure out what the exact sweet spot is and how to lower those temps. Lower temperatures also means you have the ability to overclock, allowing your CPU or GPU to reach higher clock speeds and potentially gain even more performance at the cost of increasing their temperature one again.

Another thing we should consider though is how much should we actually care about these components overheating and how much money we should spend trying to lower them? Because in the end does it really matter?

Of course, increased temperatures mean potential damage to your hardware that can reduce its lifespan. Both graphics cards and processors are at risk of dying out before their expected life cycle if they sustain too high temperatures for long periods of time. Overclocking components can result in higher temperatures as well, which can add to that same risk of dying out early.

So with all that said, what do we all think is a suitable temperature for our GPUs and CPUs to run at whilst idle and even whilst gaming? For instance, what would be an acceptable temperature for our GPU when running some of the most demanding games of today for a few hours like Assassins Creed: Valhalla, Red Dead Redemption 2, or even the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077?

Laptops are also a whole other scenario, as they generally suffer the most from high temperatures and overheating. On top of potentially burning the hairs off your legs, this can result in weaker performance in-game, so it’s always something to think about when shopping for a new mobile gaming laptop.

We have some polls below to vote for what you think the expected temperatures for each component at idle and gaming should be. But since this is a pretty broad and open ended question, we encourage you to tell us how you feel in the discussion are below for a more in depth analysis as well as helping out our fellow PC gamers in need.

Lastly, we’d love to hear from you what you use to monitor your hardware temperatures, whether that be some official software you use or a third-party monitoring device? And which one is the best?

This time last year we asked the same question to you guys and got some interesting answers. So with the launch of the new RTX 30 series and Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards as well as the Ryzen 5000 series processors we thought we could bring this topic back up and see how much has changed.

So what do you think? How hot should your CPU and GPU be running whilst gaming? And how hot should each run whilst at idle? What are the biggest factors that contribute to higher temperatures? And what are some effective, low cost ways to keep temps down in a typical household? Let’s debate!

What would you say is an acceptable GPU temperature? Whilst gaming

What would you say is an acceptable CPU temperature? Whilst gaming

What would you say is an acceptable GPU temperature? Whilst idle

What would you say is an acceptable CPU temperature? Whilst idle

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22:59 Dec-01-2020

Stock 10700K i have a water cooler on it and it at idle is only at 28c to 30 gaming it goes up to 36c


the 1080 idles around 40 to 44c and gets up to 70 to 74c lowest while gaming ive seen on mine was 68c i cap my fps to 100 most games cause i dont like using 99% of anything lol

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11:52 Dec-01-2020

Stock 10700K stock with Noctua NH-U12A highest i've seen in summer during gaming was 62-63C. On 2070S stock 70C with slightly tuned fancurve at max ever.

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09:58 Dec-01-2020

66C is the hottest my CPU has gotten, and 80C is the hottest my GPU has reached, my case has 2 intake and 1 exhaust fan, and my CPU cooler is the Hyper 212 Evo

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21:12 Nov-30-2020

With 2 intake fans and 1 exhaust, I was getting 85 degrees on overwatch on my GPU. Adding a second exhaust fan, temps dropped to 70-75 and fans are much quieter

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10:51 Nov-30-2020

Im running 1,4voltage on my cpu 90 degrees when gaming. Don’t even care

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09:50 Nov-30-2020

65C when overclcoked to 3.8 ghz on cpu intensive titles and 81C on the gpu , 27C room temp

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07:30 Nov-30-2020

I use a Coolermaster Hyper 212 LED. Gaming temps (at 100% load) goes up to 74C (Origins & Odyssey). Under normal loads (50-80% most games) it hovers around 65C. GPU is mostly less than 60 in all games I have played with the 2070 Super at 1080p. Both idle at around 38C because of the ambient temperature of the tropics and lack of AC.

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16:22 Dec-01-2020

That does give you a ton of headroom for overclocking the GPU if needed.
Mine also has a ton of headroom, as I think it uses the exact same cooler from the GTX 980. Under normal conditions, it ran at 60 degrees with a fan speed of under 50%. I overclocked it to boost clocks (1531MHz) and it runs between 70-75 degrees, depending on the room temperature and how hard the game is towards the GPU (so far, Minecraft with shaders hits the hardest, peaking GPU temps at 80C). Fan speed is around 50 to 60%

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07:24 Nov-30-2020

Out of curiosity how often do you guys open up your Rig to clean it up and what what do you guys do? Take out fans clean the dust nets or even PC components? I knew a guys who regularly removed his CPU fan For Reapplication of Thermal paste

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07:27 Nov-30-2020

Personally speaking when i was in college I used to clean it every 1-2 months Dust nets, case fans remove the Graphic card, ram, HDD, now that i am working full time, I havent cleaned my pc since a year. weekends used to be for cleaning now

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07:29 Nov-30-2020

if am lucky i get a good gaming session in or stuck with family

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07:33 Nov-30-2020

I would say once a year. Inexperienced hands can cause more problems than solutions so I take it for a cleanup once a year. Never seen any temp trouble as a result of dust so far. Temps before and after cleanup are almost exactly the same.

