A GPU, which stands for graphics processing unit, assists in the generation of images and graphics. GPUs are especially necessary in gaming, video rendering, and graphic design, however they got their fame from gaming.
Ideally, you will want your GPU to run at temperatures between 65 to 85 degrees Celsius or 149 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Some contributing factors to the range have nothing to do with the stress of the game, but rather the manufacturer of the GPU.
For AMD GPUs in specific, they are only rated to go up to 70 degrees Celsius or 158 degrees Fahrenheit. The best NVIDIA GPUs can operate in the 95 to 100 degrees Celsius or 200-210 degrees Fahrenheit range.
Either way, the maximum temperature should not exceed 85 degrees Celsius or 185 degrees Fahrenheit. While some GPUs may be rated to handle higher temperatures, you risk burning out your GPU or other parts of your system. When in doubt, cooler is better.
Laptops may also see GPU temperatures in the 90 degree Celsius range, but you may also hear the fans running hard and you may want to provide extra airflow to the laptop in this situation.
How To Know if Your GPU is Overheating
While GPU temperatures can be checked in the BIOS, you cannot check the temperature in the BIOS while running your computer for anything else. Windows 10 users can check the temperature within Task Manager.
Certain graphics cards provide separate software and apps, like Radeon Overlay or GeForce Experience, that will tell you the temperature of the GPU as well as provide other stats. You can also use MSI Afterburner with either type of graphics card. These software and apps also will give you the option to overclock and tweak other features such as the speed of the GPU fans.
Without staring at the temperature, you may also notice that your computer is running hot if you can hear the fans running more than normal. At super hot temperatures, you may also notice that your resolution is not optimal and your FPS will drop.
If your screen suddenly goes black, your troubleshooting steps should include both restarting your computer, and plugging your display cable (HDMI, DisplayPort, or otherwise) directly into the motherboard. A GPU may come back under a lower load when the temperature lowers. However, this should be your warning that you are demanding too much from it.
Most GPUs these days have safeguards built in to prevent them from blowing out entirely due to heavy loads, but the risk of damaging one permanently due to excessive heat is still present.
Risks of an Overheating GPU
If your GPU gets too hot and causes other components to heat up as well, you risk damaging your internal components, especially your motherboard, processor, and RAM. Consistent overheating will damage memory and core clocks.
What Causes GPU Overheating
- Games that depend entirely on a GPU and do not pull from the motherboard’s graphical capabilities whatsoever
- How good the GPU’s cooling system is and whether or not it has experienced stress over time
- Temperature of the room
- Quality of the case
- Size of the case versus components installed in the case
- Location of the GPU in the case relative to airflow
- How well the computer fans are working
- Dust and other particles, to include residue from smoking cigarettes of all types, including e-cigarettes and vapes
- The age of the PC
Many of these issues are easily fixable, such as changing the location of the computer, optimizing fans for better airflow, and keeping the computer clean. However, sometimes the solution is to upgrade parts or rebuild if many of the parts have started to wear down.
In the case of overclocking in specific, while there may be short term benefits in performance, if the GPU cannot handle the heat, you will end up experiencing a decrease in performance instead.
Ways To Lower your GPU Temperature
The best way to lower the temperature of your GPU is to increase airflow within the computer. This may involve adding more fans or adjusting fan placement. Also ensure that your fans are facing the right direction and moving air around inside the computer case rather than causing backdrafts or vacuums.
When checking fans and other internal components, it is also best to ensure you have appropriate cable management. Cables that are hanging or tangled into a mess will restrict airflow to all components.
You can also change the location of your computer chassis altogether. Try not to put a desktop computer on the floor, and definitely do not place it on carpet. Putting it in an enclosure also saps airflow and will cause parts to burn out. For you laptop users, keeping a laptop in your lap is both a great way to overheat your computer and burn yourself.
In addition to not wanting to put your case on carpet, you also do not want to put it directly against a wall. Check to see where all of the vents in the chassis are and ensure none of those are covered.
Cleaning your computer regularly is a great way to keep dust and particles from forming on individual computer parts and increasing heat. If you have a desktop, take off the side or top and clean fans with a lint free cloth or a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol – preferably 90%.
Use compressed air on hard-to-reach areas and sensitive parts. When cleaning the fans, it is a good practice to hold the fan still so you do not damage them when spraying the compressed air.
The best thing to do is to check the manufacturer’s recommended temperatures for your GPU and act accordingly for what temperature range you want your GPU in. If you find yourself hitting the upper numbers in that range, or exceeding the recommended maximum, try some of the tips for lowering your GPUs temperature so you can continue gaming without worry.