What Is a Normal CPU Temp While Gaming?

Modern gaming pushes hardware to the max. This makes CPU temperatures have extreme heat while playing your favorite games. This is true even with some of the best machines on the market.

So, what exactly is a normal CPU temp while gaming? Today, I’m going to answer that so you can feel confident that you aren’t damaging your hardware.

Then, I’m going to give you reasons why your CPU is overheating followed by 10 ways to keep the temperature down.

What Is a Normal CPU Temp While Gaming?

Average temperatures vary across different manufacturers and computer setups. As a general rule, a normal CPU temperature while gaming should fall between 61–80 degrees Celsius (C) or 142–176 degrees Fahrenheit (F).

For almost any type of processor, this is a safe range.

The keyword is ideally.

That’s because real-life scenarios, it’s not uncommon for CPU temperatures to exceed 80C while gaming. So, don’t be too alarmed if that happens.

Just know that once it crosses that threshold, you should seriously start to think about ways to return to a safe temperature pronto.

Why? Maintaining an ideal temperature will help:

  1. Extend the life of your computer
  2. Sustain optimal performance
  3. Make your gaming experience more enjoyable

Therefore, managing your computer to obtain an optimal CPU temperature is a must.

With that in mind, let’s examine the reasons your gaming systems gets too hot to begin with. Then, let’s go over a few simple steps you can take to achieve a more normal CPU temp while gaming (and avoid the dreaded blue screen).

Blue screen from overheated CPU when gaming
Blue screen of death (BSOD) system error

Why Is My CPU Temperature So High?

As you know, a high CPU temp is not uncommon, even for tasks such as graphic design. However, there are different reasons why your computer is nearing its max temperature. Below are some of the most common culprits of overheating.

Dust Buildup

No matter what, dust particles will find their way into the cracks and crevices of your computer over an extended period. What’s more: It’s super easy to let a lot of time pass and forget about it, which only makes the problem worse. 

Needless to say, these dust clumps could be affecting your overall performance. This is why it’s one of the first things you should check if your CPU temp while gaming is in the 80–90C range or above.

Lack of Airflow

Another easy thing to check is whether or not your computer has proper ventilation. Maybe your computer is in a crowded space, and the vents are obstructed by objects around your desk. Or perhaps it’s on carpet that’s hindering its internal airflow.

Whatever the case, giving your CPU enough room so the exhaust fans can do their job is another easy way to ensure a normal CPU temperature while gaming.

Thermal Paste Issue

Depending on the cooling solution your system uses, there are some instances where you may need to apply thermal paste to facilitate a normal CPU temp while gaming.

In that case, you’ll want to learn how to apply thermal paste and how it works. There are many different methods to achieve cooler temps with so-called “heat grease,” so be sure to do your research beforehand to achieve the best results.

Fan Malfunction

If your fans aren’t spinning correctly, CPU overheating will occur. In this case, your computer will shut down automatically. This is a good thing: It prevents your components from being exposed to extreme temperatures and avoids permanent damage in the process.

Grease, dust, physical damage, incorrect settings, and external factors may all contribute to a fan error. Therefore, if you’re feeling excess heat, check your CPU fans asap.

Long Gaming Sessions

Modern games use up much of your computer’s power and resources, causing your hardware to work overtime to meet the demand. Over a consistent period, the heat generated from a heavy game load can increase, leading to decreased performance levels and CPU damage.

Does this mean you shouldn’t game for extended periods? Absolutely not! It just means you should monitor your computer to maintain a healthy temperature. You’ll know once it feels too hot, but you can also use CPU temperature monitoring software.

Intense Games

CPU performance varies across different games. One may require higher clock speeds, while another may need more cores. On the other hand, many modern games rely less on the CPU and more on the GPU. In this case, the graphics card plays a significant role in the internal temperature of your system.

In any case, the fact remains that intense gaming loads cause a greater flow of heat in comparison to regular computational tasks. It’s more or less a given for most of today’s video games. 

