How to Tell If a Processor Is Overheating

Written by jason artman
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How to Tell If a Processor Is Overheating
An overheating processor may have a significantly reduced lifespan. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

An overheating processor can cause a computer to be slow, unstable and noisy -- but so can other computer problems, such as viruses. Because the symptoms of an overheating processor can mimic other types of computer problems, troubleshooting these symptoms can be frustrating and time-consuming. Windows provides several tools to help you determine whether a problem might be caused by an overheating processor or something else.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Check the Windows Event Viewer. Open the Control Panel, and click the "Administrative Tools" icon. If you do not see this icon, click the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner of the window and select "Small Icons." Double-click "Event Viewer," and in the window that appears, click "Windows Logs" and "System." Look for any event with the title "Kernel-Processor-Power" under the "Source" column, and click the event to read its details. If the event displays a message indicating that the speed of your processor is being limited by system firmware, the processor is overheating.

  2. 2

    Install temperature monitoring software. A modern computer has multiple temperature sensors placed around the machine, and one of these records the temperature of the processor. Your motherboard may include a disc with software designed specifically for its temperature sensors. You may also be able to read the temperature sensors by entering your motherboard's BIOS configuration software.

  3. 3

    Listen to your computer's fans. Many computers have speed-controlled fans that spin faster when the motherboard's sensors detect high temperatures. If your computer's fans always emit high noise levels, it is likely that there may be something wrong with your computer's cooling system that could result in processor overheating.

  4. 4

    Watch for error messages in Windows or when you first turn the computer on. Many motherboards have the ability to detect when the CPU fan is not spinning and will alert the user about the hardware fault. If your computer's motherboard detects that the CPU fan is malfunctioning, shut the computer down to prevent damage until you can check the fan.

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