How to Monitor the System Temperature in Windows

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Windows doesn't include a native device temperature monitor program; third parties have stepped in to provide the tools instead. Monitoring component temperature is important because you can identify overheating and cooling issues before they cause problems. Overheating hardware can lead to malfunctions, crash the system and permanently damage components. Additionally, running your computer at high temperatures for prolonged periods can wear down hardware faster.

Monitor System Temperatures With SpeedFan

  • Download, install and run the SpeedFan software. SpeedFan is compatible with both AMD and Intel CPUs. SpeedFan monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures for hardware that has temperature monitoring chips or Digital Thermal Sensors. If the part has a DTS, it will show up in SpeedFan. A CPU always features DTS, but other hardware such as hard drives, motherboards and graphics cards -- a.k.a. video cards, video processors or graphics processing units (GPUs) -- range from common to hit-or-miss inclusion, respectively.

  • Open the Readings tab in the SpeedFan program to view the system temperature monitors. How SpeedFan identifies hardware components varies between systems. The CPU's overall temp and average core temps are identified by the CPU and Core designations, respectively. Hard drives, motherboards and GPUs are designated by "HD(number)," "MB," and "GPU," respectively. SpeedFan can't read temperatures from hardware without a DTS. SpeedFan may bring up temperatures for your CPU and hard drive, but not for your GPU. Overheating hardware is designated with a fire icon next to the temperature.

  • Click the "Charts" tab and check the boxes under "Value" for the hardware components you want to monitor. SpeedFan will track temperatures over time, which is useful because hardware temperatures don't remain stagnant. You can also monitor the CPU temperature by looking at the SpeedFan icon on the Taskbar system tray.

Monitor System Temperatures With Core Temp

  • Download, install and run Core Temp. Core Temp is compatible with all x86 processors (Intel and AMD). Core Temp is a specialized monitoring program and checks only the CPU temperature.

  • Check the "Temperature Readings" section to view your current CPU temperature. The program also tracks the highest and lowest registered temperature. The "Tj. Max" temperature reading is the highest possible temperature your CPU can hit before it encounters problems. Core Temp will display multiple CPU temperatures if your processor has unique sensors for each core.

  • Select "Options" and "Overheat protection" to launch Core Temp's preventative functions. You can configure the protection actionable temperature and set the system to pop an alert message, sleep, hibernate or shut down when the CPU reaches the maximum allowed temperature.

Monitor System Temperatures With Real Temp

  • Download, unzip and run Real Temp (see Resources). Real Temp doesn't need to be installed: it runs straight from the executable file. However, it works only with Intel CPUs.

  • Check the temperature rating for each CPU core under the Temperature section in the main window. If the computer's GPU features a DTS, Real Temp will identify the sensor and display the GPU temperature. Real Temp also tracks the minimum and maximum core temperatures.

  • Estimate if the CPU is running too hot by checking the "Distance to TJ Max" field. The field measures the thermal margin or the difference between the current temperature and the problematic temperature range: hitting zero or a negative number indicates overheating.

References

  • Photo Credit unkas_photo/iStock/Getty Images
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