What is a Good Idle GPU Temperature?

Atif Liaqat | Last Updated On January 19th, 2022

For some gamers, optimizing their hardware to squeeze out as much performance as possible – whether it’s through overclocking or elaborate cooling systems – is a game in and of itself.

PC builders just love to overclock the hardware, set up liquid cooling systems, and build the most optimized high-efficiency gaming rig. It’s a fun activity that’s second only to gaming.

However, before getting started with overclocking and temperature management, there’s a couple of things to know beforehand. Gamers should be well aware of the temperature ranges of the CPU/GPU, whether it’s idling or running at full load.

So when it comes to GPUs, the question most gamers ask themselves is: what is a good idle GPU temperature? One that’s not too hot.

The answer to that: 104⁰-140⁰ degrees Fahrenheit (40⁰-60⁰ Celcius) is the most stable range for any idle GPU. Anything higher than that – when the GPU is idle – means you need to check the GPU for any overheating issues.

So in this article, we are going to talk about several related topics such as:

  • Why do GPUs heat up?
  • How do GPUs keep the heat down?
  • How can I measure the GPU temperature?
  • Do higher temperatures affect the lifespan of the GPU?
  • What are some common fixes to avoid overheating GPUs?

With that being said, get your case fans on because we are going to be breezing through some “knowledge.”

Why Do GPUs Heat Up?

PC Gaming GPU Graphic Card Close Up

Like many other parts inside a PC, the GPU consists of lots of transistors, billions to be more exact. These transistors help perform the complex calculations necessary for the graphics you see in your video games.

I won’t go down the transistor rabbit hole, but what happens is that heat gets generated because the transistors use electricity to function. Because of the nature of these devices, there’s a lot of electrical resistance that gets generated.

So whenever there’s a lot of electrical power flowing through these resistances, it tends to generate heat. The heat produced by a single transistor is insignificant. However, when you have billions of these transistors huddled together inside a GPU/CPU, with each one of them working overtime to process instructions, it can get a little toasty.

So this is why GPUs and CPUs tend to run at higher temperatures and why they require dedicated fans for cooling.

By the way, if you’re looking for some CPU coolers, click here.

How do GPUs keep the heat down?

All GPU/CPUs use the same basic concept to cool off.

First, they redirect the heat from the processor units to a Brass or Aluminum surface – designed to radiate as much heat as possible – called the “heatsink.” After that, the fans blow in cold air, which helps sweep the hot air away from the system, resulting in a cooler environment for the processor units.

This process keeps repeating again and again until the temperature drops to an acceptable level, which only happens when you stop gaming or switch off the PC.

When it comes to cooling GPUs, you have two options: use the existing setup, which is more than capable of managing itself during typical gaming scenarios, or install a water block and set up a liquid cooling system that is more efficient yet expensive.

If you are on the lookout for a good PC case that’s compatible with any AIO/custom liquid cooling setup, click here.

How can I measure the GPU temperature?

Everybody asks “what” is a good GPU temp, but nobody asks “how” to find the GPU temp, so in this section, I’m going to list out two of the most common methods by which you can check your GPU temperature.

Using the task manager: If you’re running an updated version of Windows 10 (after the 20H1 update) and you’ve updated the external GPU to WDDM 2.4 (Windows Display Driver Model) or higher, you can use the task manager to view your GPUs current temperature.

This method is reliable, but you would have to minimize whatever video game you’re playing and open up the task manager.

Using third-party applications: If you didn’t already know, MSI afterburner is a must-have for any would-be gamers. It’s an amazing tool for overclocking, and it consists of several other features, including an FPS counter that can also show several real-time details of your PC (anything the sensors can pick up) while you are playing. It’s completely free, and you can even overclock Non-MSI GPUs.

However, if you want to be a rebel, you can use several other tools, such as ASUS GPU Tweak 2, Speccy, NVIDIA’s control panel, and AMD’s control center.

Do higher temperatures affect the lifespan of the GPU?

Actually, yes! When the GPU is operating at higher temperatures it can affect the overall lifespan of the GPU. 

GPUs are hardware devices, and like all hardware devices, they will eventually fail. It might take several years (or decades,) but they will fail nonetheless.

When the GPU is running at temps higher than its rated values, it will start to overheat. When this happens, the GPU will either shut down; to protect itself, or you might see framerate issues because of thermal throttling.

Whatever the case may be, it’s best not to push the GPU into these extremes. Therefore, you’ll have to improve your temperature management system à la liquid cooling or get a better GPU capable of handling a higher workload à la RTX 3090.

What is a Good Idle GPU Temperature and What are some common fixes to avoid overheating GPUs?

Whenever you run into overheating issues with your GPU – overheating issues, such as the PC shutting down in the middle of a gaming session or unusually loud/weird fan noises – you can fix most of these issues by following the solutions provided below.

Updating Drivers: Sometimes, when the GPU is running on outdated drivers and newer video games, there can be some overheating issues.

It can also happen the other way around, where the newer drivers are causing the issue. If that is the case, roll back to the old drivers and hopefully wait for a patch.

Improve airflow: The PC case might not be properly ventilated, this can happen due to several reasons such as bad cable management, accumulating dust, higher ambient air temperature, broken case fans and not having enough space inside the case.

So if you face any of the issues shown above, it’s best to resolve these by cleaning out your PC and making sure that everything is getting enough airflow.

If you live in a more tropical area, then it’s best to invest in a liquid cooling setup for your PC, especially if you are into overclocking.

Ease Up On the Overclocking: Sometimes, your low-range GPU is not great at performing under pressure. So, if you have any issues with overclocking, it’s best to revert to the default settings, especially if you don’t have a sophisticated liquid cooling setup.

Replace the Thermal Paste: Replacing your GPUs thermal paste is not that straightforward, but it’s one of those things you will have to learn to do if your GPU is having trouble dissipating heat.

I recommend that you DIY (Do-It-Yourself) as it’s a fun activity that will get you more in touch with your hardware, but if you are not yet confident in your DIY skills, then there’s no shame in seeking help.

So with all things we’ve considered so far, we can conclude that A good idle GPU temperature ranges anywhere from 104⁰-140⁰ degrees Fahrenheit. (40⁰-60⁰ Celcius) If it goes any higher, you will have to diagnose the GPU and figure out what’s causing the GPU to overheat. 

Being vigilant and performing periodic maintenance on your GPU (cleaning it, reapplying thermal paste. etc.. ) will help you maintain the GPU and minimize its deterioration.

Conclusion

Proper temperature management is not an easy task. Keeping a PC in proper working condition and under safe temperatures requires constant monitoring and maintenance. Even if it’s air-cooled or liquid-cooled (liquid-cooled PCs demand even more attention) you’d still have to take good care of it, especially if you want to keep playing without any stutters or sudden shutdowns. Everybody wants to be a gamer, until it’s time to do the real “gamer” stuff, like cleaning out your PC, updating your drivers, and optimizing performance.

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