How to check your PC’s CPU temperature

Is your computer’s CPU too hot? If your PC starts spontaneously shutting down, locking up, or acting sluggish during intense tasks, overheating could be the issue. Keeping tabs on your CPU temperatures is crucial when you’re overclocking your PC’s processor, too—you don’t want to accidentally push the performance pedal too far to the metal.

Bizarrely, Windows doesn’t offer any way to check your computer’s CPU temperature. You could dive into your system’s BIOS to find the information, but that’s a lot of hassle to find a simple sensor reading. Fortunately, several free programs exist that make it easy to see your processor’s temperature.

Editor’s note: This article was revised to include up-to-date CPU cooler upgrade recommendations.

How to check your CPU temperature

The fastest, easiest way to check your CPU temperature is the aptly named Core Temp. Be mindful during installation though! Like many free programs, it tries to install bloatware unless you uncheck some boxes during setup.

Once you’ve installed Core Temp, opening it shows a no-frills look at the current state of your processor, including an average temperature reading at the bottom of the window. If you want even more detail, click the Show hidden icons button in the system tray located at the right edge of your Windows taskbar. You’ll see a temperature listing for every individual CPU core in your computer.

core tempBrad Chacos/IDG

Per-core CPU temperature readings provided by the Core Temp app.

Core Temp’s Settings menu allows you to tweak exactly what you’ll see in the system tray, and how you’ll see it, but the default configuration makes it dead-simple to see if your CPU is overheating or performing as expected.

Core Temp isn’t the only option though. HWInfo is an in-depth system monitoring tool that provides deep details about every piece of your PC’s hardware. If you choose to run it in sensors-only mode, scrolling down to the CPU section—the dedicated section, not the CPU temperature portion of the motherboard listing—reveals current temps and other nitty-gritty details.

nzxt cam Brad Chacos/IDG

NZXT’s Cam monitoring software.

NZXT’s Cam software is another popular option with a diverse skillset. Its slick interface is easier to read at a glance than those on most other monitoring tools, and the program shows all sorts of useful info about your CPU, graphics card, memory, and storage. Cam also includes an in-game FPS overlay and overclocking tools, among other features. You can use NZXT’s Cam mobile apps to keep tabs on your software when you’re away from your PC, too.