Dangerous, normal & safe CPU temperature ranges

The majority of people who own computers rarely are they disturbed by the performance of their CPUs or even factors that affect the performance.

When it operates at optimal conditions a computer runs smoothly completing the tasks assigned as efficiently as designed. The most critical factor to a CPU is temperature levels with higher ones slowing down operations and to some extent leading to its overall shut down as a mechanism of preventing it from getting ruined.

Getting to know your computer temperature is very easy because modern motherboards come with preinstalled thermal sensors that give accurate real time readings. However, to get the readings you need to install software applications tailor-made to give the accurate readings in windows since older Windows versions don’t have built-in apps that can read and report it while the computer is in use.

circuit board

What should the component’s temp be & what is good?

There is no single CPU temperature that is said to be the optimal, however, there are ones that you can work with depending on the model of your computer processor and the tasks it is running at the time.

For instance, a gaming model, while in use, have a higher ranges compared to one that is idling at the time. Ones that are in use will in most cases have a higher temperature compared to the ones that are idling at the time.

Good temperatures, or an acceptable range, for idling PCs vary with the conditions of the room, or at times get up to 10º Celsius above the surrounding conditions. For PCs that are not heavily engaged, conditions higher than 60º C indicate that the system may be overheating, and you would want to take measures to prevent it from getting damaged.

Modern computers have been designed to handle several tasks at once as well as manage relatively higher ranges without malfunctioning or shutting some down. Slimmer laptop models such as the MacBook will handle relatively higher temperatures and at the same time perform as expected.

Some processors can comfortably manage their tasks in conditions as high as 90º C without shutting down some operations or tasks.

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How hot should it get?

The temperature can be used as a dipstick on how well or poorly it functions under intense operations such as video rendering and gaming playing. However, it is normal for them to get hot while being used, especially under intense operations.

While under straining conditions, it can get as hot as 90º C and some newer models can sustain internal conditions of about 110º C. It is advisable that you reduce the functions of your system once it gets to 90º C to protect it from getting destroyed.

Also, at extremely high temperatures, it starts to malfunction and might ultimately shut for self-preservation because such conditions significantly reduces the component’s lifespan.

Why is it running at 100%?

It is quite abnormal to have a CPU that is running at 100% capacity which ultimately leads to the processor becoming unnaturally slow and being unable to run its processes comfortably. A computer running at 100% could be running so many tasks at once, or having a task that requires a lot of attention from the CPU cores thus taking nearly all of them.

Some of the common causes it is running at 100% include the following;

computer fan

Reasons for 100% usage

  • Too many background processes

Background processes are those that run on the processor but not opened by any window. As you use your Windows or OS there always will be programs that run in the background to support the smooth running of your PC for the programs that you are using to operate smoothly.

With time while using your PC you add more software and consequently the background operations increase and after some time you may end up having more than your PC can support. At such a time, the usage increases significantly and may start to malfunction or run basic tasks slower than is usual.

  • Svchost.exe (netsvcs) process

Scvhost.exe has been attributed by many users as a cause for high CPU usage and as such one needs to check it out in the event of high levels of stress on your PC. You can check it out in the Task Manager to find out if it is in your processor already.

If it is already there you can stop it from running and assign it only one core.

  • WMI Provider Host (WmiprvSE.EXE)

This is a service that a PC cannot run without because it helps run applications and without it the applications cannot run. At times WMI may have prolonged high CPU usage due to another software requesting for lot of data from it.

In the event of prolonged high CPU usage, it is usually an indication that all is not well and corrective measures need to be done to achieve normal usage. You might have to restart your computer to achieve normal usage.

  • Annoying Virus or Antivirus

There are some viruses that lead to high CPU usage slowing down your activities while on the PC. You can at times also find an antivirus that is causing high usage. In case of such a situation you are advised to clear the virus. If it is caused by the antivirus you can restart the antivirus to see if it can possibly reduce its strain.

  • System Idle Process

System Idle Process is usually an indication of how many resources are ready for use in a PC. The higher the System Idle percentage the more the resources are available for use in the CPU. System Idle process is a way of utilizing resources as it awaits to be assigned tasks.

electrical components

Is 60, 70, 80 or 100 degrees Celsius hot and dangerous?

As previously indicated, rarely can you find a CPU temperature that is deemed to be dangerous for a CPU unless it is too high. For instance, modern Intel and AMD (ryzen) processors can handle conditions as high as 100 degrees Celsius, which were previously viewed as too high.

However, for a PC that is idling at temperatures of 60, 70, 80 or 100 degrees Celsius are too hot for its CPU and a suitable remedy needs to be found so as to get the component working back at normal levels. Acceptable levels in terms of an idling one is a maximum of about 10 degrees Celsius above the ambient temperature. This will indicate that your system is likely capable of getting rid of excess heat, thereby ensuring its longevity.

For CPUs in use for normal activities that do not strain it, ones as high as 60 degrees Celsius and at 70 are allowable depending on the tasks it is performing.

