Video games intensely utilize the CPU (processor) of your computer. If you play graphics-intensive games for hours, your computer might overheat. So, what’s the normal temperature for a CPU during video gaming?
While gaming, typical CPU temperatures hover between 142°F and 163°F. The exact range can vary based on your specific processor model, but as a general guideline, it’s wise to keep your CPU below 176°F to avoid potential overheating.
Good airflow usually keeps your CPU cool. If not, there are other solutions to try.
Normal Processor Temperature Ranges During Gaming
The typical gaming temperature for a CPU varies based on the specific processor you have.
Some companies make processors that can handle heavy use and get hotter. On average, most processors should stay between 142°F and 163°F.
But, the safe temperature can change based on the type of processor. For example, an Intel Pentium 4 works safely up to 149°F, while an AMD Athlon can go up to 203°F. That’s a big difference!
CPU Normal Temperature Chart
|Normal Temperature Range
|Intel Core i5-9600K
|86°F – 167°F
|Intel Core i7-9700K
|86°F – 185°F
|Intel Core i9-9900K
|86°F – 185°F
|AMD Ryzen 5 3600
|104°F – 167°F
|AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
|104°F – 185°F
|AMD Ryzen 9 3900X
|104°F – 185°F
|Intel Core i3-8100
|86°F – 158°F
|Intel Core i5-8400
|86°F – 167°F
|AMD Ryzen 3 3200G
|104°F – 158°F
|AMD Ryzen 5 3400G
|104°F – 167°F
Gaming processors like the Intel Core I9 can withstand temperatures up to 200°F without overheating.
Moreover, models like AMD’s Ryzen (like mine) include an automatic shutdown mechanism to prevent high temperatures.
Ultimately, the best way to know your CPU’s normal temperature is to check your exact processor and consult the CPU temperature specifications.
How to Know if a CPU is Overheating
The simplest way to know if your CPU is overheating is to download a CPU temperature monitoring application.
An app called NZXT CAM provides accurate information on workload, temperature, fans, and clock speed. Plus, the software is free and visually appealing.
It provides some interesting information like:
- my processor’s reference (Model): Ryzen 9 3900X
- the load (Load): 3%
- temperature: 49°C being 120°F (the normal temperature being 40 to 85°C according to the manufacturer, see the table at the top of the page)
Another well-known app for monitoring CPU temperature is HWMonitor. It’s the most popular choice among gamers as it offers an accurate reading of the CPU’s lowest and highest temperature.
If you don’t want to download these apps, there are other ways to know if your CPU is overheating but without knowing the temperature.
Here are the signs of a heating computer:
- Computer fans get noisy. When your computer overheats, the fans speed up to lower the temperature. You’ll hear them spinning louder.
- Your computer restarts on its own
- Some computers come with an overheating alarm that goes off when the CPU temperature gets too high.
- The screen suddenly turns blue. This can happen in the middle of a video game or while using heavy graphic software.
Why Do Processors Heat Up?
When you play games on your computer, the CPU can heat up due to the electricity passing through it.
This electricity carries thermal energy, which raises the CPU’s temperature. Indeed, when your computer operates intensively, such as during gaming sessions, it generates more heat.
However, there are other factors that can lead to CPU overheating.
Poor Ventilation (and Dust)
CPUs can overheat if there isn’t adequate ventilation. This can happen when your room doesn’t allow sufficient airflow to dissipate the heat.
Not having enough windows or putting your PC right against a wall can block airflow, leading to poor ventilation.
Here’s how to increase ventilation and lower the temperature:
- Open the PC case to let hot air escape more easily.
- Turn on a fan directed at the computer tower.
- Install air conditioning in the room where you use your computer. This will reduce external heat, allowing your computer to cool from the outside in.
- Move your computer to a cooler room with better ventilation. The more air circulation, the better your computer’s temperature regulation will be.
- Ensure there’s no dust inside your PC. If there is, you need to remove it by blowing compressed air inside the computer. You should do this at least once a year as dust can reduce fan speeds over time and prevent them from cooling your PC properly.
- Don’t stick the PC against a wall or in a small space that would prevent it from ventilating well.
Note: Adding fans to your PC case can regulate the CPU temperature. You can do it yourself, but we recommend hiring a professional as any mistake could permanently damage your PC.
Installing Multiple Fans in a PC
To add more fans to your computer, follow these steps:
- Unplug all cables from your computer.
- Use a screwdriver to open your PC’s case. Most gaming PCs have two or more fans, so there’s not always enough space to add more. But if you only have two, there’s room to add more.
- The best place to add extra fans is at the base. Typically, PCs have plates at the bottom to prevent dust accumulation. You’ll need to remove these plates with a screwdriver.
- Add the fans in the same place the plates were.
- Ensure the fans are blowing air into the computer, not outside.
- Screw the fans.
- Connect them to the power source. You can add the fans to your fan controller or plug them into your PC’s motherboard.
- Test the computer before putting everything back in place.
Too Much Load on the Processor
When you play resource-intensive games that demand a lot of RAM and a strong graphics card, and your PC isn’t up to the task, it strains the system. This makes your CPU get hotter, prompting the fans to spin faster to cool it down.
There’s no need to worry unless you notice your CPU overheating and the computer shuts down, crashes, or restarts on its own. High and prolonged temperatures can eventually damage or burn the processor and other internal devices like the motherboard or graphics card.
In this case, you can change your CPU for a new one and upgrade your equipment. However, this can be almost as expensive as buying a new computer with a larger power supply and newer components.
Replace the Processor
If you’ve tried all the previous methods to keep your CPU at a normal temperature but it’s not working, you might need to buy a more powerful one.
You can either buy a new CPU with higher capacity or buy a new PC (recommended if your PC is over 4-5 years old).
A good gaming PC with a fast CPU capable of withstanding higher temperatures can cost between $2,000 to $3,500 or even more. On the other hand, a new CPU processor can cost between $150 and $1,200.
The normal temperature for a CPU during gaming is between 140°F and 167°F. It’s important not to exceed 175°F-185°F, or you risk overheating your CPU and damage it. However, you should consider the type of processor, as some can withstand higher temperatures.
If you notice your CPU overheating, it’s best to stop playing and address the issue to avoid any permanent damage to your computer.
First, ensure you have good ventilation or air conditioning in the room, regularly clean your computer’s fans, and use a PC app to monitor your CPU’s temperature. But overall, pay attention to the signs that the computer is overheating (like the fans being noisy).
If these measures don’t solve the overheating and computer reboots, you might need to buy a better CPU.