Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My computer gives the following temperatures:

  • CPU: 68°C
  • CPU Heatsink: 52°C

Can I read these numbers to interpret how efficiently heat is being conducted away from the CPU?

If so, is there a temperature spread I can consider "normal" vs. "check the thermal paste"?

share|improve this question
How did you measure your heatsink temperature? – George P. Burdell Oct 1 '11 at 7:58
@GeorgeP.Burdell Through software... I'm asking this as a general question to get a rough idea, not how to measure most accurately. – Andrew Vit Oct 1 '11 at 8:16
What he said ^. I have used an IR thermal probe to attempt to read the sides of the metal spreader on the cpu and the base of the heatsync, but even with more gear I could never know much. With a thermal probe on the heatsink it would be relative to how far away it was from the connect, with it inbetween the 2 , I just messed it up so bad I would never know :-) There is One thing though that identified my thermal conduction, and that was a Core Temp Offset. As i improved my base and conduction to the cores , the temperature offset between cores went down. – Psycogeek Oct 1 '11 at 8:19
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Thermodinamically speaking, I don't think the difference between the temperatures is a good parameter to measure the efficiency of the heatsink (and thermal paste) because temp exchange between cpu and heat sink is by conduction while heat sink x ambient is by convection. These are 2 different processes with different speeds and variables.

If you have a very big difference between both, this can only prove that your cooling is very efficient and that conduction between cpu and heat sink will be improved because it's driven by the temp difference of the surfaces in contact. If the diffence is too small, conduction will be low and your cooling is not sufficient. None of the cases mean your thermal paste is not good anymore.

The only thing that will say you need to check the thermal paste is when there is a reasonable (or big) difference (effective cooling) and the CPU temp still increase.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.