We have all been there; after a long gaming session, your computer starts freezing, and the fan noise becomes unbearable. Your computer has been pushed to its limits and is having trouble cooling down.
But how do you know if it is a CPU or GPU temp issue? And how can you fix it?
The solution is to monitor your CPU and GPU temperatures while gaming, and there are a few ways to do this.
The easiest way is to use a monitoring program like MSI Afterburner, HWMonitor, or Core Temp.
These programs will show you the temperatures of your CPU and GPU in real-time.
How to monitor CPU And GPU temperature while gaming?
As I already mentioned, using a monitoring program is the best way to monitor your CPU temp while gaming. There are many monitoring programs out there, but I recommend MSI Afterburner.
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What Is MSI Afterburner?
MSI Afterburner is a software for managing your overclocking settings, but it can also be used to monitor your temps.
I know many of you are wondering if it is only for MSI GPUs or motherboards, but the answer is no. It works with all GPU and CPU brands and is very easy to use, it is completely free, and you can download it here.
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How To Monitor CPU Temp While Gaming?
Let’s start with monitoring the CPU temp while gaming.
To do this, you should use a program like MSI Afterburner or Core Temp.
Both programs are very easy to use and will show you the temps in real-time.
MSI Afterburner is my personal favorite because it is very user-friendly and has a lot of features, so this is what I will be using for this guide.
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1. Download And Install MSI Afterburner
MSI Afterburner is very easy to install; just download it from the link I provided and run the installer.
Launch the program once it is installed, and you will see this window.
As you can see, there are many options and settings here, but we are not interested in any of them. All these settings are for overclocking your GPU, which we will not be doing in this guide.
2. Click The Settings Button
To start monitoring your temps, click on the gear button at the bottom left corner of the window.
A new windows like window (no pun intended) will pop up.
3. Go To The Monitoring Tab
Now that you are in the settings window, go to the monitoring tab.
This is where you can see all the options for monitoring your CPU temp.
Under the “Active Monitoring Graphs” section, you will see all the CPU temps that can be monitored.
As you can see, all the CPU-related sensors that can be monitored are labeled with the word “CPU” in front of them.
The sensors with a number after them are your CPU thread temps. For example, CPU1 Temperature is the temp of thread 0, CPU2 Temperature is the temp of thread 1, and so on.
The sensor labeled CPU Temperature that doesn’t have a number after it is the average temp of all your CPU cores.
After you have checked all the boxes next to the sensors you want to monitor, make sure also to check the “Show In On-Screen Display” option for each one of the sensors you want to monitor.
This will display your temps in the top left corner of your screen while gaming.
4. Click “Apply” And Then “OK.”
Once you have selected all the sensors you want to monitor, click on the “Apply” button at the bottom right corner of the window.
Then click on the “OK” button, and you are done.
5. Make Sure You Have Setup Up Everything Correctly
Now that you have configured MSI Afterburner to check CPU temperature, it is a good idea to check if everything is working as it should.
To do this, click on the heartbeat monitor in the bottom left corner of the MSI Afterburner window and ensure your CPU temps are displayed correctly.
If everything works as it should, a new window with a graph of your CPU temps will pop up.
You can now close this window and start gaming.
6. Start Gaming And Monitor Your CPU Temp
Now that everything is set up and working, it is time to start gaming.
As you can see in the screenshot below, my CPU temps are displayed in my screen’s top left corner.
I am currently playing The Witcher 3, and as you can see, my CPU temps are around 40 degrees Celsius, which is perfectly normal.
If your temps start to get too high, you should try to find the cause of the problem and fix it.
If you do not see any temps in the top left corner of your screen, press “Alt +O,” and the temps should start being displayed.
To make the most out of your test, I recommend playing the same game for the same time you did when you first noticed the problem.
For example, if you first noticed the problem while playing Witcher 3 for an hour, then play Witcher 3 for an hour while monitoring your CPU temp.
If your computer starts to crash and your fans start spinning fast, checking the CPU temps is a good idea. If they are too high, your CPU is likely overheating; if not, the problem is most likely the GPU.
7. Monitor Your CPU Temps With Core Temp
MSI Afterburner is a fancy overclocking tool that you can use to monitor your CPU temps, but it is not the only one. If you want a more straightforward program, I recommend using Core Temp.
Core Temp is a very lightweight program that is very easy to use. The only downside of Core Temp is that it doesn’t have a real-time monitoring feature like MSI Afterburner.
To download Core Temp, go to this link and scroll down to the download section.
Once you have downloaded and installed Core Temp, open it up, and you should see something like this:
As shown in the screenshot above, you can see all your cores’ minimum, maximum, and real-time temps. You can also see your CPU load, but what I like the most about Core Temp is that it displays your TJMax temperature.
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What Is TJMax Temperature
The TJMax temperature is the maximum temperature your CPU can reach before it starts to throttle itself to prevent damage.
As you can see in the screenshot above, my i7 8700k has a TJMax temp of 100 degrees Celsius.
This means that my CPU will start to throttle itself when it reaches 100 degrees Celsius to prevent damage.
To get an idea of how hot your CPU is running, you can compare your Max CPU temps to your TJMax temp.