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09:37 Nov-30-2020

After installing my GPU a year ago, I haven't even opened my case. Seeing trough the side window it seems there just isn't any dust even now. The dust filters outside the case get a bit dusty though so I wipe them clean from time to time. Thanks to positive air pressure(3 intake fans, 1 exhaust fan) dust doesn't really get inside the PC.


My CPU and GPU both stay under 70c, usually even below 60c when gaming/rendering. So I guess the way I'm doing things is just fine.

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09:43 Dec-01-2020

yup i agree no matter how clean my system was earlier to how messy it is now i dont see any difference in temps or performance at all

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16:25 Dec-01-2020

I clean the filters with the vacuum when I'm cleaning the house and once a year I open up the side to clean the inside with moisturized paper (only the large sections). If you have a compressor, it's amazing and quick to use tool to clean the dust off your mobo and coolers. I don't have one, so it's too much hassle to clean with a brush or other tools for literally zero benefits. (I won't notice if my CPU is running 1 degree cooler, the fans keep spinning at the same rate).

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15:06 Dec-02-2020

im abit overkill when it comes to cleaning the pc i actually do every single week on sundays just because i want my pc to look new all the time using compressor but im not taking out any parts

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07:10 Nov-30-2020

I'm using a Noctua NH-D15 for my CPU cooler. Keeps my CPU temperatures below 30C on idle, and under 70C while gaming. My GPU stays below 30C on idle, and under 65C while gaming. I set fairly aggressive fan curves, but I also use headphones, so they don't bother me that much.

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06:06 Nov-30-2020

Can't vote guys. Im using the smartphone. And yes, im logged.

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03:22 Nov-30-2020

Since buying a AIO for my GPU and CPU, Its been nice to not have to worry about temp. CPU temp max's at 67 and GPU at 41

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02:31 Nov-30-2020

This vastly depends on hardware, but generally anything below 70C is amazing, below 80C is still good. Below 90C is ok, but once you are getting close to 90C it is time to think about improving cooling and of course anything above is just bad and should be fixed. Unless it is laptop, where thermal throttling is pretty normal and silicon is designed for it.

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02:35 Nov-30-2020

As for idle, I usually don't really care about it, anything below 50C is fine, depending on CPU, Ryzens tent to fluctuate due to how boost works, but as long as it is fine under load, I am not bothered by it. Unlike Intel which will stay in low state, meaning it will of course idle cooler. So mostly it just matters that it is fine under load, so you know cooler can ramp up and handle it.

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02:38 Nov-30-2020

Of course under load, ideally you will want as low temperatures as possible, since this will allow boosting to go few notches higher and not drop few as you reach max temperature. So in case of graphic cards for example, you also need to mind temperature,since they have temperature target and will downclock, plus boosting tables will also take effect.So ideally you want to at least stay under 80C.

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02:41 Nov-30-2020

Or whatever your temperature target is. And if temperatures get high or frequencies drop, clean out PC, if it is old card or CPU, paste change might be needed. Also if that doesn't do it think about additional case fans, or even case with better airflow, for CPU, maybe better cooler too, for graphic card always check reviews so you don't get the hottest model. Or cheap way, open side panel. :-D

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02:13 Nov-30-2020

what the F is F?

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07:21 Nov-30-2020

Fahrenheit

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22:05 Nov-30-2020

That or I just call it temperature in American. My rough guideline, if I don't feel like asking Google is to take C and double it and add 30 if that will still be below 100 or add 20 if that gets you above 100. Yeah, you could use math, but it is close enough. :-D

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01:18 Nov-30-2020

People worry too much about temps as long as you are bellow specified tj-max you are fine. I usually leave some headroom for summer season, so 80-85c is fine for cpus and 80ish celcius for gpus.