Extended Overclocking

Overclocking can increase your CPU performance by improving the rate at which it can deliver computational instructions. However, greater speed generally results in more significant amounts of heat, even on the most recent Intel and AMD processors.

Heat sink at high temp on gaming CPU
Heat sink

How Do I Lower My CPU Temperature While Gaming?

Now that we’ve gone over why you might surpass a normal temperature range while gaming, let’s look at some ways you can return to an average CPU temp.

  1. Operate on a hard, level surface for optimal airflow.
  2. Tidy up your cable management.
  3. Monitor the ambient temperature of your room
  4. Clear the cooling vents with compressed air.
  5. Adjust performance settings in the control center.
  6. Take off the panel and visually inspect the fans.
  7. Use a cooling pad for your laptop.
  8. Apply thermal paste the correct way.
  9. Keep your computer case on to keep dust out.
  10. Invest in a better cooling solution/case fan.

Spending more time and money is a drag, but there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore excess heat. Here are the downsides of your CPU becoming too hot:

  • Performance suffers
  • Reduced efficiency
  • Data corruption
  • Solder melting
  • Shortened CPU lifespan
  • Personal discomfort

How Do I Measure My CPU Temperature?

Monitoring your average CPU temperature is like checking the storm drain of your house. It’s not something you need to do daily, but if there’s a problem, you’ll definitely know it. That’s when you should use a hardware monitoring program to take a look.

The good news is that CPU and GPU temperature monitoring tools are standard among the most reputable companies. The two biggest ones that supply processors for gaming also provide their own utilities, which can be found here:

There are also several third-party temperature monitoring tools you can use for free. Here is a short list of ones you should check out:

  • Core Temp
  • NZXT CAM
  • AIDA64
  • HWiNFO
  • HWMonitor

FAQ 

Is 60C hot for a CPU while gaming?

No, 60C is not hot for a game session. In fact, 60C is well within safe operating temperatures for lighter tasks.

For context, your temp at idle should be around 45–60C. For general computer work, on the other hand, the average temperature range should fall between 60–65C.

Is 70C hot for a CPU while gaming?

No, 70C is not hot for gaming-related tasks. It is well within the safe CPU temp range for average game settings. In fact, your normal CPU temp while gaming should ideally fall somewhere between 70–80C when running heavy programs.

On the other hand, if your central processing unit is at 70C for non-difficult tasks, such as word processing or emailing, you might have a problem. 

Is 80C hot for a CPU while gaming?

An average temp range for gaming is typically between 70–80C. However, your ideal temp range will depend on your exact processor model. 

In most cases, a few degrees above 80C is nothing to be concerned about. However, if the CPU is in the 90–100C range, you are flirting with dangerous temperatures that could damage your hardware. 

How long does thermal paste last?

Thermal paste in a tube can last anywhere from 2–5 years, depending on the ingredients and storage. Keep it stowed away in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, with the lid screwed on securely for max shelf life.

Thermal paste is a sticky substance, so if it comes out of the tube feeling dry or liquidy, you should invest in a new batch. Some tubes have an expiration date, so look out for that, as well.

What should CPU temp be at idle? 

Your average CPU temperature when idling should be in the 45–60C range.

This is somewhat reliant on the ambient room temperature. Still, under normal conditions, this is a range that could be considered healthy.

Is a heatsink or fan better?

A heatsink and fan are two puzzle pieces that work together to sustain a normal CPU temp while gaming. As such, neither is necessarily better than the other.

The CPU heatsink is a cooling solution that draws heat away from the processor. Since it is static, there is no noise, and it is less prone to breaking.

A cooling fan moves hot air away from the processor by helping it circulate through the machine. Unlike the heatsink, a fan has moving parts and can be pretty noisy sometimes. 

To stay within a safe temperature range, it is advised to use both.

Further Reading

A healthy temperature while gaming is essential, but so is your refresh rate. That’s why I have also covered the best 144Hz laptops.