Optimal CPU/GPU Temperature for Gaming
When your computer fans scream for relief, it is a sign that your components are heating up and starting to stress!
After playing mammoth gaming sessions or simultaneous streaming, You can end up with some hot components! Increased amounts of heat can either get you the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD) or permanently damage your components altogether. Whichever way it is, you’re putting your computer at risk.
So, what’s the best solution? How do you address the problem?
There are 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.
What Temperature Should My PC Parts Be While Gaming?
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.
Ideal CPU Temperature While Gaming
Whether you have an AMD or Intel processor, temperature thresholds vary greatly. These days the optimal CPU temperature for gaming should not exceed 176°F (80°C) and should run anywhere between 167°-176°F (75°-80°C) on average.
Below we have a table showing the available data of 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
AMD and Nvidia are the two 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 are usually capped at around 203°F (95°C). 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 some can exceed this without fatally damaging the component.
There are many factors which can contribute to the heating of the GPU:
- How GPU-dependent the game is
- Air-cooling solutions
- Ambient temperature
- Type of case
- Number of fans
There are few more factors but these are the main ones that directly affect the difference in temperature reading. Below there are two tables showing both NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards 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 ideally you always want your 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, ROG Strix and more.
|NVIDIA||Maximum Temperature in Fahrenheit||Maximum Temperature in Celsius|
|RTX 2080 Ti||192.2°F||89°C|
|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 readings 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 - The blower fan is often seen on a “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 (aftermarket cards).
- Open-Air - takes air from above the fans and blows it out to the sides (see below).
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.
If you currently own or are going to buy an aftermarket 'open-air' graphics card then airflow in your system is highly important. This is because modern cards output some seriously high heat inside the case and you will need a few fans set up to make sure that extra hot air is pushed out of the case.
So, which type of air-cooling solution you should get?
You should almost always buy an aftermarket 'open-air' graphics card and if you have poor airflow then upgrade your case or invest in some extra fans. If you can't or don't want to upgrade your case/ fan set up then you should get a blower fan GPU. There won’t be any hot air blown inside the case and it also helps exhaust the hot air from your system.
It is worth noting that because most blower fans only have one fan, it must work harder to cool the GPU effectively, which means your system is susceptible to higher noise and temperature output.
When it comes to open-air GPUs the hot air is expelled from the graphics card in all directions, which results in an accumulation of heat. This extra heat in your system can put your other components at risk of overheating.
All modern GPUs come with smart fans. These 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 address the temperature issues with your components you will need to track them with some useful utilities.
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 years of experience.
Large companies such as AMD, Nvidia, Intel, MSI, and more, have their own brand of utilities, which is basic software. These utilities allow you to check your CPU and GPU temperatures amongst other things.
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 they can even be used for overclocking.
Ryzen Master Utility only works with motherboards based on the X370, B350, X300 or X399 chipset while the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility works with Intel CPUs only.
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, get some compressed air and a vacuum and get that dust out of there. It is worth regularly cleaning your system as they are dust magnet after all. If you haven't cleaned inside your case for a long time it is worth removing all of your components so you can get in every nook and cranny.
Poor Cable Management
Temperatures can easily skyrocket if you have an open-air GPU. Now pair that with poor cable management, no exhaust fans, and you’ve created kindling for a house fire.
Having poor cable management can sometimes be down to having an old case with limited to no cable management options. If your back panel allows for your power cables to be pulled through, do it and get rid of that nest of cables sat in the middle of your system.
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 dust riddled, then you might need to replace them or get that vacuum out again.
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 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 solution may be a great way to go if you can't control your environments ambient temperature.
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 better to keep them low and there’s always a couple of ways to achieve this.
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.