How much CPU heat is too much?

I'm a software guy, not much of a hardware buff. So I've got a bit of a noob question. How hot is it ok for a CPU to get under load?

I'm using a Core 2 Duo e4400 with the stock cooler. Encoding to h264 with mencoder or playing warcraft 3 gives me temps of about 80*C. Is this likely to be hurting my hardware at all? Idling, my cpu hovers anywhere between 25*C and 45*C, which seems fine. But if I'm encoding a DVD for instance, or just gaming for an extended period, I worry that my hardware is being damaged over time.

Aside from damage, how much performance difference is there in running a CPU at a significantly hotter/cooler temperature?

Any advice? Do I need to invest in a better cooling setup?
8 answers Last reply
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  1. ya 80C is quite high and is not good for the hardware, and 45c is a high idle temp too. Are you sure your heatsink is set right?

    my core temps dont go above 30c idle on my oc'd e6750
  2. 80c is to hot for that CPU.
    The 65nm generation C2 chips should max out no higher than 75c.
    I would highly recomend a new CPU cooler like a Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro.
  3. If you7 are not overclocking, stock cooler should be fine. Check all 4 pushpins are fully engaged, or safer, remove, clean and reapply thermal compound of your choice. When refittig, check all 4 pushpins engage and stay engaged. When securing the final one it is common for opposite one to disengage.

  4. Thanks for the info everyone, I will look into cleaning and re-applying thermal compound (this is likely the reason for high temps since I removed and re-installed my heatsink from the cpu recently to remove dust).

    If it's still too high, I guess I'll look into a new cooler. Many thanks for clearing that up for me.

    gators, are you using the stock cooling gear? or better after market stuff?
  5. fatalGlory, you might want to just look at getting some artic silver 5 thermal paste instead of a whole new cooler since you're not oc'ing. this will bring your temps down drastically.
  6. That's pretty much the plan, but I only have, I guess, intermediate experience actually building PCs. Thermal paste isn't something I've played with much. Last time I removed the heatsink, I noticed that the "paste" was now a dry, caked on patch that seemed like it was going to be difficult to remove from my CPU or heatsink surface.

    On to the random PC building tutorials for me, unless someone points me somewhere more helpful.
  7. Update, had my first go at cleaning my CPU and heatsink and re-applying thermal compound with significant success. Idle is now down at about 35*C (which for a hot, dusty room is okay I think). Encoding a DVD VOB to h264 now gets me up to about 53*C and encoding while playing a game of starcraft (in wine, so stress is on CPU not graphics card I think), I got peak temps of 58*C. This is down from 80-85*C doing just one of these at a time.

    Still not amazing, but alright for a high stress task on the stock cooler. Thanks for the info everyone.
  8. Thats pretty close to what my pc does. Im at 30C at idle and 48C-55C running cod4, bf2142, graw2 etc. Im runnng an e6600 with stock intel heatsink & fan w/ no OC. My room temp is average 72F.
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