High-end computer games and other software applications can put a great amount of stress on the graphics processing unit (GPU) and can cause it to heat up.
If the computer does not have an adequate cooling system, the high GPU temperature can cause hardware failure over time.
Since this can damage our computer components, we need to resolve the heating issues before they get out of hand.
We must take every precaution to keep the GPU temperature at a safe level.
What is a Safe GPU Temperature Range?
The thing is, there is no universal constant safe temperature for a GPU. It all depends on the type of graphics card it has.
The safe temperature of each graphics card depends on its build and architecture.
Since these are different for different graphics cards, we are going to get differences in the GPU temperatures.
For instance, AMD and Nvidia cards display varying temperature values.
To figure out the safe temperature of the card we have, we must know its normal to maximum range.
We can check the manufacturer’s specification sheet that comes with the graphics card for these details.
If this information is missing, we can look it up online. It will be particularly helpful to visit tech forums where knowledgeable people discuss these issues.
Okay, so now that we know our graphics card’s average GPU temperature, what’s next? Well, the next step is monitoring it to prevent it from heating up.
How to monitor the GPU temperature?
There are two ways to do this. We can monitor via BIOS, or we can employ GPU temperature monitoring software.
There are pros and cons to both ways. Let’s examine each of these methods:
Monitoring GPU temperature with BIOS
The benefit of monitoring via BIOS is its relative ease of use. We do, however, need to restart the computer and follow the instructions on the splash screen to access the BIOS.
Pressing the Delete or the F1 keys will open the BIOS screen.
We can then look for Monitor, PC Health, or any other appropriate section in the BIOS menu and find the GPU temperature monitor.
While this can give us an idea of the heat level, we are not going to get exact temperature values.
We also won’t be able to detect what the temperature value is while we are in the middle of a game.
If, however, the system acts erratically or crashes without warning, we may be able to quickly check the temperature as the computer reboots. Excessive heat takes time to dissipate, so it is possible to check the temperature.
Installing GPU Monitoring Software
In some cases, we may also get this software for free with the graphics card we buy.
If not, there are many free and paid versions available.
We must check if they are compatible with the graphics card before installing them. Some of these software programs are quite comprehensive and can also monitor other computer hardware.
While we aren’t looking into that right now, it’s good to keep it in mind if further monitoring is ever required.
If BIOS monitoring isn’t helping and we decide to try the monitoring software, here are a few to check out:
NVIDIA Control Panel
With this software, we can monitor and optimize the working of almost all system components.
We can view the GPU temperature at any time if we choose to keep the control panel in an always visible state.
We can also keep track of temperature changes over time through its event logging system.
For further analysis, we can export the log files to a spreadsheet application. There is an option to dynamically control the cooling fan speeds based on the GPU temperature.
Open Hardware Monitor
This free and open source software monitors GPU temperature as well as fan speeds, voltages, clock speeds, and a lot more.
It displays the monitored values in a tree view which we can watch getting updated as we use the computer.
We can see this view in its main window, the system tray, or a customizable desktop gadget.
With this software, we can also see a graph of how the GPU temperature varies over time with the number of operations the GPU is performing.
In addition, there is an option to make its data available through Windows Management Instrumentation to enable other software to use it.
ASUS GPU Tweak
This package includes two utilities, FurMark and GPU-Z.
The OpenGL based FurMark is used to stress test the GPU by pushing it to its maximum speed and maximum temperature. If the GPU passes the test, we can safely overclock it.
We can also check how much power the GPU is consuming. GPU-Z displays information such as the GPU’s specification, temperature, core frequency, GPU load, and fan speeds.
With this free program, we can monitor the GPU’s temperature in real-time and adjust the speeds of the GPU fan. We can also monitor overclocking rates and memory usage.
AIDA64 has an excellent GPU thermal monitor. It also comes with many other diagnostic tools that we can use to monitor other system components.
While this program isn’t available for free, we can get the trial version with limited functionalities and see how well it works for us.
Core Temp measures the temperature of our processors. To prevent overheating, it shuts down the computer.
It also puts it into sleep mode when the temperature reaches a certain value. Additionally, it monitors other devices. If our keyboard has an LCD panel, Core Temp displays all the information on it.
This easy-to-use software displays the GPU temperature, fan speed, voltage, and also the data from other hardware components.
The reports show the maximum value, the minimum value, and the current value in a single window.
