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Why Is My Graphics Card So Hot? Potential Fixes And Troubleshooting…

Graphics cards have a very intensive job that can make them get pretty toasty. I know because I have gone through it many times myself. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce it and get it running normally.

Why is my graphics card so hot? When under load, it is common for graphics cards to get hot since they have a very intensive duty to manage everything related to graphics. If your graphics card is running below 80 degrees celsius while under heavy load, that is normal.

We will now talk about the many reasons why graphics cards can run hotter than they should and how you can reduce them.

Why Is My Graphics Card So Hot?

How Hot Is Too Hot For A Graphics Card?

Anything above 80 degrees is considered too hot for a graphics card, and anything above 90 is considered extremely hot and very bad for your GPU.

Below 80 degrees Celsius is a good goal for all graphics cards owners because anything more than that gets into thermal throttling and a very toasty GPU.

Thermal throttling is a fail-safe for your graphics card that prevents it from reaching excessively high temperatures that may cause your PC and graphics card issues.

The reason you want to stay below thermal throttling isn’t only for the safety of your graphics card. Thermal throttling will reduce the performance of your GPU significantly as part of the process of keeping it cool.

If thermal throttling doesn’t work, your PC will shut down because there has to be something seriously wrong, and to avoid a major disaster, it’s safer to shut down the computer.

Your Fans Aren’t Spinning Fast Enough.

By default, your graphics card may not be running the fans as fast as they can at 60 – 80 degrees Celsius. This can often lead to your GPU heating up to an unusually high point before doing what’s necessary to keep it cool.

Graphics cards’ cooling fans work on a system called a “fan curve.” Fan curves will scale the intensity of the fans as the temperatures get hotter.

Fortunately, you can quickly fix this issue in programs such as MSI Afterburner or EVGA Precision X1.

I use MSI Afterburner because it has all the features I need for FPS monitors, temperature monitoring, and other benchmarking.

Regardless, I’ll show you how to use both of these programs, so no matter what you choose, you can change your fan curve.

Using MSI Afterburner

This is the most popular program for benchmarking, overclocking, and changing your fan curve. To get MSI Afterburner, you can download it for free from their website.

Once you have downloaded it, run the installer program and be sure to install both the RIVA Statistics Tuner and MSI Afterburner.

After your installation has finished, open the program and click the settings cogwheel inside the MSI Afterburner program.

You will see a settings window open up, then click on the Fan tab. Under the Fan, tab tick the box saying enable user-defined software automatic fan control option.

The graph shown after enabling this feature is your fan curve. It will have 4 points preset by default, but you can create more by clicking on the desired spot online.

I’ve preset mine to be more aggressive in increasing the RPM at various temperatures.

Here are the exact temperatures and corresponding fan speeds I have chosen:

  • 40% Fan speed at 30 degrees Celsius
  • 60% Fan speed at 50 degrees Celsius
  • 70% Fan speed at 70 degrees Celsius
  • 90% Fan speed at 80 degrees Celsius
  • 100% Fan speed at 90+ degrees Celsius

This is somewhat aggressive since I scale to 70% fan speed at only 65 degrees Celsius, but it was necessary for me.

You can stick with the default speeds to start and then scale up at temperatures you frequent.

Remember to press apply, and then if you want this to apply at startup, you don’t have to open the app to apply these settings every time you click the Windows button on the dashboard screen.

Likely, if you’ve noticed your temperatures are relatively high, you already have set up the OSD, but if you haven’t, this is how you can monitor the exact temperatures of your GPU.

To set up the on-screen display, you should go to the monitoring tab and click a checkmark next to any statistic you want to measure.

Black outlined checkmarks are going to be the actively measured stats.

After that, click on each stat you want to measure and make sure the box is highlighted in blue, then check the tick box below that says show in On-Screen Display.

Do this for every statistic you plan to measure, which will just be GPU usage and temperature, and click apply.

Now when you enter a game, you should have the measurements in the top left of your screen.

If you notice your graphics card temperature surpasses 70 degrees Celsius, it’s probably a good idea to consider cooling it.

However, it isn’t until you get into the high 70s that this becomes major concern, and if you are going over 80 you are likely going to experience thermal throttling and should definitely increase your fan curve.

Once you know where your graphics card sits during gameplay under heavy load, you can increase the fan curve in that range.

For example, my graphics card was 75 – 79 degrees Celsius when playing Red Dead Redemption 2, so I increased the fan speed at the 60, 70, and 80-degree temperatures.

One final tip before we move on, the higher your fan speed, the louder your GPU fan will be.

