Is My CPU Running Too Hot?


I have a custom-built gaming computer made by Magic Micro housed in a Thermaltake Soprano case. It has 4GB of RAM, a 3GHz Core 2 Duo (model unknown), a 500-watt Antec power supply, two 1TB Seagate hard drives, and a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870. Things are fun and fast here. The desktop sits right under the air-conditioning vent in my library. Using SpeedFan, I recorded the max temps to be 158 degrees in the Core 0-1 areas and 124 degrees at the CPU. Am I in trouble? Normally it runs around 98 degrees combined, but it was a hot night. I turned the AC on and it all cooled down quickly back to 98 F. Is my desktop OK or do I need to do something?

—Chris Buemi

Your desktop’s probably fine, Chris. 158 F (70 C) is within normal operating temperatures for your processor (likely a Core 2 Duo E8400, by the way), though definitely on the high end. The ambient air temperature in your house with the AC off no doubt contributed to the high temperatures.

High idle temps? Replace your stock cooler with a higher-performing one.

Though the temps you’re seeing aren’t too worrying, they’re higher than they should be. Make sure nothing is blocking your intake and exhaust fans—vacuum to remove dust, pet hair, small rodents, etc.—and make sure your CPU cooler is firmly mounted. If it is, and Magic Micro stuck with the stock cooler, you might want to consider an upgrade—as always, we recommend the $30 Cooler Master Hyper 212+ for an inexpensive, high-performance CPU cooler.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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