Addressing hot issue of PC temperatures

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am

How hot can I let my computer become? I have a notebook and sometimes I really do think I could fry an egg on it. Is there a temperature at which it becomes dangerous for the machine? Is there a way to know what the temperature is? How concerned should I be about this? I have heard friends use the term overclocking. What is that?

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It has long been something of a problem to keep the temperature of computers - desktops and notebooks - as low as possible. The faster the chips run, the hotter they become and we all know that there is no limit to the speed we want them to achieve: the faster, the better.

There are a lot of issues here, and there are a few things you can do to monitor your machine.

For the PC there is a free application called Motherboard Monitor, which can be downloaded from several sites. It will give a reading of the temperature, the RPM of the fan and other bits and pieces of data collected at the BIOS level.

It will let you set alarms when things get to a certain temperature, or will even send an e-mail to another computer. Some programs can be stopped (or started) with this. That may sound great - and it is a lot of fun for those who know what they are doing - but in practice it may not be worth much if you have no idea about what the temperatures mean.

That can depend on what you have. The MBM site has a long list of CPUs and vendor information on them. Although it may be fun to know what the temperature of your machine is, there is little you can do to cool it down (especially a notebook) except turn it off. You can do a little more with a desktop, but that is usually the domain of those who enjoy treating their machines as a hobby. If all you want to do is work (or play), you may not want to spend much time on this.

For the serious hobbyist, things are a bit different. For one thing, overclocking is something of a game. You can boost the speed of your chip by 'jacking up' the clock speed. There are all kinds of ways to do this and limits you need to know about. Also, cooling becomes a major issue. Some people even water-cool their machines. I do not recommend doing this unless you really know what you are doing. On the other hand, if you enjoy the game and have the money, it can be a lot of fun.

Mac users can get a widget to tell them the temperature of a couple of things in their machine. The temperature will appear in Fahrenheit or Celsius. There are two sensors inside a Mac and you can tell each one what you want to measure.

Motherboard Monitor,...


Mac temperature widget