Having thermals in control with your PC build is crucial as heat is the leading cause for failing components. Hot components will expand and contract due to the heating and cooling process which will shorten its lifespan, the best way to prevent this from happening is by having sufficient cooling and airflow.
The graphics card is the most important component for a gaming PC as it accelerates the graphical potential of your PC build. When you’re gaming, the more intensive the game is, the harder your GPU will work and the hotter it will run. Is there a specific temperature that is too hot for gaming, and what are the consequences of getting too hot?
Answer: Graphics cards can run pretty hot, far hotter than CPUs, the average temperature for NVIDIA graphics cards are 70-85C degrees Celsius(158-185 Fahrenheit). With AMD it is slightly lower at around 60-70 Celsius (140-158 Fahrenheit). Any hotter, and your graphics card depending on the manufacturer will start throttling.
How To Check If GPU Is Overheating?
Graphics cards like most processing units will have temperature sensors that can detect the operating heat of the device. You can access the sensor’s data by using various software and applications, and through here you will be able to tell if your GPU is overheating. Knowing this data can help you find out whether your GPU is throttling and how you can improve this situation.
Benchmarking software is the best way you can check whether your graphics card is overheating and hitting a thermal throttle. It will push your graphics card to its max by causing it to run at 100%, if your GPU gets too hot, and the clock speeds begin to drop, then your GPU is overheating. The best way to fix this is to implement a sufficient airflow strategy to effectively dissipate heat.
In extreme circumstances, most GPUs should have a temperature limit that if reached, GPU will automatically shut down. This usually happens to prevent heat-induced damage, and if you’ve reached this stage, then it’s pretty obvious your graphics card is overheating. This can be caused by many reasons such as insufficient contact to the GPU die.
MSI Afterburner is the OG GPU overclocking and benchmarking software that can display information about your graphics card. This information includes Voltages, Fan speeds, Core clocks, Memory clocks, Power Limit, and Temperature Limits. This is a lot of information, and through here you can set certain parameters that can help you keep your GPU temperatures low.
You can manually set the values of the specifications, and if you feel like your GPU is running too hot, you can manually set the fan speed to avoid boost clock throttling. Also, if you feel like your GPU has a bit of thermal headroom, you can use MSI afterburner to overclock your graphics card. If you mess up any settings, do not worry as you can reset them to their default values.
The GUI of MSI afterburner is pretty user-friendly which can allow the user to quickly grasp the ins and outs of the software. The ease of use MSI afterburner provides means the user can quickly change parameters without getting too confused. Overall MSI afterburner provides a lot of value and it’s free, most gamers that have built their PC would have this installed.
- Works in non MSI devices.
- Works with laptops and devices with no dedicated GPUs.
- Easy to use software.
- Can be used to overclock.
- Safe for overclocking, it won’t damage your GPU.
- Sometimes not worth overclocking.
3DMark is a really powerful software that can apply stress on your graphics card so you can get a general idea of how it would perform in a really graphically intensive situation. At the end of the benchmark, you will receive a score of how your system has performed, and you can compare this score to other similar builds to see what you can do better.
When 3DMark is stressing your graphics cards, the temperatures will obviously increase, and you can see how hot your graphics card is getting during intensive situations. If your GPU is reaching really high temperatures to the point it is throttling, then you may have to implement better cooling solutions. If you notice your clock speeds dropping which it will display, then you’re hitting the thermal throttle limit
3DMark has a free option which should be enough for stressing your graphics card, but there is an advanced version of the software that will allow the user to stress the GPU at resolutions of 4K. Overall, this is pretty useful software when you’re looking to see how your components fare against similar builds, if the scores are pretty low, then you may need to improve upon your build.
- Shows your PCs weaknesses in stressful scenarios.
- You can compare your scores with similar builds.
- Free verison is enough for most users.
- Great analytics compared to other benchmarking software.
- None notable.
Is 100% GPU Usage Dangerous For A GPU?
When your graphics card is running at 100%, it could seem like it’s something bad, but this just means your graphics card is running at its full potential. 100% GPU usage isn’t a bad thing inherently, but there are a few scenarios where it could be really bad. When gaming, if your GPU is at 100%, then this means there are no bottlenecks and you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for.
If your graphics card is running at 100%, it shouldn’t be a bad thing unless you have really bad heat management. When gaming, if your graphics card is at 100%, then you can expect maximum frame rate, but if you’re thermal throttling, then you will notice FPS drops and overall lower average frame rates due to the GPU limiting its clock speed.
If you’re certain you’re not gaming, and you’re not utilizing your GPU in any way, but it’s still running at 100%, then this can be a really bad sign. This is a sign that you have malware on your PC utilizing your GPUs resources to mine cryptocurrency, the only solution to this is to install anti-malware software or completely wipe your drives.
How To Cool Down A Graphics Card
If you’re having thermal problems then it may be a sign that you need to clean your PC case and rid it of dust. Dust can interfere with the heat dissipation in your PC case causing overall temperature increases, if you notice dust in your GPU fans, then compressed air is your best option of getting rid of it. Frequently cleaning your PC case is good practice and should be done every few months.
Installing case fans to improve airflow can increase the thermals of your overall PC, not just your graphics cards. By implementing case fans, you can instruct it to blow cold air in and exhaust the hot air out. This is an optimal setup for PC builds, you can set it so cold air is blown in from the front and exhausted out the back or the top. Encouraging good airflow is a sign of a good PC build, poorly built PCs will have bad airflow setups and overall bad case management.
A more advanced method is installing an aftermarket GPU cooler, this is mainly beneficial if you’ve purchased a reference GPU that usually has not-so-great cooling solutions. Aftermarket coolers are usually bulkier and have more fans, but this requires you to disassemble your graphics card by removing its current cooler. You will have to reapply a layer of thermal paste to the GPU die, and this will void your warranty, do this if you’re 100% sure you want to.
In conclusion, the average GPU temperature when gaming depends on what GPU you have, for example, NVIDIA and AMD cards have different average temperatures and thermal limits. Thermal limits are limits implemented by the GPU manufacturers and they have automatic implications when met. If your GPU meets a certain temperature, then your graphics card may stop boosting and lower its clock speed, this results in lower FPS in games.
There is software out there that can push your graphics card to its max limits so you can get a general understanding of how it behaves in intensive situations. Benchmarking software is almost like a staple application for gamers that want to tweak and optimize their gaming builds. They display the FPS, temperature and clock speeds in intensive situations, and you can apply tweaks from there.