I can start to hear my GPU at around 50% fan speed, and it becomes uncomfortably loud at 80% fan speed, so unless the conditions are wild such as going above 80 degrees Celsius, I will try to keep my fan speed below 80%.

Using EVGA Precision X1

Since we already covered many fundamentals in the section above, I will try to provide shorter summaries in this section.

First, download the EVGA Precision software from their website.

Next, run the installer and open the application when finished.

Once the application is open, click the arrow button in the bottom right twice, as seen in the picture above.

When you arrive at the fan curve control screen, check the tick box for Fan Curve Control, and once it is active, it will highlight in purple.

Then, you have two options to modify your fan curve. You can drag the boxes on the graph up or down. Or you can use a preset that adjusts the graph for you.

I used this application before MSI Afterburner, and I saw the best results using the Aggressive options found in the Select Preset dropdown.

I did go up one preset at a time in intensity to see how much fan speed I needed, eventually finding Aggressive was best for me.

After you have found the first preset you want to try or have changed the graph manually, click apply, and the changes will be made.

If you want the changes to be saved, click the setup settings wheel in the top right, click the start with OS option, and once active, click apply.

To enable the on-screen display, make sure the OSD option in the right sidebar is active or blue. If it isn’t, click the OSD option in the right sidebar until the light shows blue.

To control what you measure, click on the HWM tab on the top navigation. To ensure the measurements are being measured, ensure the HWM option in the right sidebar is active or blue. If it isn’t, click it to enable it.

Then, to remove any default measurements, you can click the X located above the top right corner of each graph.

If you don’t want to remove a measurement but want it to show up in the OSD, above the top left corner of each graph, you have three options.

To have a measurement active in the OSD, you should click on the OSD button until it is lit up. If the button is dark, it will not show up in the OSD.

To add new measurements, click on the color-coded and numbered buttons at the top of the HWM page, and select the measurement from the dropdown.

Cleaning Your GPU Fans And Case

When dust builds up, it can be a real problem because it constricts the fan’s ability to pull in air to cool the GPU.

This can lead to your GPU reaching higher temperatures. However, this is likely not the case for newer GPUs that haven’t been in use long.

Case fans being dusty can also cause numerous parts in your case to heat up because either not enough air is coming in or going out, sometimes both if you haven’t cleaned any of your fans in a while.

The solution here is a little cleaning, but you can’t just take a rag to these fans. You will have to use condensed air to blow the dust-out.

This is the safest way to clean these fans and also the best for getting all the dust-out.

You should unplug your graphics card, remove it from your PC, and use a can of condensed air to spray it all out.

You should do two things to make sure you don’t harm the fans or the GPU.

First, keep the GPU fans still while spraying them by air. You should either hold onto the GPU fans or put a toothpick in to stop the fans from spinning while using condensed air to blow out the dust.

If you don’t prevent the fans from spinning while doing this, you may break the fans on your GPU, which will certainly not be good for performance.

Second, keep the can right-side up will spraying the condensed air. If you turn the can upside down, it will spray liquid into your GPU, which will without a doubt cause more issues.

If you want to be extra safe, you could completely take apart the GPU, take out the fans, and clean them if your GPU allows it. However, the faster and less daunting way to clean is as described above.

If you are more of a visual learner, this YouTube video covers the topic quite well.

The most prominent dust collectors will be the case fans and the dust filters for cleaning your case.

The dust filters will vary from case to case, but you should find a way to remove them from your PC so you can wipe them down or vacuum them very far away from your PC.

I have the Fractal Define R6, so I can slide the bottom dust filter out very quickly, and removing the side filter is also relatively easy since I can pinch the clamps and pop it out of the side.

I will then either wipe it down using a paper towel or use a vacuum. As a good rule of thumb, you should never use a vacuum on anything inside your PC, but I can remove it and clean it separately in this case.

After you clean the filters, put them back into your PC and move them onto the case fans.

Case fans should be removed, then cleaned outside of the case if you want to make sure they are adequately cleaned.

Otherwise, you can use condensed air to blow out the fans while still in the case.

Some videos have used a vacuum, but that doesn’t sit right with me, so I would instead stick with the trusty can of condensed air.

Doing this can significantly increase the airflow and help more air come in and out of the case, therefore getting more cool air and hot air out, which should help reduce temps.

Replacing Your Old Thermal Paste

Sometimes when thermal paste ages, it loses its functionality to help transport the heat and keep your GPU cooler.

This will be a very technical fix that requires removing your GPU from your PC, removing the backplate, and unplugging small cables that connect the backplate.

