Are you aware of the temperature of your processor?

It may seem like an odd thing to monitor, but the temperature  your processor runs at is quite important. While many computer components comes with some means of cooling themselves(such as the fan in power supplies), a processor usually does not come with its own means of removing heat. It has to rely on a component called a ‘heat sink’ in order to stop itself from overheating, which comes in the form of a large fan/metal sink that sits on top of the processor.

OverheatCPU1

So, what’s the big deal with keeping a processor cooled? Given the nature of a processor, it is easy to overheat without a heat sink installed – you’ll probably notice problems within a minute, or even seconds, from booting up the PC. You also run the risk of harming the processor from the heat, reducing its lifespan or even breaking it. In short, keeping your processor nice and cool is vital for your PC’s health.

The real problems begin when you have a heat sink installed on your computer, but your PC still shows signs and symptoms of overheating. This can be hard to catch if people are not aware of the symptoms of overheating.

If your PC is showing some of the signs below, perhaps you need to check up on the temperature of your processor.

  • The processor works fine for a while, but then suddenly drops in performance. Games may have a sharp drop in framerate while playing, and software may take a long time to process simple tasks. This is usually a symptom of an automated process called ‘throttling’, where the processor makes an attempt to save itself by cutting its own processing power.
  • The computer ‘randomly shuts down’. Sometimes you’ll be able to see the operating system engage its shut down procedure, but most of the time, the computer will die without warning, as if the power went out on it. This is due to the processor being unable to save itself and failing due to extreme heat. While a lot of problems (including power issues) will cause random shutdowns, you can tell if it’s a processor problem if the computer dies very quickly when you try to reboot it again after a random shutdown. This is due to the processor having no time to cool off, and shutting out again.
  • Your computer experiences Blue Screens of Death (BSOD). A BSOD is especially annoying to diagnose, as it could be anything from a driver to the hardware. When a processor overheats, sometimes it interrupts the computer’s work load, throwing it off-kilter and causing a blue screens. Blue screens are not always a symptom of an overheating processor, but if you also notice the above symptoms or your processor runs hot, it’s probably related to the processor.

In part 2 of this article, we’ll look at the steps you can take to see what’s causing the problem.

~ Simon