Optimal CPU/GPU Temperature For Gaming
Sometimes we forget how important it is keeping our core hardware running at optimal temperatures. It can benefit your system in a number of different ways ranging from better performance to an extended life span. Having said that, it isn't always straight forward keeping your hardware cool - especially when you factor in scenarios like gaming and increasing ambient temperatures. #climatechange.
So, what's the best way to keep my PC parts cool?
Thankfully, there's a ton of different ways in which we can improve the cooling of our systems - all of which will be covered in this article. Alongside that, we'll also be covering how you can track your internal temps, how to optimize your PC for better cooling, and some other helpful tips on cooling that you may not know.
So, let's stop waffling on and jump straight into it.
What Temperature Should My PC Parts Be While Gaming?
As most will already know, gaming applies a lot of extra stress onto your PC's components - especially the CPU and GPU. That stress, in most cases, transfers directly into heat. While gaming, your hardware needs to operate at a higher rate to ensure performance levels are met. So, naturally, your components get much hotter.
But, what temperature should my hardware be while gaming? It's one of the big questions we get asked around here and one that we felt needed answering in more detail.
We decided to round up as many CPUs and GPUs as possible and put all the data we could find in one easy-to-follow chart. This will give you the tools required to know whether or not your components are running too hot.
NOTE: We sourced some data from manufacturer websites as well as in house records.
Ideal CPU Temperature While Gaming
It doesn't matter whether you're running an AMD or Intel processor, the temperature threshold for all processors varies greatly. These days, the optimal CPU temperature for gaming should not exceed 176°F (80°C) and on average, should run anywhere between 167°-176°F (75°-80°C). In certain situations, CPUs do have the potential to run a little hotter, though. Long gaming sessions and overclocking (something we'll touch upon later) will result in slightly higher average temps.
With that in mind, below we have a table showing the available data of both Intel and AMD processors along with their average temperatures.
Intel Processor Temperature
|Intel Processor||Average Temperature in Fahrenheit||Average Temperature in Celsius|
|Intel Pentium Pro||165.2°F - 186.8°F||74°C - 86°C|
|Intel Pentium II||147.2°F - 167°F||64°C - 75°C|
|Intel Pentium III||140°F - 185°F||60°C - 85°C|
|Intel Pentium 4||111°F - 149°F||44°C - 65°C|
|Intel Pentium Mobile||158°F - 185°F||70°C - 85°C|
|Intel Core 2 Duo||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|Intel Celeron||149°F - 185°F||65°C - 85°C|
|Intel Core i3||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|Intel Core i5||122°F - 145.4°F||50°C - 63°C|
|Intel Core i7||122°F - 150.8°F||50°C - 66°C|
AMD Processor Temperature
|AMD Processor||Average Temperature in Fahrenheit||Average Temperature in Celsius|
|AMD A6||113°F - 134.6°F||45°C - 57°C|
|AMD A10||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD Athlon 64||113°F - 140°F||45°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|AMD Athlon 64 Mobile||176°F - 194°F||80°C - 90°C|
|AMD Athlon FX||113°F - 140°F||45°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon II X4||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon MP||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD Athlon XP||176°F - 194°F||80°C - 90°C|
|AMD Duron||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD K5||140°F - 158°F||60°C - 70°C|
|AMD K6||140°F - 158°F||60°C - 70°C|
|AMD K6 Mobile||167°F - 185°F||75°C - 85°C|
|AMD K7 Thunderbird||158°F - 203°F||70°C - 95°C|
|AMD Opteron||149°F - 159.8°F||65°C - 71°C|
|AMD Phenom II X6||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|AMD Phenom X3||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Phenom X4||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Sempron||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
Ideal GPU Temperature While Gaming
Thanks to modern gaming, PC games now draw most of their performance demands from the GPU - something that, historically, wasn't always the case.
Looking back, games used to rely on the CPU for their performance requirements. However, thanks to a recent change in architecture, games now rely much more heavily on GPUs to drive frame rates. Naturally, that has had a knock-on effect on the manufacturers themselves - with consumers now demanding much more power and better cooling solutions across the board.
AMD and Nvidia are two brands that have been producing GPUs for as long as I can remember - with Nvidia, for the most part, dominating the market. Having said that, AMD has leveled the playing field over the last couple of years thanks to their latest range of Navi GPUs. Thanks to such fierce competition between the two brands, we're seeing much more powerful cards being released from both sides. Which, for the most part, is great news.
However, aftermarket GPU manufacturers now have to provide even better cooling to try and counterbalance the extra heat these cards generate. This leads to a wide array of varying average temperatures across the board - giving you as a consumer, even more things to think about during an upgrade purchase.
With that in mind, AIB's usually cap the max temp of their GPUs to around 203°F (95°C). This is done to try and avoid any permanent damage occurring to the GPU itself. Having said that, the optimal GPU temperature for gaming shouldn't exceed 185°F (85°C), even if some are rated at higher.
