CPU computes several complex algorithms at the speed of billions of cycles per second. It is acceptable to generate some amount of heat while working at such great speed.
A CPU temperature of 50-60 degrees Celsius at normal usage and 80-90 degrees during intensive work is quite common. But if the processor exceeds this temperature, then it is overheating. Unless your CPU is older or overclocked, overheating processor is usually the result of below-par heat dissipation.
Whatever the cause, we are going to show how you can care for your CPU and prevent it from reaching higher temperatures.
Causes of an Overheating CPU
When a CPU overheats, it starts thermal throttling, and the performance decreases. But what actually rises the CPU temperature beyond its threshold? Let’s look at a few of the causes.
- Faulty CPU fan
- Accumulation of dust
- Inefficient air circulation
- Depleted thermal paste
- Low fan speed
- Overclocking the CPU
- Heavy programs running in the background
- Malware infection
Fixes for Solving CPU Overheating Issue
At first, you need to be sure that your BIOS or the temperature monitoring application is showing the correct reading. You can use different software such as HWMonitor, Open Hardware Monitor, etc., to observe the temperature. See if all of them denote your CPU to be overheated.
If so, let’s move on to the fixes right away.
Find Processor-Hogging Programs
The CPU is designed to handle high loads most of the time. But some applications use a significantly high amount of processing power. When such programs run continuously in the background or foreground, it will cause the CPU to heat a lot.
You can find such programs using Task manager and end them.
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
- Under the Processes menu, look for the programs and background processes with high CPU consumption.
- Select the program and click End task.
- Do this for all such applications and processes. Make sure you do not end any system processes, though.
Sometimes, the programs run in the background using the CPU silently. In such a case, you can disable background applications.
- Press Windows + ‘I’ to open Settings.
- Find Apps and Apps & Features inside it.
- Click on the three dots at the right end of an application and choose Advanced options. All applications may not have this feature.
- Find the Background apps permissions option.
- Set the Let this program run in background feature to Never.
Restart your system and see if it solved the issue. If the programs use high CPU again after the restart, then we recommend you uninstall them. You can also clean-boot your system to diagnose the exact process/application that’s causing the high CPU usage.
Look for malware
Not all CPU-hogging programs are intentional. If your system is infected with malware, they can use up the processor without any mercy. As a result, the CPU load increases, and it heats up more than its limit.
You should run a complete virus scan on your system using the Windows defender tool. You could use a third-party antivirus, but it can consume additional processing power. Let’s run a virus scan using Defender.
- Press Windows + ‘R’ and enter
ms-settings:windowsdefenderto open Windows Security.
- Click on Virus and Threat Protection and go to Scan options.
- Select Full scan and click Scan now.
It can take a bit of time to complete the scan and remove the malware. See if the CPU temperature reduces after the virus scan.
Use a Dedicated Graphics Unit
When you run a graphics-intensive program or simply a demanding application, it uses a lot of processing power. This can load the CPU even more if you run those applications using integrated graphics. The integrated graphics unit uses the CPU’s capacity to render the images.
So, if you continuously use heavy programs and play high-end games, you should add a dedicated GPU to your system. The dedicated GPU has its own processor, memory, and cooling system.
Using a GPU reduces the pressure on the CPU even more if you enable the Hardware Acceleration feature. This feature removes some load from the processor and uses other system resources such as GPU to run them.
Let’s see how you can enable Hardware acceleration on your system.
- Press Windows + ‘I’ to open Settings.
- Click on Display and scroll to find Graphics settings.
- Click on Default graphics settings at the top.
- Enable Hardware-accelerated GPU Scheduling by changing the toggle bar to On.
You should find your CPU temperature to decrease significantly.
Reduce Maximum Processor State
Windows provide an option to manage the power plan and tweak the power usage settings of your system. If you are facing the CPU overheating problem in a laptop, you can use a balanced power plan or power-saving options. This provides a balanced performance and power usage compared to the High-performance setting.
Similarly, you can also lower your Maximum processor state. If your processor is getting older and cannot handle higher loads, reducing the CPU usage percentage can help lower its temperature.
Let’s see how you can set these settings on your PC.
- Press Windows + ‘R’ and type
powercfg.cplto open Power Options.
- Set the Balanced or Power saver plan.
- Click on change plan settings on the selected plan.
- Go to change advanced power settings.
- Find Processor power management.
- Set the Maximum processor state to 60-70 %. It depends on how much performance reduction you want to trade for lower CPU temperature.
See if the CPU’s temperature comes to the normal range.
Most of us overclock our CPU to get the best performance out of it. It does the job excellently as well. But overclocking can increase the CPU temperature so much that it throttles to preserve its integrity.
If you have overclocked your CPU, it may be a major reason for its high temperature. So, you should revert the overclocked settings to normal performance. Let’s see how you can do it.
- Boot your system into the BIOS page by pressing the respective key repeatedly after the system starts.
- Load the default settings by pressing F9 or the associated button.
- Save the settings and restart your PC.
You can simply uninstall the program if you have used software to overclock your CPU.
- Press Windows + ‘R’ and type
appwiz.cplto open Add or Remove Programs.
- Select the program and click Uninstall.
You should find your CPU running at normal clock speed and its temperature back to normal. In addition to overclocking, if you are active in cryptocurrency mining and use other heavy programs, they consume a lot of processing power. So, you can uninstall those programs to see any changes in the CPU temperature.
