GPU Overheating – What should you do?

What is GPU?

Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a specialized processor designed to process graphics. Since the chip is designed and optimized specifically for such tasks, it is much more efficient than the CPU and handles most of the workload when it comes to gaming graphics. Its main job is to speed up graphics rendering on a PC screen.

GPU overheating and how to fix it - Image credit: GPU Mag

GPU overheating

The GPU is one of the most critical parts of a gaming PC. It is also costly. Its price often reaches half the cost of the entire PC. That’s why it’s so important to keep it cool.

GPU consumes a large amount of electricity during its operation and generates a lot of heat. It means that the GPU can heat up or even overheat at all; this is especially noticeable in games or resource-intensive programs. It is highly undesirable to allow this, as it can lead to a deterioration in the performance of the entire PC. Often, the appearance of artifacts on the screen, the PC freezing, or the complete failure of the video card. And given that it is one of the most expensive components, it will be a shame to lose it due to regular overheating. And it’s good if you have it new and under warranty, but if not?

Today I will tell you about all the reasons that can lead to GPU overheating and give specific instructions on what to do in this case.

Reasons that can cause GPU overheating

If your GPU suddenly overheats, you may see artifacts on the screen, such as banding with incorrect colors or missing or incorrect textures in a game. It’s also possible that your equipment will start to fall over. There are a few causes for a GPU to overheat, And most are relatively easy to fix.

1. Fan Failure

It is common for GPUs to draw hundreds of watts of peak power and have graphics processing units running at close to 1 GHz. At this speed level, a card requires active cooling with a fan. If the fan fails, the card can almost instantly overheat and cause the computer to crash.

2. Dislodged heatsink

If your computer has been bumped, pushed, or dropped, the heat sink for the video card may no longer be able to make firm contact with the surface of the GPU. When this happens, heat is no longer efficiently transferred to the heatsink, and the GPU can overheat. Overheating is particularly common with laptops, which often use complex cooling systems that connect the CPU to the GPU with a heat pipe.

3. Overload

GPUs are designed to render complicated 3-D graphics. In most cases, playing a game, the task for which a card is best suited, should not cause the card to overheat beyond its normal operating temperature range. However, you may experience problems with lengthy gaming sessions in hot environments, such as a room with no air conditioning or outside in direct sunlight. If you’re experiencing overheating issues only when playing in hot climates, your computer most likely isn’t experiencing a problem.

4. Dust

If your GPU has a dedicated vent to exhaust hot air out the back of the computer’s chassis, the duct is susceptible to clogging from dust, pet hair, cigarette smoke, and other contaminants. If you examine the card find that the fan is working and the heat sink is securely attached, check the dust exhaust valve. Dust can prevent the video card from removing heat efficiently, and if the vent is clogged, the dust needs to be removed.

How can you know if your GPU is overheating?

Symptoms of severe overheating can be many. The main ones are:

  • Slowdown – the PC freeze at the game time or works in resource-intensive applications. However, if a particular program slows down for you, it’s not a fact that the GPU is to blame since some of them are demanding on the rest of the hardware.
  • Artifacts appear on the screen – colored, horizontal, vertical stripes or dots. Usually, they are distributed throughout the monitor. But in some cases, they are only in a separate part of it. In most cases, the culprit of such a problem is the GPU. They can also appear due to the peculiarities of the game itself or incorrectly set settings.
  • External noise is heard from the system unit. It may indicate a malfunction in the cooling system, which leads to GPU overheating.
  • Others – While working at the PC, it freezes abruptly, a blue screen crashes, reboots, or turns off completely. It often happens when watching movies of high quality, playing games, or working in graphics programs.

How to check your GPU temperature?

Let’s assume that you have at least one of these signs. But how do you know that the GPU is heating up?

One way is to use a GPU benchmark tool that will show the current temperature of the GPU. The most popular are 3DMark, GPU-Z, and GFXBench. They fit both Nvidia and AMD Radeon.

You can also check GPU temperature using Windows Task Manager. Go and open Windows Task Manager > Performance tab. At the bottom of the list, you will find your GPU listed with its temperature between brackets.

If the temperature of your gaming PC is less than 60 degrees, it is in a safe zone. If it exceeds 90 degrees, there is a substantial chance of hardware failure.

How to handle/ prevent GPU overheating?

  • Cleaning from dust and dirt – First, turn off your PC by unplugging the power cord. Next, remove the side cover of the system unit. Take a brush a rag and carefully remove all the accumulated dust (of course, you can do this with a vacuum cleaner, but you need to do this very carefully).
  • Replace thermal paste – If the usual cleaning did not result, the thermal paste most likely dried up. It needs to be replaced. To do this, you need to remove the video card from the PC case; carefully remove the cooler attached to it by unscrewing all the screws. Under it, you will see a graphics chip with thermal paste applied to it (white or dark). Gently remove it with a soft cloth and apply a thin layer of fresh thermal paste, gently smearing it over the entire surface of the chip. Then attach the cooler back to the board.
  • Violation of air circulation inside the case – Make sure all coolers inside the case are working correctly. You should install the fans on the side and rear of the casing to provide optimal circulation. In some budget cases, there are no places for mounting fans. In this case, you should think about buying a more expensive solution. Over time, coolers begin to work poorly or even stop altogether. In this case, a replacement is required. 


Gaming PC casing design significantly affects GPU Temperature and causes overheating. Always choose the best aluminum PC casing. So I recommend a case with FANs blowing directly at the GPU reduces temperature by 10% to 50%. To get the best visual performance from your graphics card, you must monitor your GPU temperature.

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