Keeping everything in mind, let's take a look at some of the contributing factors that create heat within the GPU:
- Playing very stressful GPU-dependant games
- The quality of the GPU's cooling design
- Your ambient temperature
- The quality of your case
- How many case fans you have
- Quality of airflow
The list actually goes on, but these are the most affecting factors for increased GPU heat while gaming. To ensure temps are kept at optimal levels, you really want to create a level playing field across all these factors. That way, you'll give your system the absolute best chance of staying cool.
Anyway, we've put together the following two tables to showcase both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs with their rated max temperatures.
NVIDIA Maximum temperature
|NVIDIA||Maximum Temperature in Fahrenheit||Maximum Temperature in Celsius|
|RTX 2080 Ti||192.2°F||89°C|
|Titan X (Pascal, 2016)||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 1080 Ti||195.8°F||91°C|
|GTX 1080, GTX 1070 Ti, and GTX 1070||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX Titan X (Maxwell, 2015)||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 980 Ti||195.8°F||91°C|
|GTX 1060 6GB and GTX 1060 3GB||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 780 Ti and GTX 780||203°F||95°C|
|GTX 1050 Ti and both GTX 1050 (3GB and 2GB)||206.6°F||97 °C|
|GTX 760, GTX 660, and GTX 660 Ti||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 480 and GTX 570||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 750 Ti||203°F||95°C|
|GTX 560 Ti||210.2°F||99°C|
|GTX 560 Ti (448 Cores||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 650 Ti||221°F||105°C|
|GT 740 and GT 740 (DDR5)||208.4°F||98°C|
|GTX 550 Ti||212°F||100°C|
|GT 640 (DDR5)||203°F||95°C|
|GT 730 (DDR3, 128-bit), GT 730 (DDR3, 64-bit), and GT 730 (DDR5)||208.4°F||98°C|
The Two Types Of GPU Air-Cooling Solutions
As you can see from the table above, max temps vary greatly from one card to another. To try and keep those temps as low as possible, GPUs rely on one of two styles of cooling design - Blower fan, and open-air fan.
Below is how the two styles of cooling differ:
- Blower Fan - The blower fan is often seen on a “reference card.” The blower fan takes the air from inside the case and blows it out through the rear vents on the back of the GPU card.
This is a great way of preventing the buildup of heat inside your case, but they can be louder, slower, and run about 5°C hotter than an Open Air system (aftermarket cards).
- Open-Air - takes air from above the fans and blows it out to the sides (see image above).
As a general rule of thumb, open-air cooling is quieter, faster, and runs 5°C cooler than the Blower Fan solution. They also have a much wider range of aesthetic styles, fin designs, and customization options via GPU software.
Ensuring that the airflow in your case is well optimized (not obstructed by cables) is essential to your GPUs ability to cool itself. Not having a clean airflow throughout the case will lead to poor cooling efficiency - which could, ultimately, lead to an underperforming GPU.
So, Which Type Of Air-Cooling Solution You Should Get?
For gaming, you should almost always invest in an aftermarket GPU with an open-air cooling design. This will ensure lower temps across the board and will physically increase the performance and lifespan of your hardware. Not to mention they look more aesthetically pleasing. Even if your case doesn't offer the best airflow, we still recommend this over a blower-style fan design.
Your case's airflow can be fixed over time with a few subtle changes. A GPU with a completely different cooling design, on the other hand, is a much more costly way to go about it. Alongside cooler temps, open-air cooling will also offer a quieter overall experience.
It isn't all positives for open-air cooling, though. As mentioned above, the air that passes over the GPU from an open-air design increases in temperature and then goes back into the general flow of the case. This WILL have an impact on the rest of your system, and you will likely see increased temps in other areas like the RAM and CPU.
On the other hand, if you plan on doing a lot of highly-demanding CPU related tasks (which will create excess heat), you can always purchase a blower fan GPU to expel some heat out the back of your PC. You will see slightly decreased internal temps by opting for this style of cooling. Furthermore, a smaller form factor PC build might be better suited to a blower-style fan. They are a lot smaller than open-air and won't suffocate the rest of your hardware.
All modern GPUs come with smart fans. These fans usually sit idle until temperatures reach 86°F to 104°F (30°C to 40°C). At this stage, the fans will switch on at a pre-determined speed (found in the preset profile). This greatly reduces noise output and power consumption when the system is cool.
Ways To Track the CPU/GPU Temperature When Gaming
Before addressing the temperature issues with your components, we recommend installing some helpful utilities which measure the temperature of your PC.
There are several ways to track the temp, but many of them are a pain. For instance, tracking your temps in the BIOS requires you to restart the system just to check its temperature.
As such, we’ll focus on the simplest and most reliable method based on our years of experience.
Large companies such as AMD, Nvidia, Intel, MSI, and the likes, have their own brand of utilities, which is basic software. These utilities allow you to check your CPU and GPU temperatures, among other things.