It makes it very useful when we want to check the temperature of our system quickly.
Determining GPU Temperature Values
The first step is to find out what our GPU temperature is while the computer is idle. So, when the operating system is running, and we have closed all the programs. To do this, we can check the GPU temperature shortly after booting the system.
We also want to know what the GPU temperature is when the computer conducts tasks requiring less GPU usage.
For this, we can open a program or a game and engage in activities that don’t task our GPU overmuch. We can then check the GPU temperature to find what it is on average.
The next step is finding the maximum GPU temperature. We can do this by engaging in an activity or by playing a game that requires maximum GPU usage.
Please note that some games have in-built GPU monitoring software that can save us from installing it separately.
After collecting the data, we can compare it to the manufacturer’s specified GPU temperature values for our graphics card.
If we have an AMD card, for instance, we may get temperature variations between 57 and 94 degrees Celsius.
For an Nvidia card, the temperature range is generally between 94 and 105 degrees Celsius.
If our maximum GPU temperature value for these cards falls within these ranges, we probably don’t have an issue.
On the other hand, if the maximum GPU temperature exceeds these ranges by 5 to 10 degrees, we do have a problem. We need to find a way to reduce the temperature, and soon — before it ends up damaging our hardware.
How do we lower a very high GPU temperature?
There are different ways to do it. We may either get lucky with one or have to keep trying until we find a method that works for us. Let’s look at some of the commonly-used ones:
Cleaning the Computer
Accumulation of dust often results in a heat build-up, so we need to check the amount of dust first thing.
While most of us would like to avoid getting any dust at all on our computers, it’s an unrealistic hope.
There’s no escaping it anywhere. What we can do is schedule computer clean-ups every six months or sooner.
It’s essential, though, to take extra care while using a vacuum cleaner or an air compressor for the cleaning. We don’t want to end up damaging any delicate components.
After removing most of the dust, we can wipe the cooling fans with a soft cloth and earbuds.
Let’s not forget to clean the fan blade undersides and check for dust piles. If we miss anything, it might compound the problem and hinder the proper spinning of the cooling fans.
Installing Additional Fans
If the computer case has room, we can fit two fans in it. The front fan will pull in cool air, and the one at the back will expel hot air. With a proper airflow through the computer case, we can keep the temperature down.
Getting Exterior Fans or an Air Conditioner
Along with the amount of usage, local weather conditions also affect the GPU temperature.
If we are in the middle of a heat wave, the GPU temperature values are going to be high.
An exterior fan or an air conditioner will make a big difference in lowering them. If you have a laptop you will find our article on the best laptop cooling pads useful.
Keeping Computer Cables in Order
Tangled and haphazardly spread cables are a dust magnet, and they can also prevent proper airflow around your computer.
Getting them in order may make a significant difference in the heat build-up.
Upgrading the GPU Cooler
If the standard GPU cooler isn’t getting the job done, we can try one that is manufactured by another company.
We can install a water cooler if we have been using an air cooler so far.
The consensus is that water coolers perform far better than air coolers.
Of course, we do need to check first if it will fit our budget and work well with our GPU. A quick online search on the matter ought to get us that information.
Underclocking the GPU Clock Speed
GPU clock speed is the number of operations the GPU performs per second. By slowing this speed, we can reduce the amount of power the graphics card consumes and its temperature.
Adjusting the GPU Overclocking Process
The GPU temperature can rise as a result of overclocking. If this is the case, we will need to disable and restart the overclocking process.
Changing the Thermal Paste
We can apply a fresh thermal paste to replace the old one between the GPU and the cooling fan. It prevents the formation of air bubbles between the two metal surfaces and facilitates heat transfer. The GPU temperature might go down a notch or two as a result.
Restoring the Earlier GPU Driver
The GPU temperature can sometimes hike up after a GPU driver update. It might help to restore the earlier version and see if that makes any difference.
Nothing’s working — now what?
If none of the above methods work in reducing the GPU temperature, we may need to get the professionals involved.
We should have a computer technician examine the computer and figure out what needs fixing.
It might be just a small, inexpensive tweak or it might end up being an expensive fix. Either way, we can at least resolve the problem and get on with things.
We can try both the DIY methods and professional assessment for tackling the GPU temperature issues. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. The main thing is to avoid overheating and damaging our hardware and taking enough care to extend our computer’s longevity.