Then, using an alcohol wipe to wipe down the thermal paste currently applied to your GPU.

After that, you replace the old thermal paste with the new thermal paste and put the GPU back together.

That’s the process that will need to happen to replace your thermal paste, but I recommend you watch this YouTube video below for the actual guide on doing this.

This can help lower your GPU temperatures, but how much it helps depends on the primary issue.

I would recommend you try the non-technical solutions before you start taking apart your GPU, as you can very quickly hurt your GPU while doing this.

Lowering Your Graphical Settings Or FPS

Your GPU will often overheat when a game is too demanding. As I’ve mentioned too many times before, Red Dead Redemption 2 was a very demanding game that made my heat scores go through the roof.

This isn’t that bad of news, though, since it’s relatively simple to fix. In RDR2, I lowered my temperatures by reducing my graphics and capping my FPS at 60 FPS since I wasn’t going that far beyond it anyways.

This put less stress on my GPU to render higher quality images, and I actually saw a benefit from it since I capped my FPS, so the relief on the GPU didn’t immediately get turned into more FPS.

Although this may not be a permanent solution and finding a better fix is recommended, it is an excellent way to reduce temperatures until you can find the best way to keep your GPU at low temps at all times.

If you lower your graphical settings but don’t cap your FPS, your GPU can still run very hot because it will try to render more frames per second instead of relaxing with the workload you have removed.

You May Have Bad Airflow In Your Case

At the very minimum, you should have two intake fans and one exhaust fan on your case so you can efficiently bring in cool air and remove hot air.

If you don’t, I would recommend installing the minimum requirements mentioned above into your case so you can keep the air moving.

If you didn’t mount any fans to your case, I would recommend considering getting a case with this fan layout and maybe even a bigger case.

Bigger cases provide more room for air to move around, and any obstructions to the airflow like a GPU or storage racks won’t be as impactful.

To get better airflow in my current mid-ATX PC tower, I removed the extra storage drive racks I wasn’t using and added more fans to the case.

I removed about five unused storage racks because I hadn’t planned on using them, and it gave my intake fans a clearer path to push air onto my GPU and other components.

The case fans were to push air up from the bottom of the case where there was trapped hot air that wasn’t getting pushed out of the case.

I could feel the hot air collecting here by just touching the outside of my case after one hour of playing a game.

So I bought two more fractal case fans and installed them at the bottom, which fixed the problem.

This also helped reduce my graphics card temperatures by a couple of points. I was quite pleased with such a cheap and straightforward solution.

Other obstructions to airflow can be messy un-managed tangles of cords. Try to use as much cable management as possible to keep cords from bunching up and obstructing the airflow.

Your Environment May Be Too Hot

The space around your PC can play much more of a factor than many people may think. During the Summer, many gamers can experience high temps since their homes are warmer.

Vise versa, during the Winter, some gamers can experience lower temperatures if their rooms are cooler.

Although you can’t do anything about the year’s season, you can raise or lower your room temperature by lowering the AC or using fans’ help.

Ceiling fans or standalone fans can help especially if you point them in the direction of your case. Some people even open up their case completely so the fans can blow directly into the case.

Undervolting Your Graphics Card

This will likely be the final act anyone will do after they have tried everything else that hasn’t moved their temperatures enough.

Undervolting is the process of supplying less voltage to a component and lowering its performance to achieve cooler temperatures.

This is very common for gaming laptop users since very powerful components sometimes get put in laptops with lackluster cooling.

Undervolting will reduce your temperatures by a fair amount depending on how far you take it since you will be deciding this yourself in a program with undervolting features such as MSI Afterburner.

I’ve seen this help people’s temperatures make significant differences that keep them from going way over 80 degrees Celsius.

Since I haven’t done this, I will direct you towards a fantastic video that shows you how to do it with an AMD and NVIDIA graphics card.

Wrap Up

Hopefully, you were able to get your GPU temperatures lower after reading this list.

As long as you can get your modern graphics card running between 70 – 80 degrees Celsius under load, that is considered pretty good for intense gaming.

Of course, if you can get it to go any lower, it doesn’t hurt to have a graphics card that runs below 70 degrees Celsius while under heavy load.

I would suggest that you start with some of the less technical ones and work your way up to the more severe fixes because some of the more technical ones can take longer and have more serious repercussions if done wrong.

But we have included several guides for all of these methods, which you can follow carefully to which many people have seen success.


I've been a PC gamer and builder for around 3 years now but my love for gaming spans many years all the way back to the Nintendo 64! Getting into PC gaming there was a lot of information that was hard to understand so I made it my mission to make PC gaming easy!

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