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CPU Maximum Temperatures

Following on from the cooling article we look at the maximum temperatures of CPU's. Even though we use fans and heatsinks CPU temperatures can still raise if they are being used at full power for a long period of time. Using CPU's at high temperatures can lower cause system crashes in the short term and in the long term cause the life of your CPU to be greatly reduced. In extreme cases your CPU could burn out or melt onto the motherboard. This usually happens when a fan breaks down and goes unnoticed. Today's motherboards come with temperature monitoring software and hardware which actually shuts the computer off if the CPU temperature gets too hot. Even these however are not 100% fail proof. The only way to be sure is to check your fans and other cooling equipment regularly and also use CPU thermometers to check your CPU temperature is stable and not raising over time. CPU's have a rated maximum temperature sometimes called a critical temperature. What this boils down to (quick pun :} ) is what the manufacturer states is the maximum temperature the CPU will operate at. This is not to say you want your CPU to operate at this temperature as it will be borderline between working and burning out. Always try to keep at least 20C below this value if you can. Below is a table showing you the critical temperatures for most of the CPU's we use today.

Please be aware that as faster models are released even under the same name the thermal requirements may change. this table is meant for a guide only. Critical temperature is often referred as Critical Case temperature as CPU core temperatures are difficult to report accurately.

Some of the CPU's below have varying critical temperatures depending on the model, these are represented by a range of values in the table below.

CPU Critical Temperature
AMD Athlon Series
AMD Athlon (socket) up to 1Ghz 90°C
AMD Athlon (slot) all speeds 70°C
AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.1Ghz+ 95°C
AMD Athlon MP 1.33Ghz+ 95°C
AMD Athlon XP 1.33Ghz+ 90°C
AMD Athlon XP T-Bred up to 2100+ 90°C
AMD Athlon XP T-Bred over 2100+ 85°C
AMD Athlon XP Barton 85°C
AMD Athlon 64 70°C
AMD Athlon 64 (Socket 939, 1.4 volts) 65°C
AMD Athlon 64 FX (sledgehammer) 70°C
AMD Athlon FX (San Diego + Toledo + Windsor) 63°C
AMD Athlon X2 (Manchester + Toledo) 65°C
AMD Athlon X2 (Windsor) 70°C-72°C (1.35v - 1.25v)
AMD Athlon X2 (Brisbane) 78°C (1.25v)
AMD Phenom  
AMD Phenom 70°C
AMD Phenom X3 70°C
AMD Phenom X4 (9100, 9750, 9850) 61°C
AMD Phenom X4 (9550, 9650) 70°C
AMD Sempron  
AMD Sempron (T-bred/Barton core) 90°C
AMD Sempron (Paris core) 70°C
AMD Sempron (Manila) 69°C - 78°C
AMD Sempron (Sparta) 65°C - 75°C
AMD Sempron (Sargus) 63°C
AMD Mobile Sempron 95°C
AMD Athlon II  
Athlon II X2 (Regor) 72C - 81C
Athlon II X3 (Rana) 71C - 75C
Athlon II X4 (Propus) 70C - 72C
AMD Phenom II  
Phenom II X2 (Callisto) 70C
Phenom II X3 (Heka) 72C
Phenom II X4 (Denab) 62C - 71C
Phenom II X6 (Thuban) 62C - 71C
Intel CPU's
Intel Pentium D  
Pentium D (Smithfield 805, 820) 63°C
Pentium D (Smithfield 830, 840) 69.8°C
Pentium D (Presler 915, 920, 930, 945, 960) 63.4°C
Pentium D (Presler 940, 950) 68.6°C
Intel Celeron Series  
Celeron D (Prescott) 67°C
Celeron D (Cedar Mill) 69.2°C
Mobile Celeron 100°C
Intel Core 2 Duo  
Intel core 2 Duo (Conroe E4300, E4400, E6300, E6400) 61.4°C
Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe E4500, E4600, E4700) 73.3°C
Intel Core 2 Duo (Conroe E6320, E6420, E6540, E6550, E6600, E6700, E6750, E6850) 60.1°C
Intel Core 2 Duo (Wolfdale) 72.4°C
Mobile Core 2 Duo 100°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme  
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Conroe) 60.4°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Kentsfield Q6700) 71°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Kentsfield Q6600) 62.2°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Kentsfield QX6700, QX6850) 64.5°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Kentsfield QX6800) 54.8°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Yorkfiled Q9300, Q9450, Q9550) 71.4°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Yorkfield QX9650) 64.5°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Yorkfield QX9770) 55.5°C
Intel Core 2 Extreme (Hypertown QX9775) 63°C
Intel Itanium 2  
Intel Itanium 2 below 1Ghz 66°C
Intel Itanium 2 1Ghz - 1.6Ghz 83°C
Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7  
Intel Core i3 (Clarkdale) 72.6°C
Intel Core i3 (Sandy-Bridge) 65C - 69C
Intel Core i5 (Clarkdale) 72.6°C
Intel Core i5 (Clarkdale) (Model 661) 69.8°C
Intel Core i5 (Lynfield) 72.7°C
Intel Core i5 (Lynfield) (Model 750s) 68.9°C
Intel Core i5 (Sandy-Bridge) 69C - 73C
Intel Core i7 (Lynfield) 69C - 73C
Intel Core i7 (Gulftown) 67.9°C
Intel Core i7 (Sandy-Bridge) 72.6°C
Intel Core i7 Extreme (Bloomfield) 67.9°C


Below is an old video from Toms hardware guide, but it still illustrates the importance of the heatsink and fan and shows just how quickly a CPU will fail it it doesn't have the correct cooling setup or if your fan should come loose. This of course is an old video and shows what happened to older CPU, modern CPU's use various techniques to stop this from happening from throttling the processor until it cools, or even switching the CPU off and crashing the system. However even with these steps your CPU can still be damaged unless cooled correctly.

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