I've heard that heat issues can cause problems with PCs, but is this realistic? Is leaving the desktop in a cabinet area, or above-average-room-temp, a realistic potential cause of slowdowns?

(I'm completely aware that there are other contributing factors to computer 'slowness', just wondering if this is a realistic problem, or mostly mental).

  • I can confirm that, from my own experience, higher internal temperatures negatively affects performance. One time I replaced a completely dried-up thermal paste layer on CPU with a fresh one, and immediately after that there was an actual, numerical boost in FPS count in videogames without any other changes.
    – Dragomok
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 19:00

4 Answers 4


Most modern processors do reduce their clockspeed when they get warm to try and cool themselves. I think it all started off with laptops and having dynamic fans and powersaving etc, but as they all pretty much run off the same set of chips then they've all started doing it.

I used to have a fanless laptop that ran at 1.1ghz, unless it was warm and then it dropped down to about 300mhz until it cooled down!

  • 1
    I've seen buttons on laptops that lock them to a lower speed for less power/heat, but not heard that desktop processors dynamically change. Do you have any links/references about which processors do that? Interesting. Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 19:42
  • 3
    Actually, the processor speed is usually controlled by the operating system, with the exception of the chip stepping in and changing its speed or shutting down in emergency situations. Linux kernel docs which should answer most of your other questions are here: mjmwired.net/kernel/Documentation/cpu-freq/user-guide.txt
    – marcusw
    Commented Mar 22, 2010 at 15:59

It can cause 'slowness' as described in mat1t's answer, but it will definitely significantly reduce the MTBF of most parts if they are continually overheated.


I use a program called DTemp to monitor my laptop's and desktop's hard drives' temp, and I definitely see a slow down when the drive reach about 102F or greater. I am sure different drives have different thresholds. If I blast an external fan at my laptop and bring the temp back down to under 100F, I have a zippy machine again.

Edit: The DTemp homepage appears to be gone and no one seems to have the download available. If anyone knows where to get it, please post in the comments.


The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers recommends an operating temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68-77 Fahrenheit). The allowable range is 15 to 32 Celsius (59 to 90 Fahrenheit). 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) is commonly the maximum temperature that a vendor will guarantee performance and reliability for the warranty period. A higher operating temperature will reduce the lifetime of the equipment and probably void the warranty.

  • 2
    What is the source for those numbers (specifically relating to warranty)? I'm curious because I've seen a lot of CPUs (AMD and Intel) that run hotter than 40 Celsius under load.
    – Doug
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 19:57
  • I read it in a whitepaper recently. The CPU itself will definitely exceed this, but 40 Celsius refers to the temperature of the air.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 21:57
  • My processor reports 47 Celsius when idle and can get up to 80 or so when under load... (AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core QL-65)
    – marcusw
    Commented Mar 22, 2010 at 16:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .