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I am going away for the weekend, and am concerned about letting my graphics cards run at full-tilt while I'm away.

They are water-cooled, and sit at ~68 on full load. When they overheat, my screen will typically turn black - but the computer doesn't turn off. My computer also does not stay off with power outage (something I wish I could change, but the setting doesn't exist in my BIOS).

While I'm away this weekend, and I have my graphics cards running at 99% - if one of my radiator fans cuts out and the temps go over 85 - will they overheat and self-destruct?

Running windows 7 x64 with two 6950s

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Just curious, why are they being left to run maxed out all alone for a few days? – sealz Sep 23 '11 at 11:56
I am running a Bitcoin miner – Alex Waters Sep 23 '11 at 12:07
Don't worry -- that satellite's going to hit you before you even leave. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 23 '11 at 12:11
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your graphics card GPU has the same safeguards a CPU has, namely that when the temperature breaches a certain threshold, the card will either lower the clock speeds or will cut out entirely.

There is always a possibility that this will crash (and restart your PC), and there is always a possibility that there will be lasting hardware damage (though unlikely).

However, I can't exactly advise that you leave a machine unattended for such a long period of time. Your local fire brigade will likely recommend that you unplug most of your appliances if leave home for any period of time, so they might consider leaving your PC running with the GPU running at full tilt a little bit imprudent!

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CJM, computers are routinely left turned on for months at a time without problem or hazard. A weekend is nothing. – CarlF Sep 23 '11 at 13:45
I have family that lives nearby, and monitoring/alerts in place. If a fire breaks out, I would know about it and contact the fire dept within a few moments. – Alex Waters Sep 23 '11 at 16:51
@CarlF - Although I completely agree the risk is absolutely minimal, if you spoke to your local Fire Safety Officer (which most Fire Brigades have), they would advise you not to do it. The reality is the the most likely disaster would be a bust GFX card and nothing more. However, don't forget, most environments where computers are running under such stress for such time are also cooled, fully monitored, and covered by a halogen extinguishing system. – CJM Oct 5 '11 at 7:44
@CJM, actually most home PCs seem to never be turned off, and I have seen plenty of ink (really phosphor) in publications like Info World about how business desktops never get shut down. And yet we hear of no fires. I have personally had a motherboard burst into flames (it was so dusty the dust shorted between conductors) but the fire didn't escape the case. – CarlF Oct 5 '11 at 12:26
Carl, my work PCs never get turned of either. But they are never running with the GPU running at full tilt either. Don't get me wrong, the risk is theoretical, but it's enough not to endorse the idea. – CJM Oct 5 '11 at 14:49

Your GPU will auto shutdown at a certain temperature, or under clock the GPU. There can be damage done but its unlikely what I recommend is installing speedfan, and installing a remote desktop server on your pc that way you can just be anywhere, rdp into the comp and check the temperature.

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Underclocking the GPU will not be beneficial to bitcoin mining. :) – Hennes Aug 29 '13 at 21:35
Really? (sarcasm) I know that, but if you need too I would do that. – user2352276 Aug 30 '13 at 18:11

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