Nothing is more frustrating than your GPU overheating while doing something important. You’ll want to keep your GPU running at a temperature between 40–60° Celsius while idle. Temperatures running consistently higher than this while idle could be signs of your GPU running too hot to function correctly.
What Is Considered “Idling?”
An idle PC is one that isn’t performing any intensive tasks. Generally, your PC is considered “idle” if it isn’t running any programs. Even light programs like Notepad should be closed when diagnosing an overheating GPU because anything which could put more strain on the GPU will give you an inaccurate idle temperature read.
What Are the Symptoms of an Overheating GPU?
The first symptoms of an overheating GPU appear when a person is doing something graphically intensive, like gaming.
The most common “smoking gun” (aside from your GPU literally beginning to smoke, of course!) is a few minutes of smooth play followed by a steady degradation in the graphics quality. After that, players might start to see screen artifacts, hear their GPU’s fan running high, or even encounter graphics-related errors in severe cases.
What Is Causing My GPU to Run Hot?
Many factors influence the temperature that your GPU runs at. For example, incorrect fan speed settings, graphics-intensive processes, background applications, and overclocking can cause your GPU to run hotter. Here are some common causes of a GPU running too warm.
Built-up dust and dirt trap heat and prevent the GPU’s heatsink from effectively cooling the component. Using compressed air can blow the dust away from your GPU and can be used with other components in your system as well!
Fan speed is one of the most common causes of a GPU running too hot. Our GPUs fans move the heat produced by the GPU away from the unit to keep it cool; that’s why our cases need ample ventilation to avoid the components becoming overheated.
If you’ve capped your GPU’s fan speeds, this could cause your GPU to overheat since the fans cannot run at an adequately high speed to quickly circulate hot air away from the GPU. Keeping that hot air around your GPU will harm cooling.
Background Applications and Processes
Your GPU may also be running hot if your computer is running many background tasks that utilize the GPU. For example, a graphically-intensive website or high-definition video in your browser tabs might cause your GPU to run hot suddenly.
Start by closing tabs in your browser and exiting unnecessary applications. This will start to lighten the load right away. Next, look for any tabs playing sounds, even if they’re muted, as these videos might be causing undue stress on your GPU.
You can close all unnecessary apps and processes to see if your GPU is still running hot. Then, using the Task Manager, you can complete applications and processes that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to access.
Press CTRL + ALT + Delete to access your Task Manager and select “Task Manager.” Then navigate to the “Processes” tab and manually close unnecessary processes. Do not close “System” or “Explorer” as these processes are the ones that run your operating system and are necessary for your computer to function.
See If Your GPU Is Overclocked
All GPUs come with an “out-of-the-box” clock speed that is safe and usable for most modern processes. However, some connoisseurs may overclock their GPU to get it to run faster and support more intensive processes.
Naturally, running your GPU at a higher clock speed will cause it to run hotter on average. So, if your GPU is running hot, make sure it’s running at the stock clock speed. If you need to, you can even reduce the clock speed by capping it at a lower clock speed to prevent the GPU from overheating.
Damaged or Inadequate Heatsink
Your GPU may also be running hot if the heatsink has been damaged or inadequate for its needs. Additionally, the needs of programs change as time progresses; applications become more intensive and impose a higher load on your GPU.
Your heatsink may have also been damaged. While incidents tend to be rare, components can be damaged in transit. Heatsinks can also be damaged by usual wear and tear, improper seating of a graphics card, and exposure to liquids.
One common way a GPU heatsink can be damaged is the thermal paste drying up. Thermal paste quickly transfers heat from the GPU to the heatsink and allows the fans to promptly move heat away from the GPU and keep temperatures down.
However, if the thermal paste dries completely, it will no longer function to its full efficacy. Of course, you can replace your own thermal paste, but before doing so, it’s imperative to ensure that your GPU is still under warranty in case anything goes awry.
Inadequate Power Supply
Your power supply could also inadvertently put undue stress on your graphics card. For example, suppose the power supply does not supply enough energy to the graphics card. In that case, the graphics card will run at a slower speed and may be laboring to provide enough power to its internal components to run at the speeds required for some modern games and even your operating system in severe cases.
Inadequate power is usually caused by an inexperienced PC builder misjudging the amount of energy needed to run all the chosen components. However, this issue can cause long-term damage to your PC components. So, it’s best to correct the problem as soon as possible.
Power supplies can also run less efficiently as they get older. So, if you’ve had your power supply for a long time, it might be time to let it go peacefully.
How to Lower GPU Temperatures
Lowering your GPU temperature should be high on your list of priorities if you’ve been having trouble with an overheating GPU. An overheating GPU can damage itself from running too hot; it can also harm other components in your PC by exposing them to excess heat. So here are some ways to lower your GPU temperature.
1. Close Background Processes
Closing background processes can help lower your GPU speed by giving the GPU fewer graphics to process. While we don’t usually consider things like browsing the internet to be intensive, websites are becoming progressively heavier. In addition, many websites load high-definition photos and videos that can add a deceptive strain to your GPU.
2. Raise Your GPU’s Fan Curve
Raising the speed of your GPU’s built-in fans can help lower the overall temperature of your GPU. Most GPUs include pre-packaged software that will allow you to take control of your GPU’s fan curve manually.
3. Use Compressed Air to Clean Your GPU (and Other Components!)
Compressed air is a necessary tool for any PC owner. You can use compressed air to clean just about any PC part. Getting that dust away from your components will help them run more efficiently.
4. Utilize FPS Caps
In severe cases, FPS caps can keep your GPU cool. While seeing your game in a 125 FPS might be nice, it’s very graphically intensive to run a game at such a high framerate, and lowering your FPS cap to 60 can help your GPU run at a cooler temperature.
5. Cap Your GPU’s Clock Speed
In even more severe cases of graphical overload, you can cap your GPU’s clock speed to prevent it from attempting to run too fast and overheat. You’ll have to use the GPU’s proprietary software or third-party software that can control how fast your GPU runs.
6. Add Extra Case Fans to Improve Ventilation
If your GPU is only running slightly hot, you might be able to get away with just adding some extra case fans to increase the case ventilation. This won’t just help your GPU; it will improve the efficacy of all your components by keeping them cool!
A high GPU temperature isn’t just aggravating; it can damage your PC components beyond repair if left uncontrolled. Luckily, controlling your GPU temperature is relatively easy to do! You’ll be able to get it done quickly with a bit of elbow grease!