For example, if your CPU is running at 90 degrees Celsius and your TJMax temp is 100 degrees Celsius then your CPU runs at 90% of its maximum temperature.
Ideally, you want your CPU to run below 80% of its maximum temperature to prevent long-term damage.
Again to make the most out of your test, try to simulate the conditions in which you first noticed the problem.
For example, if you first noticed the problem while gaming for an hour, then game for an hour while monitoring your CPU temps with Core Temp.
Ideal CPU Temperatures
Now that you know how to monitor your CPU temps, you are probably wondering what the ideal CPU temperatures are. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question as every CPU is different.
To get an idea of the optimal CPU temperature, you can Google “[Your CPU Model] Ideal Temperature.”
But to give you an idea of what the general ideal CPU temperatures are, here are some guidelines:
- When your CPU is idle (not being used), the ideal temperature is between 30-40 degrees Celsius.
- When your CPU is at about 50% load, the ideal temperature is between 40-50 degrees Celsius.
- When your CPU is at full load (100%), the ideal temperature is between 50-70 degrees Celsius.
Of course, you should take these numbers with a grain of salt, as every CPU is different.
Now that you know exactly how to monitor your CPU temps, it is time to talk about how to monitor your GPU temps while gaming.
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How To Monitor Your GPU temp While Gaming
If you have followed the instructions in the previous section, and your CPU temps are not the problem, then it is most likely your GPU that is causing the problem.
Again, the best way to determine if your GPU is causing the problem is to monitor its temperature while gaming.
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1. Go To The Monitoring Tab
Follow the exact steps in the previous section to open up the monitoring tab in MSI Afterburner.
The only difference is that you should tick your GPU instead of your CPU and CPU threads. But there is a slight problem with using MSI Afterburner to monitor your GPU temps.
2. Choose The Correct GPU
If you have both a dedicated GPU and an integrated GPU, then MSI Afterburner will display your GPUs as GPU1 and GPU2 without telling you which is your dedicated and which is your integrated GPU.
This can be very confusing, especially if you are new to computers.
You should go to the “General” tab to find out which GPU is your dedicated GPU and which is your integrated GPU. Under the “Master graphics processor selection” dropdown menu, you will see the name of both your dedicated and your integrated GPU next to their labels.
This way, you can be sure that you are monitoring the correct GPU.
After making sure that you are monitoring the correct GPU, go to the Monitoring tab, select it from the dropdown menu and select the “Show On In-Screen Display” checkbox.
Click “Apply” and then “OK”.
4. Play A Game
While gaming, you will now see your GPU temps in the top left corner of your screen.
When your PC starts to crash or freeze, quickly check your GPU temps to see if it is the problem.
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5. Monitor Your GPU Temps With GPU-Z
While MSI Afterburner is an excellent tool for monitoring your GPU temps, it has a bug in monitoring iGPUs.
The bug is that MSI Afterburner will not monitor your iGPUs temps.
So, if you have an iGPU and want to monitor its temps, you can use a different program called GPU-z.
Like Core Temps, GPU-Z is a free, lightweight program you can download here.
After you have downloaded and installed GPU-Z, open it up and at the main “Graphics Card” tab, choose your iGPU from the dropdown menu and then go to the “Sensors” tab.
If you click on the GPU temperature dropdown, you can select between the Lowest, Highest, and current GPU temps.
The only drawback of this program is that you can’t see the GPU temps while gaming, so you will have to check the maximum temperature after you are done gaming.
Of course, you can also use this program to monitor your dedicated GPU temps, but MSI Afterburner is a better option for that.
Related Article: What Is A Good Idle GPU Temp? [Solved]
Ideal GPU Temperatures
Now that you know how to monitor your GPU temps, you are probably wondering what the ideal temperature for a GPU is.
Just like CPUs, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Different GPUs have different ideal temperatures.
The best way to find out the ideal temperature for your GPU is to Google it or look it up on the manufacturer’s website.
For example, if you have an Nvidia GTX 1060, you can go to Nvidia’s website and find out that the ideal temperature for this GPU is 80°C.
But to give you an idea of what the general ideal GPU temperatures are, here are some guidelines:
- When your GPU is idle (not being used), the temperature should be between 30°C to 50°C.
- When your GPU is at about 50% load, the temperature should be between 60°C to 85°C.
- When your GPU is at full load (100%), the temperature should be between 80°C to 95°C.
Of course, these are just general guidelines, and your specific GPU might have a different ideal temperature range.
So, the best way to find out is to Google it or look it up on the manufacturer’s website.
Related Article: What Is A Normal GPU Temp While Gaming? [Solved]
As you saw, monitoring your CPU and GPU temps while gaming is not that hard, and it can help you avoid many headaches.
You just need the right software and the correct settings. If you follow the steps in this guide, you will be able to do it in no time.
Just remember to keep an eye on your temps while gaming and if they start to get too high, try to find out the cause and fix it.
I hope you found this guide helpful.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Nick Ryley, is a computer architect and the owner of The Pc Geekz.
His love to play games got him interested in computers in the first place. He wanted to be able to build a gaming PC that could run all the latest games at max settings and this has him pursuing a major in computer architecture!
He started this blog to help people out and answer some of the most common questions about computer building