Acceptable CPU temperatures

I’ve just built my first PC, and when I was checking the BIOS, the CPU temperature was between 38 and 42 C. Is this too hot, considering that I wasn’t doing anything intensive by using BIOS? My motherboard temperature was around 22-23 C.

I installed the standard fan/heatsink that came with the CPU, but I replaced the thermal compound that came already on the heatsink with a better quality one. Since it’s my first time, I’m not sure I did it right though.

For questions like this it is usually useful to post what CPU you’re talking about since different CPU lines have different thermal parameters… but having said that, 38-42c idle temps are fine for just about anything, and pretty much exactly what you’d expect to see on most Core 2 Duo chips using the stock intel heatsink & fan.

Well, that’s OK, but it really depends on the CPU. If it’s a 45nm, it’ll be OK but you would expect a few degrees lower.

Again, not bad.

One other thing, though, is you should probably test it under load using prime95 and a temperature monitoring programing like coretemp or whatever the kids are using these days… It is entirely possible that the thermal compound is enough to keep the idle temps in check but not applied well enough to keep loaded temperatures down. So I’d recommend checking that, but chances are your system is perfectly fine.

Thanks a lot for the answers, my CPU is a Core 2 Duo E8500. I’ve installed a temperature monitoring program called Real Temp. So far the maximum temperature has been 41 for using windows and browsing in the internet, I have yet to test with a game.

Thats pretty normal belgerog. My core 2 idles at around 36-37 C.

I’ve just played some Stalker Clear Sky, the max temperature was 51 C.

You’re fine. I’ve managed to get my E6600 down to similar temperatures in a small form-factor case, so you could probably shave off a tad more with the careful application of some thermal compound.

But you won’t send the system to an early grave. My temps have been constant for two years, which is surprising. Not even the slight buildup of dust around the point where the cooler meets the CPU has changed it.

So if I want to add more thermal compound, do I have to clean the old compound from the CPU and heatsink? If so, how do you do that, with alcohol?

The temperature goes high if you are in the bios.

Don’t know why but usually when you’ve booted the SO you’ll see much lower temperatures.

Yes, alcohol. And a Q-tip so you can get it squeaky clean.

Awesome, thank you all.

Yes. Clean your old compound from both. I don’t know what you used, but you might google to find out what you should use to remove it. I used Arctic Silver on my rig, and got the cleaner, too.

My experience with thermal compounds is to follow the manufacturer’s directions fairly carefully.

My rig is now 2.5 years old, and has C2D 6400 processor overclocked to 3.1GHz. My cpu temperatures are around 25 C idle and 35 under load. I also have a Tuniq Tower sitting on top of that cpu, and until this thread had no idea just how cool my temperatures were in comparison with the stock fan.

Be careful with that. Putting too much thermal compound on can be as bad or worse than putting not enough. If you’re using the stock intel heatsink/an you probably aren’t going to get the temps much lower just by changing the amount of thermal compound.

And lastly, thermal compound usually has a bit of a breaking-in period. The temps you measure on the CPU could drop as much as 5C (though usually more like 2 or 3) after you’ve gone through a few cycles of using your computer at load for a few hours and then turning it off for a while, so even if your temps seem a tiny bit on the high side (and really, yours are fine as-is), you might want to wait and see what happens after the break-in period before you go and change the paste.

The stock heatsink/fan is not that hard for add-on coolers to beat, but in my experience it is perfectly adequate even when you’re doing fairly significant overclocks on the Core 2 chips because unless you REALLY push the chips way outside of their intended operating range, overclocking them tends to generate a fairly minimal amount of extra heat on top of the base temps. This isn’t true of all CPUs, of course, but it is true of all the Core 2s I’ve owned and OCed.

Heh I wish I could get my CPU down to that. I have a Q6600 B3 revision, meaning it runs hotter than the current Q6600’s, with a Thermalright Ultra 120. This was the first PC I’ve built so I applied the paste incorrectly, and got an average of 48C idle. That was higher that expected after 2 months so I removed it and re-applied the paste under the eye of actually my boss who’d been building computers since the mid 90’s. 2 months later I was averaging 45 on idle, so I did get a nice improvement but still higher than it should be with a high end cooler from what the forums said.

The last time I decided not to trust myself and paid a computer repair company I know that’s good $20 to do it. Months later I’m still idling at 45. Under 100% load using Orthos overnight I hit 56. So that’s probably where I’m going to sit, I’m not likely going to lap either my cooler or my CPU.

Fun fact, my PC heats my room up from the 17C of the rest of the house to a toasty 26C.

Edit: My case is this enormous thing, with lots of fans so its not the case temp.

Your CPU temperate will also vary with your case temperature, and your case temperature will vary with the environment temperature.

Mine only shoots up to 50°C after playing an intensive game in a warm room when I don’t turn on the AC. Otherwise it idles at 31°C, which seems almost too cool.

I’ve tried using another software for temperature monitoring (SpeedFan), and this one shows higher temperatures: I idle at 42 C, and when playing stalker it was a steady 55 with a few 56 spikes. Fallout 3 was around 51.

I got fancy with my tuniq and lapped it down to a mirror shine. I wish I had the guts to have done the same to the cpu. I was amazed at how flatter the metal became, and perhaps that’s affected the temperatures.

With the i7s out and due to drop in summer, when I’ll have some time, it will likely be worth my while to build a new box, and then donate the innards of this one to my mom, who’s working on an ancient P1. She’ll think she’s died and gone to heaven!

This has been reported with Asus motherboards only, I think. Something like ten degrees too much listed in the BIOS. I tend to use Asus, so if the numbers lie, my case is actually pretty cool.