Overheating graphics cards are a source of a lot of headaches for gamers and although they are not the first thing we consider checking, they are oftentimes indicative of larger problems at bay.
We’re going to take a closer look to see what is the best GPU temperature for gaming as well as both fixes and other possible issues.
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The Ideal Temperature
Modern games require your GPU to work at high levels as they are specifically made with performance in mind and they are first looked at when resources are required.
You may find it interesting to know that GPU temperature is directly correlated to the resolution at which your display is outputting images. Although when you more closely consider the process, it will seem logical. The bigger resolution required, the more pixels are expected to be shown and thus, more computations are required from the GPU. Simple, isn’t it?
Another curiosity is that the GPU temperature might be limited by your location on Earth. Logically, if you’re gaming in a tropical climate as opposed to say Iceland, you’re going to experience higher GPU temperatures and are going to need to invest more into cooling them.
These numbers are dependant on the GPU, but most of the time the maximum temperature an Nvidia GPU can run at is around the 95-100 Celsius mark (~200-210 Fahrenheit). Although GPUs can withstand those temperatures, they are absolutely not recommended and if your card is reaching those levels of heat, it’s plain and simple overheating.
On the other side, most AMD cards can withhold much less, but they are accordingly less powerful. Most of the time their upper limit is in the 75-85 Celsius range (~165-185 Fahrenheit).
Nvidia’s optimal range is between 70 and 85 degrees Celsius (~158-185 Fahrenheit), while AMD’s are at their best at around 60 to 70 Celsius (~140-158 Fahrenheit).
How To Know If The GPU Is Overheating?
First, it’s good to know how to check if your GPU is overheating and if that is in fact your problem.
Luckily, both AMD and Nvidia are providing their own software where that you can download from their sites to check (obviously download the one whose GPU you have).
If you don’t want to download those or are also interested in knowing what your other components are doing and at what temperature, there are good options available, namely Piriform Speccy and CPUID CPU-Z. Despite the latter’s name suggests it’s a CPU tool, it’s a really cool tool that allows monitoring all of your components.
Why Is The GPU Overheating?
It’s important to know why GPU overheats in order to know how to fix the issue. The logical answer may be that it’s simply overworked, and while that technically is true, it’s also an offhand diagnosis that doesn’t really offer any solution to fixing the issue.
As we go through the possible issues, we’ll also get into how they can be fixed.
This issue is actually a lot more common than people would believe. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to periodically disassemble your entire PC (or at least open up the case) and make sure things are clear of dust.
The reason why dust heats the graphics card is that of physics. Tiny particles of dirt are simply blocking the extra heat from dissipating and the more dust there is, there is more and more heat being retained. Even though this is not the biggest threat to you short-circuiting your GPU, there are still dangers of this, so be careful.
The most common way to get rid of this problem you’ll find online is to use an air compressor, but you should know that you need to be careful with this method as it can damage fans if they are spun too quickly (which can happen) during the blowing out process. You can still be one step ahead and hold the fan with your finger, preventing it from spinning at all.
Another method to clean the dust is using a cotton swab and alcohol. This method is maybe less effective on the chip but could be a better option for the heatsink.
It’s of utmost importance that when you’re cleaning your GPU, you clean the rest of the case as well, including the CPU, motherboard, PSU, and be thorough when getting rid of dust in all the little pockets where it can needlessly pile up. Since the airflow inside the case is very important, it just won’t work to remove dust from one component and leave the rest dusty.
Although most modern GPUs are so powerful that they can run billions of computations, they can still be a place where your PC bottlenecks.
This can happen due to a variety of reasons but in most modern setups, it’s a result of poor optimization on the part of game developers. Still, if there is a large discrepancy between the computing power of your CPU when compared to your GPU, the bottlenecking can happen.
Unfortunately, there simply aren’t a lot of good and applicable solutions to this problem aside from getting a better GPU. There are stuff that can be done on the CPU side of things, but as far as GPUs go, you can’t do much more than lowering your settings and hoping for the best.
Poor Case Placement
This issue is two-fold. First, it’s important to have the case positioned in the best possible place to allow the best airflow. This is often the issue when the PC is positioned someplace where it’s boxed in which stops the air from freely flowing in and around the case.
This issue is often doubly important if the temperature in which you’re doing your gaming is high as well. As odd as it may sound, this issue is particularly highlighted during the summer months.
Placing the case somewhere away from the wall and other similar structures where it can “breathe” is the best solution and it’s honestly surprising how much this simple fix can help.
Bad Airflow Inside The Case
This can happen a lot in the home builds as figuring out the proper positioning of the fans and managing intake and all that can be confusing, especially if those are the finishing touches of who knows how long the process of building your PC.
Another thing that can be a consequence of the PC building fatigue is poor cable management and that can be another contributing factor to the lack of air flowing through the case.
The solution here is tedious but worthwhile. Double-checking that the fans are positioned correctly and that cables are neatly tucked away is the best thing you can do for your PC temperature. Also, make sure that your fans are providing enough cooling power for your setup. No amount of airflow management can make up for that when looking to game enjoyably.
What can be a little bump in your road to getting better airflow is the way in which your GPU is cooled. There are two types of fans on the GPU, blower fan and open-air fans, and you want to be conscious of those when managing the airflow inside the case.
Remember, just because your GPU isn’t affected by the extra heat, your CPU can easily be the next available “victim”.
Another thing that can be externally manipulated as far as fans go, is the speed at which they are spinning. Even though most modern GPU manufacturers make their GPUs to automatically increase fan speed as necessary, you might want to enjoy an even smoother experience and turn it all the way up.
The best free solutions for fan speed are Open Hardware Monitor and SpeedFan. MSI Afterburner is another great tool and is worth checking out because it can do a lot more.
Playing GPU Intensive Games
The saddest reason here is also the simplest.
Another discouraging possibility for your overheating GPU might be one of your own making. Overclocking itself brings instability to the GPU and many do it while being well-aware of possible consequences that they setups may suffer.
With the way overclocking is now getting easier than ever, many are venturing in that direction simply aiming for better performance without carefully considering the pros and cons of such process.
The solution here might feel like another admittance of defeat, but it may be for the best to return your GPU to its default clock. Another answer may be a product of sheer stubbornness, but it’s also possible to manually engineer extra fans to cool down the GPU, although we can’t recommend this in good conscience.
How Important Is The GPU Temperature?
The answer to this should be obvious, but in case it isn’t, GPU temperature is very important. Overheating GPU can lead to a decrease in performance and that’s something you probably want the least if you’re already pushing its limits.
If your screen suddenly turns black, you can consider that as a light warning from your GPU, telling you point-blank that you’re overdoing it and need to cool it (pun intended).
A lot worse scenario is your GPU straight up frying instead of calling a timeout. Luckily, this is by and large a thing of the past due to the manufacturers’ proper care for stuff like this.