CPU thermal throttling is a mechanism that reduces the speed and performance of your CPU when it reaches a certain temperature limit. It is designed to protect your CPU from overheating and damaging itself or other components of your computer. However, it can also affect the performance of your computer and cause issues such as lagging, stuttering, freezing, or crashing.
In this article, we will explain what is CPU thermal throttling, how it works, why it happens, how to check if your CPU is throttling, and how to prevent or reduce it. By reading this article, you will learn more about this common phenomenon and how to deal with it.
How Does CPU Thermal Throttling Work?
CPU thermal throttling works by lowering the clock speed and voltage of your CPU when it reaches a certain temperature threshold. The clock speed is the rate at which your CPU executes instructions, measured in gigahertz (GHz). The voltage is the amount of electric power that your CPU receives, measured in volts (V).
By lowering the clock speed and voltage, your CPU reduces its power consumption and heat generation. This helps your CPU cool down and stay within a safe operating range. However, this also reduces the performance and efficiency of your CPU, as it can process fewer instructions per second.
The temperature threshold that triggers CPU thermal throttling depends on the model and manufacturer of your CPU. Different CPUs have different maximum operating temperatures, which are usually specified in their specifications or datasheets. For example, the Intel Core i7-10700K has a maximum operating temperature of 100°C, while the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X has a maximum operating temperature of 95°C.
CPU thermal throttling can be controlled by the firmware or software of your computer. The firmware is the low-level code that runs on your motherboard and controls the basic functions of your hardware. The software is the high-level code that runs on your operating system and controls the advanced functions of your computer.
The firmware or software can monitor the temperature of your CPU using sensors or algorithms and adjust the clock speed and voltage accordingly. The firmware or software can also use other factors to determine the optimal clock speed and voltage for your CPU, such as the workload, power consumption, fan speed, ambient temperature, etc.
Why Does CPU Thermal Throttling Happen?
CPU thermal throttling happens because of two main reasons: high workload and poor cooling.
- High workload: When you run demanding tasks or applications on your computer, such as gaming, video editing, rendering, etc., you put a lot of stress on your CPU. Your CPU has to work harder and faster to process the instructions and data that are required by these tasks or applications. This increases the power consumption and heat generation of your CPU.
- Poor cooling: When your CPU generates heat, it needs to dissipate it to maintain a stable temperature. Your computer has a cooling system that consists of fans, heatsinks, pipes, vents, etc., that help transfer the heat from your CPU to the surrounding air. However, if your cooling system is inadequate or malfunctioning, it may not be able to remove the heat efficiently enough. This causes the heat to accumulate in your CPU and raise its temperature.
When these two factors combine, they can cause your CPU to reach its temperature limit and trigger thermal throttling. This can happen more frequently or severely if you have an old or low-end CPU that has a lower temperature threshold or a higher power consumption than newer or high-end CPUs.
How To Check If Your CPU Is Throttling?
To check if your CPU is throttling, you need to monitor its temperature, clock speed, and performance while running a stress test. A stress test is a tool that simulates a high workload on your CPU by making it execute complex calculations or operations continuously. A stress test can help you measure how well your CPU handles heavy load and heat.
There are many stress test tools that you can use to check if your CPU is throttling, such as Prime95, IntelBurnTest, Cinebench, etc. You can download and install any of these tools on your computer and run them for a certain period of time (usually 15 minutes to an hour) to see how your CPU performs under stress.
To monitor your CPU’s temperature, clock speed, and performance while running a stress test, you need to use another tool that can display these metrics in real-time. There are many monitoring tools that you can use to monitor your CPU’s metrics, such as HWMonitor, Core Temp, MSI Afterburner, etc. You can download and install any of these tools on your computer and run them alongside the stress test tool to see how your CPU’s metrics change under stress.
To check if your CPU is throttling, you need to compare the metrics before and after running the stress test. If your CPU is throttling, you will notice that:
- The temperature of your CPU will increase significantly and reach or exceed its maximum operating temperature.
- The clock speed of your CPU will decrease significantly and fluctuate frequently.
- The performance of your CPU will decrease significantly and cause issues such as lagging, stuttering, freezing, or crashing.
If your CPU is not throttling, you will notice that:
- The temperature of your CPU will increase moderately and stay below its maximum operating temperature.
- The clock speed of your CPU will remain stable and consistent.
- The performance of your CPU will remain stable and smooth.
How To Prevent Or Reduce CPU Thermal Throttling?
To prevent or reduce CPU thermal throttling, you need to address the two main causes of it: high workload and poor cooling. Here are some tips and tricks that can help you prevent or reduce CPU thermal throttling:
- Reduce the workload: You can reduce the workload on your CPU by closing any unnecessary apps or processes that are running in the background while gaming or performing other demanding tasks. You can also lower the settings or resolution of your games or applications to reduce the stress on your CPU. You can also use a software tool like ThrottleStop or QuickCPU to limit the maximum clock speed or power consumption of your CPU manually.
- Improve the cooling: You can improve the cooling of your CPU by cleaning your computer regularly and removing any dust or debris that may block the air vents or fans. You can also use a cooling pad or a stand to elevate your laptop and improve its airflow. You can also replace the thermal paste or pad that connects your CPU to the heatsink with a new one to improve the heat transfer. You can also upgrade your cooling system with better fans, heatsinks, pipes, etc., if possible.
The Bottom Line!
CPU thermal throttling is a common phenomenon that affects the performance of your computer. It happens when your CPU reaches its temperature limit and reduces its speed and power to prevent overheating. It can be caused by high workload, poor cooling, or both.
You can check if your CPU is throttling by monitoring its temperature, clock speed, and performance while running a stress test. You can prevent or reduce CPU thermal throttling by reducing the workload, improving the cooling, or both.
We hope this article has helped you understand what is CPU thermal throttling and how it affects performance. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading!