Optimal CPU/GPU Temperature for Gaming
When your computer fans scream for relief, it is a sign that your components are heating up -- and it’s not a good sign!
Either you get the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) or you damage your hardware components for good. Either way, you’re putting your computer at risk.
So, what’s the best solution? How do you address the problem?
There’s several things you’ll need to know: the optimal CPU/GPU temperature for gaming, how to track the temps, and what actions you can take to prevent overheating before things go south. Let’s start with the first of these items.
What Temperature Should My PC Parts be While Gaming?
There is no singular answer.
Each CPU and GPU is manufactured and designed to run within a specific temperature range. Today’s acceptable CPU and GPU temperature thresholds are significantly lower than they were in the past. In other words, cooling is a bigger priority than it used to be.
That being said, we do know the approximate recommended temperature range for many of the most popular processors and graphics cards.
Ideal CPU Temperature While Gaming
Whether you have an AMD processor or an Intel processor, temperature thresholds vary greatly. Nonetheless, today’s optimal CPU temperature when gaming should not exceed 176°F (80°C) and should run anywhere between 167°-176°F (75°-80°C) on average.
Refer to the table below showing both Intel and AMD processors along with their average temperatures.
|Intel Processor||Average Temperature in Fahrenheit||Average Temperature in Celsius|
|Intel Pentium Pro||165.2°F - 186.8°F||74°C - 86°C|
|Intel Pentium II||147.2°F - 167°F||64°C - 75°C|
|Intel Pentium III||140°F - 185°F||60°C - 85°C|
|Intel Pentium 4||111°F - 149°F||44°C - 65°C|
|Intel Pentium Mobile||158°F - 185°F||70°C - 85°C|
|Intel Core 2 Duo||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|Intel Celeron||149°F - 185°F||65°C - 85°C|
|Intel Core i3||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|Intel Core i5||122°F - 145.4°F||50°C - 63°C|
|Intel Core i7||122°F - 150.8°F||50°C - 66°C|
|AMD Processor||Average Temperature in Fahrenheit||Average Temperature in Celsius|
|AMD A6||113°F - 134.6°F||45°C - 57°C|
|AMD A10||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD Athlon 64||113°F - 140°F||45°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|AMD Athlon 64 Mobile||176°F - 194°F||80°C - 90°C|
|AMD Athlon FX||113°F - 140°F||45°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon II X4||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Athlon MP||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD Athlon XP||176°F - 194°F||80°C - 90°C|
|AMD Duron||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
|AMD K5||140°F - 158°F||60°C - 70°C|
|AMD K6||140°F - 158°F||60°C - 70°C|
|AMD K6 Mobile||167°F - 185°F||75°C - 85°C|
|AMD K7 Thunderbird||158°F - 203°F||70°C - 95°C|
|AMD Opteron||149°F - 159.8°F||65°C - 71°C|
|AMD Phenom II X6||113°F - 131°F||45°C - 55°C|
|AMD Phenom X3||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Phenom X4||122°F - 140°F||50°C - 60°C|
|AMD Sempron||185°F - 203°F||85°C - 95°C|
Ideal GPU Temperature While Gaming
Nvidia and AMD are the 2 big companies that manufacture today’s GPUs.
Average GPU temperatures range greatly since they are manufactured with different cooling solutions. This is one reason why it’s so hard to come up with an average GPU temperature.
Though temperatures vary greatly from one graphics card to the next, they usually are capped at around 203°F (95°C). But similar to CPUs, the optimal GPU temperature for gaming shouldn’t go over 185°F (85°C) even when they are under a heavy load, though others seem to go over safely.
There are so many factors that contribute to such difference and they include, but are not limited to, the following:
- How GPU-dependent the game is
- Air-cooling solutions
- Ambient temperature
- Type of case
- Number of fans
There are still a lot more but these are the main things that directly affect the difference in temperature reading. But no matter the case, below are 2 tables showing both NVIDIA and AMD graphics card along with their maximum temperatures when under load.
On paper, your graphics card should be fine if the temperature reading sits under the values indicated below but it’s still best for all of the graphics cards to sit between 167°F (75°C) - 185°F (85°C) when under heavy load.
NOTE: The NVIDIA cards below are Reference Card max temperatures (only has 1 fan). So, you should expect to see lower readings if you have the aftermarket or AIB (add-in board) cards from manufacturers like XFX, Sapphire, MSI, EVGA, Gigabyte, and more.
|NVIDIA||Maximum Temperature in Fahrenheit||Maximum Temperature in Celsius|
|Titan X (Pascal, 2016)||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 1080 Ti||195.8°F||91°C|
|GTX 1080, GTX 1070 Ti, and GTX 1070||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX Titan X (Maxwell, 2015)||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 980 Ti||195.8°F||91°C|
|GTX 1060 6GB and GTX 1060 3GB||201.2°F||94°C|
|GTX 780 Ti and GTX 780||203°F||95°C|
|GTX 1050 Ti and both GTX 1050 (3GB and 2GB)||206.6°F||97 °C|
|GTX 760, GTX 660, and GTX 660 Ti||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 480 and GTX 570||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 750 Ti||203°F||95°C|
|GTX 560 Ti||210.2°F||99°C|
|GTX 560 Ti (448 Cores||206.6°F||97°C|
|GTX 650 Ti||221°F||105°C|
|GT 740 and GT 740 (DDR5)||208.4°F||98°C|
|GTX 550 Ti||212°F||100°C|
|GT 640 (DDR5)||203°F||95°C|
|GT 730 (DDR3, 128-bit), GT 730 (DDR3, 64-bit), and GT 730 (DDR5)||208.4°F||98°C|
NOTE: The temperature reading of the following AMD graphics cards are the stabilized temperature readings from Furmark/OCCT tests. These were the hottest recorded GPU reading and not the average.
