If your computer works well, then you shouldn’t need to concern yourself with it overheating because it will have the adequate fan power or cooling system to maintain its temperature. However, you should know some basic maintenance for your system, including how to check the CPU temp.
Why do Computers get Hot?
It isn’t uncommon for a processor to get extremely hot when the system is being used. Sometimes the temperature of the CPU can exceed over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which puts the system in danger of failure. When a CPU is in use, it either allows electrical signals to pass through them, or it blocks them.
The electricity passing through or getting blocked by the processor turns into heat. Some processors turn hot because they have heavier uses, such as gaming, they are insufficiently cooled, or there is no airflow through the case. If you’ve had problems with overheating, it is important to know how to check the temperature of the CPU.
Symptoms of Hot Computers
If your PC or laptop is getting too hot, several things could happen. Among them are:
- Fans overworking to try to cool it.
- The computer is shutting down randomly.
- The case will be hot to the touch.
- Error messages may pop up while you’re using the computer.
If any of these symptoms appear, you should shut down the computer to allow it to cool off. Once it is cool, turn the system back on and check the CPU’s temperature while it is running.
How to Check CPU Temperature for Windows
There are many ways to check the temperature on your PC or laptop. One of which is to go into the system’s BIOS while it is starting. The steps for performing this action are:
- Click the Windows icon, find the power icon and press restart.
- Look for a message that indicates the computer is entering the setup mode. The wording will vary between Windows operating versions, but it should appear right after the computer has been restarted. Look for wording to indicate how to enter BIOS. It may say:
- Press [key] to enter setup.
- Setup [key].
- Enter BIOS by pressing [key].
- Press [key] for BIOS.
- Press [key] to enter system configuration.
Usually, the key will be one of the “F” keys, like F2 or F10.
- Quickly press the indicated key to enter BIOS. Do not hold the key down but press it several times to enter it.
- If your computer is too quick when entering the setup and you don’t see the information for getting into BIOS, restart the computer and press pause/break to freeze the screen. When you get the information you need, you can unpause it to press the proper keys to get into BIOS.
- When you get into BIOS, you should get a menu screen with various options. Use the arrow keys to get to a tab for computer system information.
- Search for words like “CPU temperature.” The current temperature will show on the same line. A safe temperature will be 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower (20 degrees Celsius). Temperatures as high as 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) can cause damage to your system.
You don’t have to go through the steps to enter BIOS to check the CPU’s temperature. Instead, you can download an appropriate app to check and monitor your PC’s or laptop’s temperature. Some of the top apps are:
- Core Temp
- CPU Thermometer
Several other applications can be downloaded to a Windows operating system to keep tabs on the temperature of the unit. Most of them, including those listed above, do not cost anything to use.
Checking Temperature on a Mac
Like computers using the Windows operating system (OS), there isn’t a quick, easy way to check the CPU temp on a Mac. Instead, you will need to download a tool to do the work for you. Two of the most popular apps for checking the temperature on Macs are Fanny and Terminal Utility.
Fanny is a free application that allows you to check the temperature of a Mac CPU and find information about how the fans’ function. The app appears as a menu icon, which lets you monitor the temperature, the current and maximum fan speeds, and the temperature pattern.
To use this app, locate it in the Apple store, download it and then open it. In the “Notification Center,” click on the “Edit” button located at the bottom.
The notification will read as “1 New” instead of “Edit.” Next, click on the plus button, “+,” that is located by Fanny to add it to the Notification Center. When it is set up, you will be able to monitor the CPU’s temperature with the app.
Terminal Utility App
Another free Mac app for checking the CPU’s temperature is Terminal Utility. Here are the steps for downloading it and using it to check the temperature of the CPU.
- You will need to download the source code for osx-CPU-temp. The source code can be found online as a zip file, which you will need to download to open.
- UnZip the file and launch Terminal.
- Go to the directory to extract osx-CPU-temp. An easy way to find the file is to type ‘cd’ in the folder of the extracted file. Next, type “make” to build the file.
- Once the file has been built, type in “./osx-cpu-temp” to run it. You should get a message that says, “CPU Temperature in the Terminal?” The file allows you to change the temperature setting to either Fahrenheit or Celsius. The commands to do this are: ‘./osx-cpu-temp-F’ for Fahrenheit or ‘./osx-cpu-temp-C’ for Celsius.
Any time you want to run the command, you need to type in ‘./osx-cpu-temp.’
Causes of Overheating
The CPU may overheat for several reasons, such as:
- Heavy Workloads
- Airflow problems
- CPU cooler malfunctions
- System cooler failures
A computer can overhead if it is running continuously as the amount of electricity running through the processors can generate heat and affect the temperature.
If you’re using your system to run spreadsheets, write emails, or do other office tasks, then the system is usually idle most of the time you’re working. Also, when the system is idle, the temperature rarely fluctuates if it’s operating correctly.
However, if you’re gaming, using CAD software, or doing other activities that require the processors to run constantly. Then it can cause the CPU to generate more heat and its temperature can rise to dangerous levels.
There are several cooling components in your computer that work together to prevent it from overheating.
They work to remove the heat generated by the system to the outside of the case. Although accumulated dust can restrict airflow and cause the CPU temperature to rise.
Additionally, if you suspect dust is restricting the airflow, try cleaning the case with a can of compressed air. Spray the air inside of the case and use it to clean out the inlet and exhaust ports. Blowing out the dust should get the air flowing again and keep the temperature under control.
CPU Cooler Malfunctions
There is usually a cooling system on most computers that helps to maintain the temperature of the unit. Specifically, the system consists of a fan, a heat-sink, and a thermal conductant material that transfers the heat from the CPU to the other components.
If the CPU is overheating, check the fan to make sure it is spinning. When not, it will need to be replaced. Also, if the fan is spinning, then the CPU cooler may need to be replaced. Thirdly, the way to fix the issue is to replace the thermal tape or apply a fresh coating of thermal grease.
System Cooler Failures
Two other fans keep the temperature of the CPU under control.
Accordingly, there is a case fan and a fan in the power supply that pushes hot air out of the case. If one or both fans fail, the heated air gets trapped in the case where it can cause the CPU to overheat. Certainly, this problem should be rectified by replacing the case fans.
Preventing Overheating Issues On Your CPU Temp
Finally, keeping your PC or laptop clean is the best way to prevent overheating problems. Use compressed air to get rid of dust, dirt and other debris in the case of your computer by turning it off and opening it to spray it out.
If you’re using a laptop and notice it is getting too hot, make sure it is sitting on a clean, hard surface. Having anything beneath it can prevent it from being cooled correctly and causing it to overheat and malfunction.
Additionally, check the fans on your computer by placing your hand over them as the computer is running.
Also, if you don’t feel air or hear them running, then they may need to be replaced. A computer tech can replace them if you don’t feel confident about opening your computer and working on it.
Occasionally checking the CPU temp can prevent losing a computer due to overheating. And also help you save hundreds of dollars.