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At what temperature do most motherboards/cpus power down to prevent damage?

And what determines this? Is it the bios, the motherboard, the cpu itself?

I have a cpu that stays on in the bios until about 105 C and then shuts down. I am not sure if this is correct? Maybe the sensors are wrong. I think 105 is a bit high. I guess 80-90 would be more reasonable for an auto shutdown.

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4 Answers

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Max CPU temp is entirely dependent on the model of CPU. The manufacturers make these values readily available on the spec sheets and white papers for each CPU. Most aftermarket motherboards have the ability to choose which temperature an overheat shutdown occurs at. Most vendor-supplied boards (from Dell, HP, whatever) have this feature locked at the recommended value for the CPU that ships with the computer.

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105°C is about right. AMD processors have a THERMTRIP# signal that is asserted when the temperature goes about that high (it can change a little based upon process variations). Intel also has something like this. THERMTRIP# tells the motherboard to shutdown immediately to avoid a damaging thermal event.

There are also lower thermal event thresholds which the BIOS or thermal control subsystem would use to control fan speed, etc.. The lower one is typically called THERM# and alerts while heating up and the higher one is ALERT# which is usually the last event the software handles. THERMTRIP# fires at an even higher temperature and is hardware only.

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105°C for an Intel CPU is too much. I think they begin throttling themselves when they cross 70°C, I doubt that an Intel CPU will really reach more than 90°C (shutting down before that or throttling to a near halt).

However, for graphics boards over 100°C is not totally unusual. Quite high, but it depends on the vendor. Also some motherboard chips (Intel North- or Southbridge) tend to run happily at 85°C.

There's a program called SpeedFan (free, just google for it) which gives pretty good temp readings.

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Personally I consider 70C to be the red line cross, especially for AMD CPUs, which are said to be more vulnerable to overheat.

One thing is certain: 105C is absolutely too much.

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70°C? I'd panic if my Core 2 Duo would have 50°C...but yes, 70°C is a totally reasonable threshold. +1 –  Bobby Apr 11 '10 at 21:04
    
@Bobby - 50C is fine and well within spec. Many C2Ds hit 50C under 100% load for extended periods of time, such as video encoding. –  MDMarra Apr 13 '10 at 14:26
    
@MarkM: I know. ;) But as I said, mine isn't going over 40°c even if I'm using a stress-test against both cores, so if it hits 50°C I'd had to think about what went wrong. ^^ –  Bobby Apr 13 '10 at 14:54
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