Cool to be hot

As a relatively paranoid person who recently found out you can (and sort of should) monitor the temperatures inside your PC, the ordeal became a task of patience and research. The internet, as usual, is a vast resource of information – however in this case it is also important to note that temperatures vary wildly in the environment, too. I write this post both as a personal exercise, and so that maybe someday a new PC gamer looking for information that may be useful to them finds this and get some reassurance.

Disclosure: my paranoia is born of situation. Like many of you, I don’t bleed money; getting new PC parts isn’t a matter of just going out and buying a piece – family budgets come into place. To make matters worse, the PC parts we find here are usually double their regular price; good quality ones are also very rare. For reference, my new GPU (a Geforce GTX 970) is sold in only one place and it costs $600 – yes, six hundred). I want need this stuff to last.

This whole mess began with my motherboard dying a week before the Heavensward early access began, the first symptom of which was the CPU fan kicking the bucket. Monitoring my temperatures has become a regular thing now, and use MSI Afterburner’s on-screen-display option to check on my temperatures while gaming.

Now, under gaming (specifically Final Fantasy XIV, maximum settings) my CPU* is around 55 Celsius, while my GPU oscillates between 65 and 70 Celsius. When there’s lot of stuff happening on screen (during Hunts for instance), my CPU can jump between 60-65 Celsius and my GPU can jump between 70-75 Celsius with a custom fan curve of around 70% when it passes the 70 Celsius.

*Fun fact: in my Windows power plan my CPU is set to work at a maximum of 90% load, which contributes to this temperatures… I guess.

One of my first steps in this was to search online for reference temperatures, and this was where doubt set in. I read cases of people saying that a CPU having 65 Celsius was deadly; others said the same GPU never reached 65 Celsius under load. Now, before you interject, remember I knew nothing of this a couple of weeks ago, so this was all new information to me. I asked on Twitter and nice people were telling me that my temperatures were actually really fine. But exactly what constitutes “fine“?

I began reading some more, finding out my current CPU (a not-so-new Intel i5 3450) has a “tcase” temperature of 67,5 Celsius. “Ok, so what’s a tcase?“, I asked myself. Initially I found that it was the “maximum temperature a CPU can reach before presenting problems“. I almost had a heart attack: I was just two degrees from critical failure!

Turns out, this is not the case. The tcase is sort of like the temperature that a CPU should/could be under load, and it’s in no way dangerous to reach these temps (unless it becomes a constant – all day long – ocurrence). I also learned that exceeding 100 Celsius most CPUs have a “kill switch” command that shuts them down to prevent damage. Pretty smart!

In the GPU camp, further research returned that temperatures of up to 80 Celsius are not that bad. My highest ever GPU temperature was 77 Celsius, and that was when the MSI fan curve was accidentally turned off. It seems everything is in normal levels!


And thus conclude my misadventures in PC building/upgrading/gaming. I have gained new confidence after researching – “there is no knowledge that is not power“. I’m looking forward to many nights gaming on my PC, sure that my temperatures are acceptable and thus enjoying my games more.

Of course, with one eye ever watchful of temperatures… you never know when something might fail… *paranoid music*


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