When & Why?

Most people will take it for granted that their new PC Build is running all okay, but it can be a good idea to check your temps on any new built to ensure longevity.  This will be even more important as you install larger graphics cards etc, and will help ensure your PC stays healthy and stable in those gaming sessions etc. 

When your PC is doing hard work, it will naturally get hotter.  Running benchmarking or stress testing software will let us make sure it's up to the task.  

What you need


Test 1 - Idle Temps Steps

  1. If you have a Thermometer, note down your ambient room temperature.  We can use this to compare PC temps to Room temps.  

  2. Open HwMonitor.  You will see a list showing the categories with info for all your hardware. With the PC on idle, we get a baseline.

    Note down the following:
    • CPU > Temperature > Package
    • HDD > Temperatures
    • Graphics Card > Temperature

I use the VALUE column to note down, this is the live view.  If you leave it running you will see the Max / Min columns change to their relevant values showing the highest and lowest temps.  If you close down and re open HwMonitor the Max/Min values will be reset.

Idle temps will vary on your setup, a standard fan setup with a modern CPU should be around 25-30°C, although again some may see 40°Cs such as those with a 30°C room.

Test 2 - Load temps

Some say that load temps are the most important numbers to check.  It's a very important step as this will highlight any issues, you don't want your PC shutting of fin the midst of a battle.

With each of these tests you should note your temps and check against your hardware specs.  Also, on each of these tests keep an eye on your PC for any stability issues which could identify cooling issues.

When running multiple tests to check different configurations, it's a good idea to give the PC 10-15 min cool down period to avoid skewing results.

  1. Test the CPU
    • Open HwMonitor
    • Download and run Prime 95
    • Hit OK on the pop up, test selection screen
    • Keep an eye on your CPU temps within HwMonitor
    • After Prime95 runs for 5 minutes note down your CPU temps
    • When you're done with Prime95 Use the Test > Exit menu.  
      - Just hitting X will keep the tests running and hide the application in your notification area near the clock  

      The lower the better. It's best to be aiming for a max up to 80/90°C for an intel i5,  90-100°C is considered the max on intel i5's.  Also worth noting, this absolutely maxes out the CPU which wouldn't be the case in day to day or even gaming use.

  2. Test the GPU
    • Download, install & run Furmark
    • Hit GPU sress test
    • Whilst this is running, keep an eye in HwMonitor
    • After Furmark runs for 5 minutes note down your Graphics Card temps
    • When you're done with Furmark you can just hit the X to close.

  3. Test the PC as a whole
    • I use demo versions of 3dmark and PcMark
    • Download 3dmark or PcMark
    • Run the benchmark at default setitngs
    • Note down temps when they've ran


Round Up

Using the temperatures noted, you can see what the difference between room temperature and idle is - and difference between idle and load.

If you have stability issues or a particularly hot CPU, you may need to apply new thermal paste on your CPU or look at airflow as below.

Further Cooling

If you want to lower your temps, you can try different fan configurations.   I recommend
 - 1 fan blowing in on the front of the case
 - 1 fan blowing out on the rear of the case
 - Optionally 1 extra on the top blowing out
 - Optionally 1 extra on bottom of side panel blowing in

If you have a 120mm size fan slot make use of this as will maximize efficiency whilst minimizing noise.  Contrary to some beliefs, more fans does not necessarily mean lower temps. Airflow is key and is how the air travels through the system.  Sometimes more fans can disrupt this.

Going forward

Finally, remember, as your PC ages dust can build up and it's a good idea to review this.  I use a model air compressor to blow the dust out of mine when it builds up.  You can also use a compressed air can from the local DIY shop.  These will blow the dust out, but make sure to hold them the correct way round as not to blow liquid into the PC, and ideally do this outdoors where dust can blow away with the wind.