How hot is your PC running, and why is this important? You can find the answers in one of two ways. You can take the liberty of downloading a tool that will tell you precisely what you want to know, or you can use a hardware monitor.
Keeping your PC cool is as important as keeping water in a radiator. When they fry, it could mean a whole new machine is needed. Let’s avoid this problem together.
You don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty of UEFI/BIOS to measure your CPU’s temperature. Monitoring applications use the same physical temperature sensors in your system as your UEFI/BIOS, but make it accessible right through Windows. That means you can check it without a restart and you can also force your CPU to do something difficult so you can see how warm it gets when it’s working hard.
There are a number of first- and third-party apps out there that you can use to get quick and easy access to your CPU’s temperature, as well as a lot more information. Some of them can be a little overwhelming, but if you’re just looking to find out how to check your CPU temperature, our favorites listed below will see you right.
If you have an Intel Core processor, then Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) is arguably the best way to check how hot your processor is running. Although designed primarily as an overclocking tool, Intel XTU comes with a number of built-in monitoring functions as well.
Step 1: To find out how hot your CPU is when running it, download the program from Intel’s download center and install it like you would any application.
Step 2: While booting it up, you’ll be presented with a lot of information, but in the lower panel of the main screen, you’ll see a few pieces of key information about your CPU. Most important for this particular guide is the package temperature and associated graph. That’s your CPU temperature.
Step 3: You can also see how hard your CPU is working by its CPU Utilization percentage. The higher that is, the more your CPU is having to do. If you want to see how it does under stress, you can use XTU’s built-in CPU benchmark under the relevant left-hand tab.
AMD Ryzen Master
Step 1: If you’re running one of AMD’s new Ryzen processors, you can make use of AMD’s own Ryzen Master tool. It works in much the same way as Intel’s XTU, but for Ryzen chips instead. Head on over to its download center to install the program.
Step 2: Alongside its core clock-tweaking abilities, it also has a CPU temperature monitor you can view on the left-hand side. Like the XTU, there’s also a graph that can plot your CPU’s temperature over time, even breaking it down by the core, so you can see if individual cores are getting warmer than others.
Step 3: The Ryzen Master tool can also give you average and peak readings, so you can see how hot your CPU gets over a long period, which is great for those concerned about time of day or outside forces affecting CPU temperature.
A classic PC-monitoring solution, HWMonitor can tell you everything about the various components in your system, from the voltages they require to the temperatures they run. It doesn’t feature any sort of overclocking tools, and its interface is bare-bones, but it’s clean, lightweight, and easy to parse at a glance. Download it here.
The HWMmonitor Pro version, which is available for free with ads, has expanded capabilities and allows you to monitor up to 10 devices, including Android devices. That makes it an ideal pick if you want to monitor temperatures on everything you use (and avoid accidentally damaging your smartphone battery with too much heat).
If none of the above methods are quite what you’re looking for when it comes to checking your CPU temperature, you could always opt for a hardware monitor. These typically come as part of fan controllers that slot into one of the optical drive ports on desktop systems. They sometimes use your onboard temperature sensors, but many come with their own wired thermometers to give you additional information about how hot your CPU is getting.
Note: These hardware monitors do require installation to some degree, so be prepared to open up your PC to fit them, or pay to have it done by a professional. For tips on DIY PC building, check out our guide to building your first PC.
Here are some hardware monitors worth considering:
Buy at Amazon Thermaltake Commander FT ($40): The Thermaltake Commander FT is a touchscreen fan controller that provides you with temperature readouts for multiple channels on a 5.5-inch display screen. You can control multiple fans to keep your system from overheating and lets you monitor your CPU closely.
Buy at Amazon Kingwin Performance FPX-007 ($35): Although we price this controller at $35, you can usually get it cheaper. The Kingwin fan controller lets you monitor up to five temperatures, including CPU, simultaneously and control five different fans. It even includes a built-in alarm to alert you if your CPU ever gets too hot.
Aerocool Fan V12XT Fan and Temperature Controller ($37): Aerocool’s monitor lets you control as many as four sets of temperature readings and fans with its LCD touchscreen. You will see a display of the CPU’s temperature on the screen, and you will be able to control the fan settings. You can set the alarm to alert you of dangerously high internal temperatures as well.
On a Mac? Try TG Pro
TG Pro is our top pick for Mac users. With this app, you can effectively spot any dangerous red flags by monitoring internal temperatures and controlling the fan feature.
Apple has given its stamp of approval for this app, confirming that all macOS updates support it. You can learn more and download it here.