I had the same question when I first felt my computer after playing it shortly after I had built my first PC. Don’t worry; I have a detailed answer to your question from my experience and research.
Graphics cards are supposed to get hot, and it is a natural occurrence as a result of doing graphics-intensive tasks such as gaming. But, there is a limit to how hot you want your GPU to be.
Now let’s explore this question further and look at when you should start trying to cool down your graphics card more.
Are Graphics Cards Supposed To Get Hot?
Graphics cards are supposed to get hot because they use a lot of power to process intensive graphics-related tasks.
Speaking from how it feels, many graphics cards don’t turn the fans on until it reaches 40C, which is equivalent to 104F. It isn’t uncommon for this to feel quite warm from the outside.
During gaming, many people reach 70C on their graphics card, roughly 158F, so you are likely to feel that to the touch.
The heat generated is transferred heat energy from the electricity and is completely natural and expected of graphics cards.
Once the heat energy is transferred, the heatsink should pull the heat away, and then the fans should also assist in moving the heat away.
This is a constant process that happens for the duration of any intensive graphics-related activity and is also the cause of your GPU fans sounding quite loud when playing a game or editing a video.
You should make sure that you avoid your GPU overheating because you can start to see some performance issues and malfunctions.
Typically, GPUs can run until above 80C before they begin to do something called thermal throttling.
This is the process of limiting the power of your GPU at high temperatures to immediately lower the temperature of the GPU to avoid damage to the component.
You would feel this if it were happening because the game would get very choppy, the fans would be very loud, and your FPS would be tanking.
Also, your application would likely shut down at some point too.
Then, usually, there should be a hard-stop such as a shut-down as a second fail-safe once surpassing the thermal throttling threshold.
These are both in place to prevent actual damage to your GPU, so although it sounds scary, find a peace that if something was truly wrong, you would know.
Still, even if you don’t reach thermal throttling, it’s good to keep your temperatures lower because it can help with your GPU’s lifespan.
How To Measure GPU Temp?
If you want to play it safe, it’s always a good idea to monitor your GPU temps after installing a new one or after building a PC for the first time.
This can help you establish any need for better cooling or even discover the average temp you should expect.
I like to use MSI Afterburner for this, although you can also use EVGA Precision.
I’ve used both, and they are both excellent. However, I feel like I get some more MSI Afterburner features, so I prefer to use them.
You can download MSI Afterburner by clicking this link, and it will send you to the official website’s download page.
Once you have it downloaded, run the installation wizard, and I usually install everything it recommends because eventually, I have to anyways for FPS measuring, overclocking, etc.
After that is done installing, open the application and click on the setting cogwheel.
Then go to the monitoring tab and click the checkmark next to the measurement you want to see to activate it.
If it already has a black checkmark next to it, then it is already being measured. If it’s blank, then it is not being measured.
Look below the measurement options now and look at the checkboxes below for GPU temperature measuring.
Click the “show in on-screen display” option to activate the ability to see it in the top-left corner of your screen while you are playing a game.
Repeat this for anything else you would like to see.
Now when you log into a game, you can get a real measurement of your temperature to see if you are overheating or right in the range of expectations.
Most GPUs will run between 60C – 80C when under load. I personally usually sit at around a 73C in many games with my 2070 Super running an ultrawide 1440p resolution.
The lower you can have this temperature, the better.
Ideally, you’ll want to be around 70C, and as you get closer to 80C, I would recommend looking for cooling solutions.
How To Lower GPU Temp?
To lower your GPU temperature, you can do a few things.
First, you can use MSI Afterburner to adjust the fan curve. The fan curve is the automatic adjustment of the fan speed based on the temperature.
The higher the fan speed is, the more it will cool your GPU and lower the temperatures.
Typically, your graphics card runs on a pretty moderate fan curve, so there should be plenty of room to increase this if you are experiencing temperatures over 75C.
To adjust this, go to MSI Afterburner and click on the setting cogwheel. Now, click on the fan tab and click the “Enable user-defined software automatic fan control” option.
Now, use the graph to adjust your fan curve. Move the points up to increase fan speed with the correlating temperature seen at the graph’s bottom.
The fan speed should always increase with the temperature to cool your graphics card.
You can click on the line on the graph to add another point of fan speed line speed adjustment at whatever temperature you want to customize.
Here’s a picture of my graph. I made it more aggressive, but I was experiencing higher temperatures, so it was necessary.
My fan curve MSI Afterburner.
Next, you should try to have good airflow in your case.
I would recommend having at least one exhaust and two intake fans on your PC as case fans.
It’s also good to keep your cable management good, at least in the front end of the case.
This is all to make sure the airflow is good because if not enough air is reaching the GPU, that can also cause higher temperatures.
The heat needs to escape and leave the case because more heat is constantly being generated and transferred.
If it gets blocked up due to bad airflow, this will trap the hot air and cause overheating issues, which you want to avoid.
Some people also run mATX cases, which are nice and compact, but a regular ATX case may provide better airflow to keep things cooler.
So the actionable here are: manage your cables and make sure you have plenty of case fans to keep the air flowing.
Finally, one other popular solution is replacing the thermal paste on your GPU if you have an older graphics card.
I haven’t personally done this, but I’ve seen it work for many people with heating issues with an older card.
This is a lot more technical and will require taking apart your GPU, so here’s a great guide to get you some more information on the process.
If you want to read more solutions and reasons why your graphics card gets so hot, you can check out our why is my graphics card so hot article.
Graphics cards are supposed to get hot because that is just a by-product of all the hard work and all the electricity needed to complete their tasks.
Ensure that it isn’t getting too hot though, you should really keep the temperatures below 75 to be extra safe.
Although, anything above 80 is considered overheating, and you will likely begin getting throttled.
The fan curve worked great for me. I was playing RDR2 and noticed the temps were pretty high, but after upping the curve, I achieved a number much closer to 70 on my 2070 Super.