Check CPU Fan or AIO Pump
CPU fan is the major component responsible for maintaining the CPU temperature. If the fan is not working properly or is damaged, the CPU won’t get adequate cooling.
So, you need to verify that the fan’s cable is not damaged or unplugged and its speed is sufficient for your system. Let’s disassemble your system to do it.
- Power your system off and remove all the power cables.
- Remove the side panel by unscrewing the nuts.
- Find the CPU fan and its header on the motherboard.
- Connect the power cables and run the system to see if the fan is spinning properly.
- Open some intensive programs and look whether the fan speed increases accordingly.
- If it does not work properly, remove the power cables again and disconnect the fan connector.
- Check the fan cable for any damage and insert it back properly. The correct CPU fan header is named CPU_FAN. CHA_FAN or SYS_FAN named header are for casing fans.
- If you have an AIO Pump, look if the radiator fan is fully functional.
Before re-assembling the system, let’s clean it first.
Clean the PC
Dust is the enemy which we can’t really avoid. Our system suffers from overheating issues when too much dust accumulates. It clogs the vents, slows down the fan, and insulates the heat sinks preventing them from dissipating heat.
So, if you have not cleaned your PC in a while, the dirt collected on the CPU fan may have resulted in overheating of the CPU. While you are checking the fan, you need to clean your heatsink and the PC and free it from any dust.
- Disconnect all the connectors and hardware from the motherboard.
- Remove the motherboard screws and take it out of the casing.
- Use a blower to provide compressed air through the motherboard. Do not leave any nooks and corners.
- Wipe the dust on the CPU fan, and other heat sinks with a clean microfiber cloth.
- Reconnect the motherboard and the connectors on it.
Operate your system and observe if the CPU temperature rises again.
Maintain Proper Airflow
The CPU fan draws the cold air inside and then pushes away the hot air to dissipate the heat generated in the CPU. But if the area is so congested that the fan cannot remove the air outside, the heat won’t get dissipated. As a result, the CPU overheats.
This effect is more pronounced in laptops when you use them over a soft surface. The soft surfaces such as the mattress, compress and block the vents.
Similarly, if the room air itself is hot or there is excessive sunlight falling on the system, then it will automatically heat up.
So, you should use your system in a room or place with enough space for air circulation. Even better if the room has cooler airflow. Use the laptop on hard surfaces such as books or tables. It is more beneficial to get a laptop cooling pad.
Re-apply Thermal Paste
Thermal paste removes air bubbles between the CPU fan’s bottom and the processor to reduce insulation at the microscopic level. Thus, the heat gets transferred from the CPU to the heat sink much more effectively.
But, over time, the thermal paste degrades, and the heat dissipation process may be ineffective, causing the CPU to overheat. Thus, you should remove the old thermal paste and re-apply the new one to the processor.
- Remove the power from the system and disassemble the casing to get to the CPU.
- Unscrew the CPU fan and remove the lock.
- Disconnect the fan header and take the fan out.
- Rub the remainder of the thermal paste using cotton or soft cloth and a little Isopropyl alcohol.
- Let the processor’s top dry for a while.
- Put an appropriate amount of thermal paste on the processor or the fan’s bottom.
- Place the fan on the top appropriately.
- Lock the fan mounts diagonally to maintain stability.
- Connect the fan header and assemble the system.
Run the computer to see any changes in the CPU temperature.
Undervolt your CPU
When the processor’s load increases, it draws more power from the power supply unit. The high power draw increases the temperature in return. Undervolting a CPU means reducing its maximum working voltage by keeping its operating speed constant. So, when the voltage decreases, the temperature also reduces accordingly.
Undervolting is one of the most used techniques to lower the CPU temperature. It is totally safe and, if done at an appropriate level, increases the performance even more. But there are several steps to follow while doing it. So, we have prepared a detailed guide on how to undervolt your CPU safely.
Increase CPU Fan speed
Sometimes the fan speed may not be sufficient to suffice the workload of the processor. This can result in inefficient cooling and eventually overheating of the CPU.
However, you can change your CPU fan’s speed if your manufacturer has it unlocked and works in PWM mode. The speed of a DC fan cannot be varied. Let’s see the way to increase fan speed using BIOS.
- Restart your system and boot into the BIOS page by pressing the respective button for your system. Mostly the key is F2, F12, or Delete, depending on the system.
- Find Q-Fan, Fan info, or Smart Fan option in BIOS. The name varies as per manufacturers.
- Raise the fan speed by tweaking the fan curve. You can also use the automatic mode such as Turbo, which increases its speed.
- Save the settings and boot into normal mode.
Run your system for a while and see if the CPU crosses its threshold temperature again. If your BIOS does not have the advanced option to modify fan speed, you can use reliable third-party applications such as MSI-Afterburner, SpeedFan, etc.
Delid Your CPU (Only for Professional Users)
If you want to keep your CPU temperature reduced further, then you can perform its delidding. It is the process of removing the top metal portion (lid) of the CPU.
The metal portion and the actual circuit consist of minute air pockets that raise the temperature. The metal lid is kept there only for protection. Removing it will bring the CPU in direct contact with the heat sink, improving the cooling efficiency much more. It can even reduce the temperature while keeping the CPU overclocked.
The basic process is that you need to remove the lid, scrub the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) and apply the new one. But the process is risky and requires a lot of steps. We have provided a detailed guide demonstrating the safe process of delidding the CPU.