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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.
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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