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My case tends to heat to 59.6 C in the summer. Is this too hot? What's an optimal temperature for inside a typical case?

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That's just under 140 F for those of us who think that way. – Dennis Williamson Jul 17 '09 at 8:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

What do you mean by "case temperatures"?

More relevant, what are your

  • cpu temps
  • hard drive temps
  • mobo sensor temps

The ambient temp will obviously affect overall temps of the components inside (must suck to live in the tropics!), so it's a baseline -- the only thing the case can do is have good or bad airflow and amplify this effect.

One thing I like to do is run the case with the cover removed, and see how much better or worse the overall temperatures get. If the temperatures get a lot higher with the cover removed, then the case has bad airflow and that's something you definitely want to try to fix.

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+1 nice comprehensive answer, and addresses the computer as a holistic unit, rather than a single monolithic entity (approaching it as a system). Each component has its own potential "malfunction" and "failure points", so while 60 degrees centigrade might be fine for your CPU, it might be cooking your mobo chipset alive! – Avery Payne Jul 17 '09 at 5:53
I'm kind of confused. I would think that overall temperatures should rise with the case off. Reason being that the case is no longer closed and air doesn't have a channel in and out of the case. Closed, air should be able to travel in and out of the case through your case fans, supplying cool intake air and hot exhaust air. – jasonh Jul 17 '09 at 5:57
@jasonh "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. – Jeff Atwood Jul 17 '09 at 5:57
@jasonh: It depends on the type of case and how much is in it I'd imagine. My case is so large and open that if I take the side off it'll easily improve dissipation. My media-PC case however is specifically wind-tunnel-like and suffers if I take the side off. – jerryjvl Jul 17 '09 at 5:59
@Atwood: True, true – jasonh Jul 17 '09 at 6:32

Where do you get the 60C measured?

CPU or GPU at 60C would not be unheard of, but I would be a little concerned if the interior of the case as a whole is around the 60C mark... in which case you may need a few extra fans to get that air out of there.

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That's fine. The Core 2 and Core i7 lines of CPUs have a max safe temperature of 100C. If you're running at 60C while doing normal activities, you have nothing to worry about.

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Are you sure that it's 60 C? Your CPU shouldn't go above 50 C. My case runs at about 40-45 C ambient.

Most CPUs should run at 50 C or less during full load. If your case is too hot, then the air inside will be too hot to dissipate the heat. You must have cool air in the case to cool the CPU. You should look into adding more fans to your case or just taking off the side of the case. Heck, maybe put it next to your A/C vent (if you have central air).

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Depends on the CPU, cooler, and ambient temperature. Regardless, the Core2 and especially Core i7 lines run quite hot - 50C is not that unusual and nowhere near enough to cause them harm. – Dan Walker Jul 17 '09 at 5:50
My experience is mostly with AMD CPUs. I've never run an AMD at 60 C even at full load on a quad core. – Chris Thompson Jul 17 '09 at 5:55
Ha, my computer's CPU gets up to 86°C whilst running games. At low load (as it is right now) it's 65°C. – MJeffryes Jul 17 '09 at 15:55
Geez... you can put a pot of water on that heatsink and cook some Raman noodles while you play. – Chris Thompson Jul 17 '09 at 16:23

My case has a "temperature gauge" on it--I found that they have a thermocouple stuck into the CPU heatsink. Whatever. What I determined was, that there is a 20 degree rise in temperature. This is straight thermal science. Both are in Fahrenheit, and when the thermometer on the wall says 75, the case gadget says 95. And it's consistent. Over time, that number (20) gets larger. When it gets too high, it's time to clean the dust out of the heat sink. And that temperature rise number goes back down to 20.

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CPU manufacturers give guidance on the maximum inflow, case, chassis and CPU temperatures that the processor package was designed for. A search for 'thermal management' and thermal specification' with the processor or processor package description may lead to what you want.

For example:

Intel Pentium 4:

AMD Athlon 64:">AMD Athlon 64 Processor Power and Thermal Data Sheet (PDF, 1.1MB)

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