I just built a computer using an i5 3570k. According to the BIOS, it's running at about 50C which seems high without any sort of overclock... I'm pretty sure I'm going to order a CM 212+ and some new thermal paste, but could I use the computer until those things arrive? Or would that potentially damage the CPU?
50C in the BIOS is definitely too high (not "true" idle in the BIOS, but it should still be lower than 50C). I agree with das_stig's assessment that it sound's like the HSF isn't seated well. Check the pins, and if you can easily pull any of them out without unlocking them, it's not correct.
It's seated appropriately. I had some trouble with the thermal paste that might be the problem... I had to reapply new stuff because I got interrupted the first time I started building, but the stuff I got was more of a clay than a paste so it didn't spread well and probably isn't thick enough. I just ordered the CM 212+ and some Arctic 5. In the mean time, can I still use my computer without damaging it?
I just ordered the CM 212+ and some Arctic 5. In the mean time, can I still use my computer without damaging it?
You should download a program to monitor CPU temperature from the OS rather than BIOS. On my PC (C2D-E8400), I get 45C from BIOS, 33C idle under Windows, 55C at full-load... BIOS temperature is about half-way between Windows idle and full-load.
What matters is the temperature under your typical load with an OS loaded, not temperature readout in BIOS. At 50C, you are nowhere near Ivy Bridge's 105C thermal limit.