If I use a processor at 100% constantly for several hours, can that damage the machine?

  • I have an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 CPU on an HP desktop (2009), and I need to use it at 100% for 12 hours
    – bzak
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:14
  • 3
    I'd say you'll be completely safe in that case. It's a relatively new computer.
    – AndrejaKo
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:23
  • 1
    Yeah i agree, you are safe
    – subanki
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:25
  • For context, I've got a 12-core Xeon processor that's been pegged at 100% on all cores for the best part of 2 months running a fluid dynamics simulation. Beyond tweaking some process priorities to ensure it's not interfering with other tasks on the machine, it has very little impact and just uses all excess resources.
    – Basic
    Mar 29, 2019 at 10:49

5 Answers 5


If you have adequate cooling, then no. In general, your computer should be able to sustain 100% load for long time. (I've run my laptop for days under 100% load for CPUs and GPU and didn't have any problems).

Also, if your computer is relatively new (say less than 5 years old) it will shut down automatically in case it overheats.

My recommendation is to get some sort of hardware monitoring program like HWMonitor for example and run it while running your task. If the temperatures rise to dangerous levels (I can't tell you what is dangerous for you, since you provided almost no information), you'll be able to see and stop the demanding program.

Also the temperatures will rise quickly, so if they aren't dangerous after 20 or so minutes, then they probably won't reach dangerous levels.

Another thing to watch out for are low voltages. HWMonitor will provide voltage readings. They should be within ±5% of stated voltage for positive voltages and within ±10% for negative voltages. If you do overload your PSU, it should also automatically shutdown, but on cheaper units restarts and Bluse Screens of Death are possible too.

  • 1
    +1 - Your limiting factor is very likely going to be the cooling system you have in place, and the environmental temps too. It will be a lot safer in a room that is 60 degrees F than 80 degrees F.
    – JNK
    Sep 7, 2010 at 14:58

Short Answer: NO

Long Answer: Depends on several factors such as

  1. What do you mean by "several hours" (24, 48, 2000 hours?).
  2. The type of processor you are using.
  3. Is your machine's CPU properly ventilated/cooled?

Just make sure the computer is properly ventilated... if such computer is "newish" (newer than say, 2006), the worst it will happen is that the motherboard will automatically turn off the computer if the CPU gets dangerously warm.

  • 1
    Actually, the CPU itself will measure the temperature and send the signal to shut down...
    – MaoPU
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:39

A short answer will be: Yes, running at 100% will definitely damage your machine, but you will not live to see it - because it can take several years...

A CPU usage of 100% will not kill your processor instantly - if it has proper cooling. Before there were overheat preventions built into the CPU, there were several videos on the net, that showed CPU buring a few seconds after booting the machine. But these days are gone, your Core 2 will shut down, if the temperature reaches a certain level.

Other than that - the higher the temperature the shorter the life span of the product. So running your CPU on a 100% level will lead to a higher temperature in the CPU. Even the best cooling devices can not prevent the inner core from a rising temperature.

But since the manufacturers measured several parameters from your individual CPU, they were able to estimate, what temperature your individual CPU can withstand. Depending on this, your CPU was labeled and packaged.

All in all we are maybe talking about a few weeks to months difference in an estimated minimum life of a decade or more...

So I would not worry to much about this and try to get the most out of you CPU :-)

  • 4
    I plan on living more than several years, so I should hope I would see it!
    – Phoshi
    Sep 8, 2010 at 8:46
  • 1
    I am sorry, if I used a wrong phrase. What I meant was, that usually CPUs get replaced before they break. Therefore you will not see it...
    – MaoPU
    Sep 8, 2010 at 9:18

it all depends on how good the cooling is, you should be able to encode a realy very long 4k video or some realy long 3d rendering if the cooling keeps the cpu under maximum cpu temperature (around 70c on both amd and intel chips) i think most agree that ~50c or something around there is a good maximum temp with a good cooler on 100% usage

forget about laptops, they are NOT made to work at 100% all the time EVER, regardless

and the computers usually shutdown if it goes over 70c, to not damage the cpu


if I use the processor to 100% constantly for several hours, Does that will damage the machine?

  • When you run at 100% CPU usage your processor gets heated up very fast, if for some reason your CPU's fan is damaged or not adequate for cooling the processor then the CPU may overheat, causing damage to your CPU.

  • Heat is the killer if u are able to keep your computer cool, you might able to keep it running for long hours

  • They're tons of 3rd party software that can measure your CPU temp as SiSandra or HLtemp, etc.

I don't think it will cause any damage (if well ventilated) if you use for 12 hours. I personally use my other computer (i5 750, 8mb cache, 2.66 Ghz, Ram 1 GB) for more than 16 hours at 100% usage .

Note (This statement Taken from another forum): A few hours (or even a day or two) of 100% usage is not damaging, according to technical support representatives from two major processor manufacturers (Intel and AMD). It is only when you have used the processor constantly for several days that damage could occur.

  • 2
    Any source for several days statement? I'd really like to see some document by Intel or AMD which addresses the processor wear and tear issues during normal operation.
    – AndrejaKo
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:01
  • 1
    Not really i took it from another forum ? Let me go to intel-site and search
    – subanki
    Sep 7, 2010 at 15:08
  • ". It is only when you have used the processor constantly for several days that damage could occur." I challenge that. I've had CPUs at 100% for months with no ill effects. That's literally what they're designed for. What does the % refer to here? Percentage of max load as defined by the CPU for current conditions. The CPU/motherboard are perfectly capable of throttling a chip's max performance if required for protect it from damage
    – Basic
    Mar 29, 2019 at 10:52

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