Just like all electronic components, CPU produces heat while it is running. Heat in excess, however, isn’t good and can even lead your CPU to burn or to work in an unstable way. In this tutorial you will learn what are the effects of high temperature over the CPU, will learn how to measure your CPU current temperature and will have access to tables listing the maximum supported temperature for the main CPUs available on the market.

Microprocessors heat due to Joule effect, which is the process of transforming electrical energy into heat. Inside the CPU there are several wires (conductors) in charge of its internal interconnections. The Joule effect appears due to the shock between electrons and the conductor ion mesh, leading to an increase in the temperature of the conductor.

The heat generated by an electronic device needs to be removed as soon as possible; otherwise its internal temperature will increase. If the device gets too hot internally, its internal circuits can be damaged, thing that we don’t want, of course.

The maximum CPU temperature is usually written on its body in a coded format – i.e., a letter added somewhere indicates what the CPU maximum temperature is. This code isn’t standardized; it varies according to the CPU. On the CPU datasheet, which is available at the manufacturer’s website, there is a section that explains the coding used on the CPU, which includes the CPU maximum temperature.

This temperature is the maximum temperature the CPU can work without burning. The lower the CPU temperature, the better. Good quality CPU coolers and the correct use of thermal grease will make your CPU to work way below its maximum rated temperature. Read our tutorial How to Correctly Apply Thermal Grease to learn more about this subject.

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.