Video cards, also known as graphics cards or GPUs, are essential components of any modern PC. They are responsible for rendering images, videos, games, and other graphics-intensive applications on your monitor. However, like any other hardware device, video cards can overheat if they are not properly cooled or maintained. Overheating can cause performance issues, crashes, artifacts, and even permanent damage to your video card.
In this blog post, we will explain how to check your video card temperature, what are the common causes and symptoms of overheating, and how to fix or prevent it.
How to Check Your Video Card Temperature
There are several ways to monitor your video card temperature, but the easiest and most reliable one is to use a software utility that can display various information about your GPU, such as model, clock speed, fan speed, voltage, and of course, temperature.
Some of the most popular and free utilities for this purpose are GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner and HWiNFO. All of them support almost any video card on the market and can show you real-time or historical data on your GPU temperature and other parameters.
To use any of these utilities, you need to download and install them on your PC. Then, you need to run them and go to the section that shows the GPU temperature. For example, in GPU-Z, you need to go to the Sensors tab and look for the GPU Temperature value. In MSI Afterburner, you need to go to the Monitoring tab and enable the GPU Temperature option. In HWiNFO, you need to go to the Sensors window and look for the GPU [#0] Temperature value.
You can also enable logging or graphing features in these utilities to record or visualize your GPU temperature over time. This can help you identify any spikes or trends in your GPU temperature.
However, simply checking your GPU temperature at idle or under light load may not reveal the true potential of overheating. To get a more accurate picture of how hot your video card can get, you need to stress test it with a demanding workload, such as a game or a benchmark.
You can use any game or benchmark that pushes your video card to its limit, such as 3DMark, FurMark or Unigine Heaven. These programs will render complex scenes that will make your video card work hard and generate a lot of heat.
To stress test your video card with a game or a benchmark, you need to run it for at least 15 minutes while keeping an eye on your GPU temperature with one of the utilities mentioned above. You can also use an overlay feature that some of these utilities offer to display the GPU temperature on top of the game or benchmark window.
Alternatively, you can use Windows 10’s built-in feature that shows the GPU temperature in the Task Manager. To access this feature, you need to have Windows 10 May 2020 Update or newer installed on your PC. Then, you need to open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc or right-clicking on the Start menu icon and selecting Task Manager. Next, you need to go to the Performance tab and select your GPU from the list. You will see the current GPU temperature in the upper right corner of the window.
However, this feature only shows the current GPU temperature and not the historical data. It also may not be compatible with some older or custom video cards. Therefore, it is recommended to use one of the dedicated utilities for more reliable and comprehensive monitoring.
What are the Normal and Safe GPU Temperatures?
The normal and safe GPU temperatures vary depending on the model, manufacturer, cooling system, ambient temperature, and workload of your video card. However, as a general rule of thumb, most video cards operate within a temperature range of 65°C to 85°C (149°F to 185°F) when gaming or rendering videos.
Anything below 65°C is considered cool and optimal for your video card. Anything above 85°C is considered hot and risky for your video card. Anything above 95°C is considered critical and dangerous for your video card.
Of course, these are approximate values and may differ slightly depending on your specific video card model and configuration. To find out the exact maximum operating temperature of your video card, you can refer to its specifications sheet or user manual.
What are the Common Causes and Symptoms of Overheating?
There are many factors that can contribute to overheating your video card. Some of them are:
- Dust buildup: Dust is one of the main enemies of any PC component. It can accumulate over time inside your PC case and on your video card’s fan and heatsink. This can reduce airflow and heat dissipation efficiency, resulting in higher temperatures.
- Poor airflow: Airflow is essential for cooling your PC components. If your PC case has insufficient or obstructed intake and exhaust fans, or if your video card is too close to other components or the case wall, the hot air generated by your video card may not be able to escape properly, causing it to recirculate and increase the temperature.
- Restricted space: Space is another important factor for cooling your PC components. If your PC case is too small or cramped, or if your video card is too large or bulky, there may not be enough room for air to circulate and cool your video card effectively.
- Overclocking: Overclocking is the process of increasing the clock speed and voltage of your video card beyond its factory settings. This can improve its performance, but at the cost of generating more heat. If you overclock your video card without proper cooling and monitoring, you may cause it to overheat and become unstable.
- High ambient temperature: Ambient temperature is the temperature of the surrounding environment where your PC is located. If your room is too hot or humid, or if your PC is exposed to direct sunlight or other heat sources, your video card may not be able to cool down sufficiently, leading to overheating.
Some of the common symptoms of overheating your video card are:
- Loud fan noise: If your video card fan is spinning faster and louder than usual, it may indicate that it is trying to cool down a hot GPU. This can also cause more noise and vibration in your PC case.
- Performance issues: If your video card is overheating, it may throttle its clock speed and performance to prevent further damage. This can result in lower frame rates, stuttering, lagging, freezing, or crashing in games or other applications.
- Artifacts: Artifacts are visual glitches or distortions that appear on your monitor due to errors in rendering graphics. They can manifest as flickering, tearing, pixelation, color banding, or strange shapes or patterns. They can indicate that your video card is overheating and malfunctioning.
- BSOD: BSOD stands for Blue Screen of Death. It is a fatal error that causes Windows to crash and display a blue screen with an error code and message. It can indicate that your video card is overheating and causing system instability.
How to Fix or Prevent Overheating?
If you suspect that your video card is overheating, you should take immediate action to fix or prevent it. Here are some tips and solutions that can help you lower your GPU temperature and avoid overheating:
- Clean your PC: Cleaning your PC regularly is one of the best ways to prevent overheating. You should remove any dust or dirt from your PC case and video card fan and heatsink using a soft brush, a compressed air can, or a vacuum cleaner. You should also check and replace any damaged or loose cables or screws that may affect airflow or cooling efficiency.
- Improve airflow: Improving airflow in your PC case can also help reduce overheating. You should make sure that your PC case has enough intake and exhaust fans that are working properly and facing the right direction. You should also avoid placing any objects or cables that may block the airflow near or inside your PC case. You should also leave some space between your video card and other components or the case wall to allow air to circulate freely.
- Upgrade cooling system: Upgrading your cooling system can also help lower your GPU temperature. You can replace your stock video card fan and heatsink with a more powerful aftermarket one that can provide better cooling performance. You can also add more fans or install a liquid cooling system that can transfer heat more efficiently from your video card to a radiator outside your PC case.
- Adjust overclocking settings: Adjusting your overclocking settings can also help prevent overheating. You should monitor your GPU temperature and performance while overclocking and find the optimal balance between them. You should also avoid pushing your video card beyond its safe limits and apply adequate cooling and voltage for stability.
- Lower ambient temperature: Lowering the ambient temperature in your room can also help reduce overheating. You should keep your room cool and dry by using an air conditioner, a fan, a dehumidifier, or opening a window. You should also avoid placing your PC near any heat sources such as radiators, heaters, ovens, or direct sunlight.
Overheating is a common problem that can affect any video card if not properly cooled or maintained. It can cause various issues such as performance degradation, crashes, artifacts, or even permanent damage.
To determine if your video card is overheating, you need to check its temperature using a software utility such as GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner, HWiNFO, or Windows 10’s Task Manager You also need to stress test it with a game or a benchmark such as 3DMark, FurMark, Unigine Heaven to see how hot it can get under load.
The normal and safe GPU temperature range is between 65°C to 85°C