Ryzen Master Utility (AMD) and Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel) are some of the most commonly used and high-quality utilities available. These provide you with just about everything you need to see your CPU temperatures - they can even be used for overclocking.
When you need to monitor your GPU temperature, the Nvidia Control Panel and the AMD Catalyst Control Center are Nvidia and AMD’s respective control panels. They are usually installed along with the graphics card drivers. Everything you need to monitor the GPU temperature can be accessed easily from there.
Just keep in mind that you can always download the drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website in case they’re missing.
You can also download utilities made by other hardware manufacturers such as MSI Afterburner, Gigabyte Aorus Graphics Engine, Asus GPU Tweak, and more. The difference between these utilities and Ryzen Master Utility/ Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is that they are compatible with just about any GPU, regardless of the manufacturer.
This means you can use the MSI Afterburner even if you have an AMD graphics card.
They will automatically detect your hardware and returns data on your temperatures, fan speeds, voltage, load, and more.
How To Deal With High CPU/GPU Temperatures?
So, you're experiencing high temps in either your GPU or CPU and need to know how to lower them. Well, before we learn how to lower GPU temperatures or reduce heat from the CPU, make sure you know what is causing those problems in the first place.
Below are what we consider the most common reasons why CPU/GPU temperatures skyrocket:
One of the major causes of excess heat is dust buildup. If you haven't cleaned the inside of your case in a few months, dust will naturally accumulate. The dust will reach a level where it starts to affect the case's internal airflow, which, in turn, leads to less efficient internal cooling.
Dust can be a real pain as it tends to find its way into the most annoying places to clean. Our number one tip for cleaning your case is compressed air. For the most part, a hoover will get a lot of the main dust out of your PC. That being said, it won't completely get rid of case dust - that's where the compressed air comes into the equation. Simply take your case outside (to a secure dry place) and blast that dust away with compressed air.
Poor Cable Management
Another underlooked area which contributes heavily to increase CPU/GPU temperatures is your cable management - or lack of it.
If you block the airflow that goes around the GPU, then your open-air cooling design won't be able to work at optimal levels. Pair that with summer ambient temps and lack of properly optimized case fans, and your hardware temps will soon skyrocket.
Poor Airflow/ Lack of Fans
One of the easiest ways to impact your case's internal temperature is with more/better case fans. Investing in decent case fans can seriously reduce internal temps, especially if they have high CFM (cubic feet per minute) levels.
Make sure you have at least one intake fan and one exhaust fan to promote a more natural airflow throughout the case. You can go one step further and get numerous intake/exhaust fans to really bolster your cooling. We recommend doing this in scenarios where you're PC is under a lot of stress for extended periods of time.
High Ambient Temperature
One of the most important areas to consider when trying to reduce CPU/GPU temperatures is the ambient temperature. If you live in a tropical part of the world or experience extreme heat during the summer months, this can be a serious problem for your PC temperatures.
Unfortunately, there's not a great deal you can do about this unless you have a fair bit of money to invest. Air-con is a great amenity but one that will probably set you back more than the PC itself.
If this is the case, it might be time to invest in some form of water-cooled AIO. We have a bunch of great recommendations that will help you out a lot come the hotter months of the year.
I also recommend, as a minimum, to set a more aggressive fan profile using one of the utilities above.
Change Thermal Paste
If you haven’t bothered changing your CPU and GPU thermal paste within the past six months or so, then chances are it’s time you should change them.
Before changing the thermals, learn how to correctly apply thermal paste to the CPU or GPU to avoid any problematic situations.
Overclocking is one of the quickest and easiest ways to rack up the internal temps of your hardware. You are physically pushing your components to the limit, and as we've already explained, extra stress translates directly into heat.
What you might not be aware of, however, is the overclocking profiles that come built into modern hardware. GPUs and CPUs can come equipped with an OC profile, which is physically pushing the component harder than you'd expect.
During the hotter months of the year, it might be worth switching your OC profile to stock levels - especially if you're experiencing higher than average temps.
You can do this in your manufacturer utility software, or directly via the BIOS.
Do High Temps Affect Lifespan?
There's a lot of speculation around this topic, but increased temps in hardware can have a negative effect on its life span. How measurable this is is yet to be determined, but rapid changes in temp to hardware is never good at any level.
High temps can physically stretch and warp the materials of your hardware. This, in turn, can reduce the longevity of its lifespan.
Ultimately, keeping your hardware cool isn't just about performance. It can have a real impact on the lifespan as well.
So, there you have it, our comprehensive guide to optimal CPU/GPU temperatures while gaming.
While it’s true that there’s no one definite answer to “what’s the optimal CPU/GPU temperature for gaming?”, as a general rule of thumb, it's always a good idea to try and keep them as low as possible. This will ensure performance levels are always optimized, and it will actually increase the lifespan of your hardware.
Now that you know the average optimal CPU/GPU temperature for gaming, it’s time to track your CPU and GPU temperatures using the tools we recommend and follow the simple steps to stay within the safe zone. (Thanks to Juzel Albert Padilla of WePC.com)