For activities that engage it at extremely high levels, such as if you are gaming, the range in which it starts becoming dangerous for your unit will vary depending on the model. Newer models will operate optimally at temperatures as high as 90 degrees or even 100. However, when you start going higher than 100 degrees Celsius, you start entering an area that is too high and dangerous.

The optimal range for operation of most CPUs, whether Intel or AMD, ranges between 85 to 95 degrees Celsius at full load and 40 to 50 degrees Celsius while idling.

What are the normal ranges while gaming?

Normal temperatures while gaming have evolved over time getting higher and with the introduction of GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit) normal gaming temperatures have increased leaving processor designers with the task of increasing the strain computers can function under while performing extremely high work loads.

The normal condition, while gaming, is around 80 degrees Celsius, and for ones higher than this you need to start looking into ways on how to reduce the stress on the CPU to avoid any damage that may be caused by extreme conditions.

You can achieve the normal range while gaming by reducing some processor activities or improving its design to get better cooling.

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How to check it?

There are two main ways of checking the temperature which include checking through downloaded monitoring programs or through BIOS settings. Checking it is done with the help of the Thermal Sensors that come preinstalled with the motherboard.

BIOS Settings on Windows 10 pc 

Checking CPU temperature is a new feature in Windows that was recently included in Windows 10. You can easily use the Task Manager to check it, where you can even check it for the GPU as well.

To check, Open the Task Manager, click the ‘Performance’ tab and look for the CPU and GPU as listed in their respective sections.

BIOS mode of temperature checking is however not suitable for stress testing as you have to go to the task manager to check it when off the apps.

Third party apps

You can download 3rd party apps like the Prime95 to check the GPU and CPU temperatures while at work. The apps can be used to stress check the GPU at abnormal levels to check its behavior while under load. The tasks get simulated to about 100% and the real values of the CPU while under load can be determined.

You can also use the third-party programs to see what it is while under normal use. If you are only interested in checking the conditions of your CPU you can disable the Stress checking bit.

How to lower it

There are several measures that can be put in place to lower it, even while in use under high work loads.  The measures if well followed can also be used to regulate the temperature and avoid having them getting high.

inside a computer

Relocate your setup

The position of your PC in a room determines the temperature to a very large extent, and if well placed it can help reduce the chances of overheating.

Ensure that the position of your setup is not blocked by anything to get free air circulation within reach of the fans and enable easier and more efficient air supply to the fans. Relocating the PC allows proper movement of air for fans to draw in enough and expel the air for optimal cooling. You can also place it close by a casement air conditioner so as to ensure there is enough cold air passing by it, while observing whether your system gets colder as a consequence as well.

Clean out dust

A PC just like any other equipment accumulates dust when left stationary for a long time and dust makes it hard for fans to operate by obstructing its movement. You are generally required to clean the dust from the fans.

You can clean the fans by blowing compressed air over them so as to remove the dust. It is advisable to clean the fans outside the house or in the garage to avoid dust accumulation in the house.

Get a bigger tower

At times you might have your PC at constantly high temperatures even while idling which shows lack of enough air circulating through the fans in the CPU tower. The fans could also be maxed out leaving no room for additional fans to be installed in the tower.

When looking for a new tower look for one that can handle more fans for better circulation and if possible, acquiring one that has side mounted fans is better.

Fan position

Proper fan positioning gives your setup an advantage of fast cooling by ensuring that hot air is not trapped in the tower. Top and side fans can be designed in a way that they draw in cool air while the bottom and side fans can be designed to expel hot air from the tower.

Boost fan speed

Computer fans usually come at a preset speed determined for cooling of the PC while in operation. If you intend to continuously use it at enhanced usage levels, you can enhance the fan speed through programs or externally for external fans.

Keep case closed

Opening the tower casing might look as a good cooling method but it is not advisable or as effective as expected. With proper fan positioning and tightly closed tower there will be a clear pathway for sucking in cool air and blowing out hot air as is needed.

Proper cable management

Proper cable management does not only aid in keeping the component cool but also gives an aesthetical look to the arrangement in the tower. With a neat wire arrangement and if kept as advised there will be sufficient space for efficient air circulation for optimal operations.

Replace thermal paste

Thermal paste is applied between CPU and coolers to help have the temperatures remain low while in use. With continued use the paste dries off losing its cooling capabilities thus the need for its replacement.

To apply, first rub off the older paste using isopropyl alcohol then apply the new coat in X shape at the positions.


The allowable temperature ranges can be easily subdivided into three categories according to its use;

  1. While idling
  2. Normal use
  3. Under high load

While idling, the expected temperature is about a maximum of 45 degrees Celsius or 10 degrees above how hot your room is.

Under normal use, the normal maximum operating temperature is about 60 degrees Celsius or lower depending on the condition of your unit.

At full capacity some models such as the Intel i7 can handle temperatures as high as 95 degrees but it is advisable to have it remain below 85 to reduce the chances of the component getting spoiled fast. If it exceeds 85, look for cooling remedies to make sure that your system gets the adequate cooling and protective measures it deserves!

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