What’s a normal GPU temperature? That all depends on your GPU and how you use your system, but I can at least give you some guidelines.
What causes temperatures to rise above normal
GPUs aren’t just for 3D graphics in video games, even though that’s what we associate them with. Almost anything video-related relies heavily on the GPU, because we compress video so heavily to make it usable. That means watching videos on Youtube, but it also means having video calls over Zoom, or streaming video over Netflix.
Intense 3D games will stress the GPU more than 2D video playback does, but it’s all work that our GPUs offload from the CPU.
Normal GPU temperatures I’ve observed
I can’t boot my laptop up without the GPU temperature going to 60 degrees Celsius. And it will stay at that temperature even if the system sits idle. The most demanding thing I do on it is watching video. Typically I’ll see the temperature rise to 70-72 degrees while watching video.
Newer, more powerful GPUs will handle streaming video without straining that hard. But a 72-degree temperature under normal use isn’t alarming.
I’ll run Foldingathome, which basically runs the GPU all out all the time if you’ll let it. Under those cases, the GPU will reach maximum temperature and then throttle. On my Nvidia GPUs, that maximum temperature they’ll reach before throttling is somewhere around 82 degrees Celsius. My friends’ AMD GPUs will let themselves run hotter, around 85 degrees.
I may be shortening the life expectancy of my card, but I also still expect it to be obsolete before the chip wears out.
What is a safe GPU temperature?
Every 10 degrees Celsius halves chip life expectancy, in theory. That’s why our systems have fans in them to control temperature. The maximum safe GPU temperature is debatable and I’m not sure the GPU makers completely agree on what that number is. In a perfect world I’d keep my GPU temperatures below 80 degrees C all the time. My Nvidia GPUs will throttle at a temperature slightly above that, and I’ve run an Nvidia GPU at 80 degrees for months on end without breaking it. My friends have run their AMDs at 85 without breaking theirs.
A modern GPU will throttle before it gets too hot, and you can’t really configure that setting. You can add more cooling to try to keep it from reaching that temperature, and as long as you don’t overclock, that’s an effective way to control your GPU max temperature and maybe even lower your GPU normal temperature. Most modern GPUs will turbo boost to an extent, and that extra cooling may let them sustain that speed longer, but they’ll only turbo boost when the load they’re under justifies it. Here’s how I added a fan to my boring Dell Optiplex to keep my GPU a bit cooler.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.