How to Fix “CPU Temperature Error” When Your Computer Gets Too Hot

It can be frustrating to restart your computer and see an error message instead of a pretty login screen. Worse, when this error message is one of these daunting ones:

Ah, the dreaded “CPU overheating error”. Don’t worry (too much). Sounds much worse than it actually is. Your computer is unlikely to catch fire, and you (probably) won’t fix a serious problem. At best, it’s an annoyance that can put you out of action for a short time, but chances are good that your system is okay.

Why Not Worry About CPU Temperature Error

This notification can appear for a variety of common reasons. For example, your computer’s cooling configuration may not be very good. Maybe your CPU cooler fan has accumulated a lot of dust and debris, or it just doesn’t spin very well (or doesn’t spin at all). Your suitcase may have a pile of crap that is preventing it from sucking in colder air or letting out hotter air. Maybe it’s summer now, and your room is stuffy-80 degrees, and your system as a whole is a little warmer.

I see this error from time to time when I restart my desktop after heavy gaming. My system won’t melt – I know this – but the ambient temperature inside my case is higher than normal, resulting in poor cooling performance, causing my motherboard to believe my system is booting at an alarming temperature.

It is right. It would be alarming if my CPU temperature sensor detects hot, hot heat, if I just started my computer after it had been idle for several hours (or overnight). But there is no context for temperatures on your system; it just tells you what it is reading and warns you when the number is out of range.

So, if this condition applies to you, you can safely press “F1” to “Run Setup”, which resets you to your motherboard’s BIOS. Close this to reboot your system, as you do regularly, and you should be able to boot into your operating system without any problem. If you still receive temperature notifications, turn off the system, wait a few minutes and let it copy again. Your computer should be able to boot normally (and normal use) without any warnings.

When to worry about CPU temperature error

If your desktop freezes or crashes randomly and you see this error message pop up even if you’ve spent the last hour doing something innocuous like browsing your favorite website or viewing photos, I would a little more concerned. If you’re not taxing your system – which you can check by opening Windows Task Manager to see if anything is consuming your CPU – then you may have a secondary problem that needs to be addressed.

I’ve already teased that troubleshooting I would do, but it’s worth repeating. Assuming your CPU or motherboard is okay, it’s possible that your CPU cooler just needs a good dust cleaning. Unplug your computer, press the power button to discharge any remaining voltage, and use a can of compressed air (or the more environmentally friendly electric air pump) to gently blow dust off the processor cooler.

Use a pen or other tool to keep the fan blades from spinning like crazy. You will make less clutter and spray less dust inside your system if you remove the cooler first, but if you are unsure of how to put it back on, or are afraid to do so, don’t do it. And don’t do this:

You can also clean the fan blades of the cooler with a cotton swab dipped in 99% alcohol, as I demonstrated here earlier . If you can, make sure you place a swab (or some air) between the fins of the radiator.

While you are in cleaning mode, check to see if the rest of the fans in your case are dusty. If not, clean them up too. And inspect the body of your desktop to make sure all air intakes are free of dust. If so, root it out.

If you still have problems, you may need to reapply more thermal grease to your processor. Chances are you don’t have them on hand, so you’ll have to pick them up. Once you’ve done that (and please don’t use Nutella ), here’s a great, quick guide to using it on your processor. Remember, small matters.

Otherwise, you can also try updating your motherboard’s BIOS (to make sure it reads the temperature correctly) or resetting it to factory defaults, just in case. Take a look at your processor while it is running to make sure the cooler fan is spinning at a reasonable speed – otherwise, you might need to replace it. You can also try reinstalling the processor in the socket, or reinstalling the entire cooler (and if it’s an aftermarket cooler, tighten it up a bit).


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