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02:18 Nov-30-2020

+1. As long as you're not throttling/downlocking - you're fine. People try to invent some magic "60'C" or "70'C" number, but nobody ever thinks about the many many variables involved - dye size, clocks, summer/winter, case airflow, cooling type, acceptable noise levels, etc. Cooler is better, obviously, but there's no need to turn up that fan curve if you get the same performance with a more silent one.

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10:48 Dec-01-2020

yep exactly, you could make an argument that running cpu at it tj-max limit may reduce longevity out of your motherboard but i wouldnt worry too much about it.

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15:37 Dec-01-2020

I can't comment, as I've friend 3x i7-5960X CPUs over the years in 2 systems. Not sure if the chips are not great or if I'm pushing them too hard xD

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15:38 Dec-01-2020

fried* (couldn't edit or delete the comment for some reason)

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21:29 Dec-01-2020

Thats just tough luck imo, out of all components cpus almost never die, yes with massive oc you could degrade it but i heard so few occasions when cpus just die.

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23:39 Nov-29-2020

Unless you go for high overclocks or CPU/GPU have low Tj-max, high temperatures like 80-90C is totally acceptable
it may not be as quiet or efficient to run CPU/GPU that hot but it is fine.


And for idle I prefer having my CPU or GPU fans to stop running (or run at lowest rpm possible) to keep my system quiet, I usually get 50C instead of 20-30C

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23:30 Nov-29-2020

I have fond memories of replacing my cpu cooler from stock to a cheap but high performing cooler. Went from 80ish to 40ish. And got much much quieter too.


I game on a laptop now and it gets pretty toasty, topping at 80-85 mostly. And those fans keep going! Desktop really is ideal for gaming :)

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21:58 Nov-29-2020

My gpu used to top at 64c but now after 3 years it tops at 69c maybe i will need to repast it. my cpu tops at 54

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02:20 Nov-30-2020

Dust in the radiator/fans also reduces the thermal output, so I'd check that first, before repasting, especially if you haven't cleaned them over the years.

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10:36 Nov-30-2020

I have but i do vape a lot and dust build up faster but i will leave it until summer. its nice and warm now. i put me feet on the tower

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21:44 Nov-29-2020

Since I use RTX voice, I often see my gpu idle temperatures rise over 40 degrees, even when I'm not using it (mic's phantom power is turned off). I didn't notice performance issues while gaming, so I'm really happy with RTX voice, it works amazingly well.

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02:21 Nov-30-2020

What's been your experience using it?

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13:29 Nov-30-2020

Amazing. It has literally no quality loss (I'm using a BM800 mic with a Behringer UMC22 amplifier). Mech keyboard and mouse clicks are just gone. No performance loss in games so far. I tried Krisp (the implemented version in Discord), but that really reduces the quality. RTX Voice works very well under Cuda, so even you can run it.

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13:43 Nov-30-2020

I think I should be able to run RTX Voice on Tensor, as I do have a Turing GPU.
We also have the same audio interface :) Though I'm looking into the UMC 204HD.
Is RTX Voice something you can only use with Shadowplay streaming/recording, or elsewhere?

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16:17 Dec-01-2020

It works fine over discord, microsoft Teams and the windows mic recorder app. It's systemwide.


I do recommend to disable RTX voice if you do not use it (don't let it run in the background), as it really actively uses the GPU. This will greatly decrease battery life on laptops with hybrid graphics and also make your fans go spin for no reason.

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20:18 Nov-29-2020

Idle: 40.C Load: 80.C CPU
Idle: 40.C Load: 65.C GPU


Using a be quite LP CPU cooler...

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19:29 Nov-29-2020

How hot your PC should run depends on the max temperatures of your components. As far as you ask me, as low as I can get them. I've always made decent effort to make sure my case is as ventilated as possible, and components as cool as I can get them. I bought an NH-D15 for my CPU and GPU is 1080Ti Super Jetstream from Palit, which has a pretty beefy cooler. Under full load it doesn't go over 74C, while still very quiet, and my CPU hardly hits 65C under heavy load.

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Core i7-920 Quad 2.67GHz GeForce GTX 970 4GB 24GB
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Ryzen 5 5600X 6-Core 3.7GHz Radeon RX 580 Sapphire Nitro+ 4GB 16GB
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Core i9-10900K 10-Core 3.7GHz GeForce RTX 3090 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 24GB 32GB
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Ryzen 7 5800X 8-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 6900 XT 16GB 32GB
Ryzen 5 2600 GeForce GTX 1660 Ti MSI Ventus XS OC 6GB 16GB
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Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 6GB Edition 32GB
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