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Cool to be hot

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As a relatively paranoid person who recently found out you can (and sort of should) monitor the temperatures inside your PC, the ordeal became a task of patience and research. The internet, as usual, is a vast resource of information - however in this case it is also important to note that temperatures vary wildly in the environment, too. I write this post both as a personal exercise, and so that maybe someday a new PC gamer looking for information that may be useful to them finds this and get some reassurance.

Disclosure: my paranoia is born of situation. Like many of you, I don't bleed money; getting new PC parts isn't a matter of just going out and buying a piece - family budgets come into place. To make matters worse, the PC parts we find here are usually double their regular price; good quality ones are also very rare. For reference, my new GPU (a Geforce GTX 970) is sold in only one place and it costs $600 - yes, six hundred). I want need this stuff to last.

This whole mess began with my motherboard dying a week before the Heavensward early access began, the first symptom of which was the CPU fan kicking the bucket. Monitoring my temperatures has become a regular thing now, and use MSI Afterburner's on-screen-display option to check on my temperatures while gaming.

Now, under gaming (specifically Final Fantasy XIV, maximum settings) my CPU* is around 55 Celsius, while my GPU oscillates between 65 and 70 Celsius. When there's lot of stuff happening on screen (during Hunts for instance), my CPU can jump between 60-65 Celsius and my GPU can jump between 70-75 Celsius with a custom fan curve of around 70% when it passes the 70 Celsius.

*Fun fact: in my Windows power plan my CPU is set to work at a maximum of 90% load, which contributes to this temperatures... I guess.

One of my first steps in this was to search online for reference temperatures, and this was where doubt set in. I read cases of people saying that a CPU having 65 Celsius was deadly; others said the same GPU never reached 65 Celsius under load. Now, before you interject, remember I knew nothing of this a couple of weeks ago, so this was all new information to me. I asked on Twitter and nice people were telling me that my temperatures were actually really fine. But exactly what constitutes "fine"?

I began reading some more, finding out my current CPU (a not-so-new Intel i5 3450) has a "tcase" temperature of 67,5 Celsius. "Ok, so what's a tcase?", I asked myself. Initially I found that it was the "maximum temperature a CPU can reach before presenting problems". I almost had a heart attack: I was just two degrees from critical failure!

Turns out, this is not the case. The tcase is sort of like the temperature that a CPU should/could be under load, and it's in no way dangerous to reach these temps (unless it becomes a constant - all day long - ocurrence). I also learned that exceeding 100 Celsius most CPUs have a "kill switch" command that shuts them down to prevent damage. Pretty smart!

In the GPU camp, further research returned that temperatures of up to 80 Celsius are not that bad. My highest ever GPU temperature was 77 Celsius, and that was when the MSI fan curve was accidentally turned off. It seems everything is in normal levels!

And thus conclude my misadventures in PC building/upgrading/gaming. I have gained new confidence after researching - "there is no knowledge that is not power". I'm looking forward to many nights gaming on my PC, sure that my temperatures are acceptable and thus enjoying my games more.

Of course, with one eye ever watchful of temperatures... you never know when something might fail... *paranoid music*

Game on!

- Sagacyte

Burn, baby... burn.


  1. Kalmado -
    Kalmado's Avatar
    I personally would not feel comfortable if my cpu ever hit over 55c and that's with a pretty heavy overclock on it. It looks like you're using an Intel chip and were using the stock cooler? One thing with all computers I build that will be doing any sort of heavy load (such as gaming) is I use a quality after market cpu cooler. My go to cooler is the Cooler Master Hyper Evo 212, or the 212 Plus model, depending on which is cheaper. It's a great cooler that will keep your cpu running nice and cool. Another important tool to use for ensuring your cpu will stay cool is using a quality thermal paste when installing the cooler. I use Arctic Silver 5. If you have any questions feel free to message me if you would like. I hope this helps!
  2. theshun -
    theshun's Avatar
    Did you find a program that you prefer to use to monitor temp? I've always used Core Temp, but curious if there are better out there or if it's strictly a preference thing (sometimes, there's sort of a universal go-to). I know some people like SpeedFan and other people just use whatever comes with the motherboard. Also, I'm using it for a laptop versus others using for a desktop.
  3. Charismatic -
    Charismatic's Avatar
    The limit for the Intels Core i3/i5/i7 lineup is 72c, I wouldn't be too concerned about 55c buuuuut higher temps will cause your CPU to wear out faster so following Kalmado's advice is recommended.
  4. Sagacyte -
    Sagacyte's Avatar
    @Kalmado Like other parts, it's not normal to find cooling or even good thermal pastes around here. There is a spot, yes, but prices are high - I'd have to look for it. The 55C comment worries me (of course) but I guess I can't pretty much control that. Sure I can try with one or two extra fans... but I don't think my general environment will allow that cool temps. I do live in the Equator

    @theshun I used SpeedFan at first, but I tried MSI Afterburner and... sort of stuck with it. No particular reason.

    @Charismatic I understand, and I'm concerned too! I'm particularly worried since last night I was playing Dragon Age Inquisition and the CPU oscillates around 65C... with peaks of a bit more. That game makes everything run very hot!
  5. FNH -
    FNH's Avatar
    Take the side cover off and see if that helps temps, you might not be getting sufficient ventilation. I've put a box fan next to mine before to lower temps. And As an experiment and not a long term thing, I've used duct work to pipe AC to the fan, nothing to cause condensing just cool the ambient air.
  6. Sagacyte -
    Sagacyte's Avatar
    @FNH I considered this a while ago. It looks crazy, but...
  7. Kalmado -
    Kalmado's Avatar
    I definitely understand regarding issues getting items to your home at a decent price because of living outside of the US. Chari is correct regarding max temp. To be more specific about my comment about not being comfortable with a temp above 55c, this is because I would like my hardware to last as long as possible. This is why having a proper cooler and using quality thermal paste is important. For myself, I envisioned my Intel I5-4690k lasting at least 3 years so I would like to keep it as cool as possible while at the same time maximizing performance, hence the overclock. If your current cpu/mb isn't of major value, just watch your temps. But if you spent some good money on it I would recommend buying the aftermarket cooler and thermal paste. Protect your investment! I hope this helps!
  8. Sagacyte -
    Sagacyte's Avatar
    @Kalmado Indeed, living outside the US makes buying good PC parts difficult. This weekend I tried running with the side cover off, and my CPU managed to stay below 55C! However it still went past this (into 57-58C) during Hunts in highly populated areas, but this doesn't last long so I don't think is so severe - I'm still way below the "tcase" of 67.5C for my CPU.

    I have NOT tried Dragon Age: Inquisition again, though; that game made everything run way hotter than FFXIV does.