|AMD||Maximum Temperature in Fahrenheit||Maximum Temperature under load in Celsius|
|RX Vega 64||185°F||85°C|
|RX Vega 56||167°F||75°C|
|R9 Fury X||149°F||65°C|
|RX 480 (4GB and 8GB)||176°F||80°C|
|R9 Fury Nano||163.4°F||73°C|
|RX 560 4GB||143.6°F||62°C|
|R9 280X (XFX)||158°F||70°C|
|Vega 11 (R5 2400G integrated)||134.6°F||57°C|
|Vega 8 (R3 2200G integrated)||129.2°F||54°C|
2 Types of GPU Air-Cooling Solutions
- Blower Fan - also known as the “reference card”, the blower fan takes the air from inside the case and blows it out through the rear vents on the back of the GPU card.
This is great to prevent the buildup of heat inside your case but they are louder, slower, and run about 5°C hotter than an Open Air system.
- Open-Air - takes air from above the fans and blows it out to the sides.
Though it is quieter, faster, and runs 5°C cooler than the Blower Fan solution, you also run the risk of BSOD and damaging (melting) other hardware in the long run since you might not be able to exhaust all of the dispersed heat.
Get these only if you have enough cooling fans to expel hot air from inside the case.
So, which type of air-cooling solution you should get?
You should get a blower fan if you have a case with poor airflow. There won’t be any hot air blown inside the case and it also helps exhaust the hot air from inside the case.
However, because most blower fans only have 1 fan, it must spin faster to cool the graphics card properly, which also means that this also is susceptible to higher noise and temperatures.
An open-air graphics card is recommended only if you have a case with sufficient and proper air flow. Because of the fact that hot air is expelled from the graphics card in all directions, the case is likely to accumulate heat, which also puts other hardware at risk of overheating or melting.
You should also be aware of your Smart fans. Fans usually sit idle until temperatures reach 86°F to 104°F (30°C to 40°C). This greatly reduces noise and power consumption when the system is cool.
Ways to Track the CPU/GPU Temperature when Gaming
Before you can make changes to address the temperature problems, first you will need to track your hardware’s temperature first.
There are several ways to track the temp, but many of them are a pain. For instance, BIOS requires you to restart the system just to check its temperature.
As such, we’ll focus on the simplest and most reliable method based on our experience years of experience.
Large companies such as AMD, Nvidia, Intel, MSI, and more, have their own utilities, which is a basic software, that you can use to check your CPU and GPU temperatures and do more.
Ryzen Master Utility (AMD) and Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel) are some of the most commonly used and high-quality utilities. These provide you with just about everything you need to see CPU temperatures and even do easily overclocking -- just make sure that you know what you’re doing if you choose to do the latter.
Keep in mind though that the Ryzen Master Utility only works with motherboards based on the X370, B350, X300 or X399 chipset while the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility also works only with specific Intel CPUs. You can check the links above to learn more about it.
When you need to monitor your GPU temperature, the Nvidia Control Panel and the AMD Catalyst Control Center are Nvidia and AMD’s respective control panels. They usually are installed along with the graphics card drivers. Everything you need to monitor the GPU temperature can be accessed easily from there.
Just keep in mind that you can always download the drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website in case they’re missing.
You can also download utilities made by other hardware manufacturers such as MSI Afterburner, Gigabyte Aorus Graphics Engine, Asus GPU Tweak, and more. What’s great about these compared to Ryzen Master Utility and Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is that they are compatible with just about any GPU, regardless of the manufacturer.
This means you can use the MSI Afterburner even if you have an AMD graphics card.
They will automatically detect your hardware and returns data on your temperatures, fan speeds, voltage, load, and more.
How to Deal with High CPU/GPU Temperatures?
If you haven’t cleaned your system for months now, get a compressed air can and blow the dust off. Oh, and don’t forget to wear a mask! You don’t want to inhale those specks of dust, yikes!
Poor Cable Management
Temperatures can easily skyrocket if you have an open-air GPU. Now pair that with a system unit with poor cable management, no exhaust fans, and you’ve made a nice summer home for Diablo II’s Baal.
Poor Airflow/Lack of Fans
Investing in fans is one way to see improvements in your rig’s temperatures. Three or four fans should be enough (2 in / 2 out or 1 in / 2 out) to see improvements. And if they are old or dirty, then you might need to replace them.
High Ambient Temperature
This is one of the major problems people face during the summer or while living in the tropics.
Of course, keeping your environment as cool as possible is really the only solution. After that, all you can do is make sure your fans are running at optimal speeds.
You can check the fan's speed via the utilities mentioned above. Adjusting the fans via the third party software SpeedFan is recommended until the temperature sits at the optimal temperatures indicated at the beginning of the article.
If your fans are unable to keep up with the heat generated by your CPU or GPU, then get a better cooling system. A water cooling system is also advised.
Change Thermal Paste
If you haven’t bothered changing your CPU and GPU thermals within the past 6 months or so, then chances are it’s time you change them.
Before changing the thermals, learn how to correctly apply thermal paste to the CPU or GPU to avoid problems.
While it’s true that there’s no one definite answer to “what’s the optimal CPU/GPU temperature for gaming?”, it’s always better to keep them low and there’s always a way to do that.
Now that you know the average optimal CPU/GPU temperature for gaming, it’s time you track your CPU and GPUs temperatures with the tools we personally recommend and simply follow our guidelines to stay in the safe zone.