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How Hot Should CPU Be When Gaming?

As an avid gamer, I know how important it is to keep your computer running at optimal temperatures. Recently, I’ve been running into some issues with my CPU getting too hot when gaming. After doing some research, I’ve put together a guide on how hot your CPU should be when gaming and some tips and tricks on how to keep it at the perfect level. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing my experiences and the solutions I’ve found to make sure your CPU doesn’t overheat while you’re gaming.

While gaming, a normal CPU temperature should be between 142°F and 164°F (61°C and 73°C). A higher temperature can cause the CPU to overheat, so a good rule of thumb is to keep the CPU temperature below 176°F (80°C).

Ideal CPU Temperature142°F to 164°F (61°C to 73°C)
Maximum Safe Temperature176°F (80°C)
Danger ZoneAbove 194°F (90°C)
Check CPU TemperatureUse BIOS settings or software like Core Temp
High CPU Temperature RisksSlowing, thermal throttling, damage to internal hardware, shortened lifespan
Reduce CPU Temperature1. Change CPU location for better ventilation
2. Use a CPU cooler (air or liquid)
3. Reduce CPU usage by closing background programs

How Hot Should CPU Be When Gaming?

The average temperature of your CPU while gaming should be between 142°F and 164°F (61°C and 73°C). As long as the cooling fans aren’t in overdrive, your CPU should be fine between 165°F and 176°F (74°C and 80°C).

The CPU is at risk of overheating if the temperature rises above 176°F (80°C). In that case, the CPU may experience thermal throttle, which is a safeguard that reduces power automatically to cool the unit. While the throttling will protect the CPU from overheating, it can cause game lag.

When the CPU temperature exceeds 194°F (90°C), it’s at risk of permanent damage. Such high temperatures are likely to cause the CPU to freeze, but it could also shut down.

Having said that, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the “perfect CPU temperature” for gaming. Each processor model has a different operating temperature when gaming.

For example, the AMD Duron normal temperature range is between 185°F and 203°F (85°C and 95°C). The Intel Pentium 4, on the other hand, has a temperature range between 111°F and 149°F (44°C and 65°C).

That’s why we recommend keeping CPU temperatures between 122°F and 158°F (50°C and 70°C).

How to Check CPU Temperature

You can check the temperature of your CPU by doing the following:

  1. Click the Settings gear from the taskbar
  2. Select Update & Security
  3. Select the Recovery tab from the side panel
  4. Click Restart now under Advanced startup
  5. Choose Troubleshoot from the menu
  6. Click Advanced options
  7. Select UEFI Firmware Settings
  8. Hit Restart and you’ll find your CPU temperature under PC Health Status or System Hardware Monitor

A faster and easier way to check CPU temperature is by using an app called Core Temp. All you have to do is download and launch Core Temp. You’ll find the temperatures of your processors at the widget’s bottom. You can also find them in the taskbar’s hidden icons.

Is a High CPU Temperature Dangerous When Gaming?

The short answer is yes, a high CPU temperature can be dangerous when gaming. High CPU temperatures, in general, can cause slowing and even irreparable damage to the internal hardware.

Luckily, processors like Intel and AMD contain safeguards that prevent the CPU from heating up too much. However, thermal throttle has caveats depending on model and BIOS settings, so the following safeguard to prevent CPU overheating is automatic shutdown.

As we’ve discussed above, high heat is relative to the model of a processor. As a result, if your processor is built to withstand high temperatures, it can take longer for the CPU to enter the danger zone.

What’s more, keep in mind that your CPU’s lifespan won’t immediately decrease if it overheats once when you’re gaming. That said, constant throttling and high voltages can shorten the CPU’s lifespan to a few months or a year at most.

So, if your CPU overheats and experiences thermal throttles often, you should investigate the cause of the problem and try to reduce its temperature.

How to Reduce CPU Temperature When Gaming

There are several ways to reduce CPU temperature and even prevent it from heating while gaming:

Change CPU’s Location

One of the most common causes of CPU overheating is a lack of ventilation. So, the first step in lowering CPU temperature is to place your gaming setup in an area with plenty of breathing room.

You want to put the computer somewhere where air can flow freely, away from tight corners or next to clumped objects.

Not to mention your CPU can accumulate more dust in cramped, poorly ventilated spaces. This can cause dust buildup, which can obstruct airflow and cause your CPU to overheat.

Use a CPU Cooler

A high-quality CPU cooler can keep your CPU’s temperature within a normal range, preventing it from overheating while gaming.

CPU coolers are classified into air coolers and liquid coolers. Air coolers draw heat away from the CPU and disperse it with a fan. They’re more common and less expensive.

In contrast, liquid coolers circulate cooling liquid through the CPU. They require more time and money, but they’re more energy-efficient and quieter.

Reduce CPU Usage

Any programs running in the background while gaming can increase CPU usage, which can raise CPU temperature to dangerous levels.

As a result, it’s best to shut down any programs you’re not using while gaming. Here’s how to check for and close any unwanted programs:

  1. Hold Ctrl + Alt + DEL
  2. Select Task Manager
  3. Click any unwanted program and hit End Task

In Conclusion

So, how hot should CPU be when gaming? When gaming, normal CPU temperatures should range between 142°F and 164°F (61°C and 73°C). Your CPU may be capable of handling higher temperatures, but it’s best not to exceed 176°F (80°C) to avoid overheating. 

Still, because different CPUs can handle different amounts of heat, a good rule of thumb is to keep CPU temperature between 122°F and 158°F (50°C and 70°C).

Most importantly, avoid causing any damage to your hardware by taking any steps that can prevent your CPU from overheating and maintain optimal performance while gaming.