A Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the brain of your computer, and it will overheat if not adequately cooled.
The entire computer enclosure needs to operate as a cohesive unit to keep it cool and if a part of it fails, it could cause overheating.
If your CPU overheats, your PC will randomly slow down, shut down, or worse.
Although there are a variety of reasons your CPU is overheating, in most cases, it is due to an airflow or ventilation issue.
Never ignore an overheating CPU as it will cause more issues as time goes on.
Why Is My CPU At 100 Degrees? (Causes, Fixes)
1. Better Airflow
Whether you are using a desktop or a laptop, you need good airflow to keep the CPU and other internal components operating at a safe temperature.
Desktops draw cool air in through the front of the computer case and exhaust hot air out of the back.
If something is restricting this airflow, then you are bound to end up with overheating issues.
The first thing you need to do is open up the PC and make sure that all of the fans are operating normally.
If you don’t see a fan spinning when the computer is powered on, make sure nothing is stuck or in its way.
If it is free and clear, you may need to replace the fan to see if that resolves the heat issue.
If your computer has additional space to add fans, you can add more fans to help improve the airflow.
Laptops use their fans to draw cool air in through the bottom of the device and cool down the internal components.
Make sure you keep your laptop on a hard, flat surface.
Otherwise, you may be preventing your laptop from drawing that cool air into the system.
One method people often choose to help cool their laptops is to buy a cooling pad.
You place your laptop on top of the cooling pad and the cooling pad blows cool air directly into the bottom grille of your laptop.
While you have your computer open, take a look at the internal components.
Dirty internal components can cause overheating issues.
2. Clean Your PC
By drawing cool air in through the front or bottom of the device, you are inevitably going to draw dirt and dust into your system.
This dirt and dust will collect and build up over time.
A little build-up is not going to cause heating issues, but if left unchecked or if the computer is in a dirty area, it could cause performance issues.
Once the build-up reaches a certain point, it will start to slow the fan’s rotational speed and impede airflow.
Get yourself a can of compressed air and start cleaning the internal components of your computer.
Make sure to clean the intake fans, exhaust fans, CPU cooler, motherboard, and any other internal components you may have in your computer.
If you are using a laptop and can’t take off the bottom plate, then blow the compressed air through the bottom grille of your laptop.
Try to aim it towards the exhaust port of your laptop.
Some laptops don’t use internal fans to cool themselves, so you may not have any openings to blow compressed air into.
If you are using a desktop, take a look at the cabling while you have your case open.
3. Cable Management
Your Power Supply Unit (PSU) uses different cables to deliver power to all the internal components of your computer.
That’s a lot of cables running throughout the system, and it creates a point of failure.
Cables should be kept neat and tied down whenever possible.
Some desktop cases offer cable management within the case.
This keeps unneeded cables out of the way in a compartment behind the motherboard or under clips.
Too many cables can restrict airflow within the case.
Loose cables that are left to move freely within the case can get lodged in other components.
If one of the PSU cables slipped out of place, it may have fallen into one of the case fans or the CPU cooler.
This will stop the fan’s ability to spin and reduce its ability to cool down the system.
Make sure none of the cables are near a fan in your system and ensure all unneeded cables are tied down or safely tucked away.
A common way to secure PSU cables is to zip-tie them together and out of the way.
Just make sure you cut off the excess portion of the zip-tie, so it doesn’t accidentally block a fan.
A modular power supply is an excellent solution for this as you can physically remove any unwanted cables, reducing the number of cables in your system.
4. Better Case Fans
If you are constantly pushing your computer to its limits, you could be pushing your cooling fans past their cooling capabilities.
There are a wide variety of case fans, and they are each designed to push a certain amount of air.
You may have to upgrade your case fans to ones that can push a higher amount of air out of the system.
These case fans come in a variety of sizes, so make sure you get the size that fits your computer case.
Also, be sure to check what the intended use is for the fan.
Some fans were designed to be quiet, and to achieve that, they spin slower, possibly exhausting even less air than the ones you currently have.
You can’t upgrade laptop fans, so you are limited to adding a laptop cooling pad to increase the airflow.
5. Location Of The Computer
The location of your computer and the surrounding area can also cause your computer to overheat.
If your computer is surrounded by clutter, you could be preventing the computer from drawing that cool air in through the front of the case.
Make sure your desktop PC is always in a clutter-free area or at the very least, has nothing directly in front of it.
If using a laptop, make sure it is on a hard surface and not sitting on a blanket, a carpet, or clothing.
You should also check to make sure the intake fans are not near a heating source.
If they are near a heating source, you will be drawing hot air in through the front of the case, reducing the effectiveness of the airflow.
6. Better CPU Cooler
Stock CPU coolers are not always the most efficient cooling systems.
All too often, stock cooling fans were designed to keep the CPU cool for light tasks, but they struggle when doing anything like video editing or gaming.
If you are pushing your computer, you may also be pushing the CPU cooler past what it is capable of.
Third-party coolers often provide significantly better cooling power and are much better equipped to handle the increased heat generated by certain tasks.
Depending on your case, there are a variety of CPU coolers to choose from.
There are low-profile fans, large CPU coolers capable of moving a large amount of air, and liquid cooling enclosures that use water to cool the system.
Always check the reviews and purchase a brand name cooler.
This is one area that you don’t want to cut corners with, especially if you plan on pushing your system.
7. Reapply Thermal Paste
Thermal paste is an important component in keeping your CPU cool.
This paste sits in between your CPU and CPU cooler (often referred to as a heat sink).
The thermal paste is a sticky substance and is responsible for transferring heat from the CPU to the heat sink.
This allows the heat sink to draw the heat away from the CPU.
Thermal paste does tend to break down over time and will usually last for about five years before it needs to be reapplied.
As the paste breaks down, it begins to harden and loses its ability to transfer heat away from the CPU.
If you built your computer, you may have used too much thermal paste, which can cause it to act as an insulator.
This will make the paste ineffective and cause overheating.
Prebuilt computers tend to come with cheaply made thermal paste, lowering its effectiveness and long-term durability.
You also want to make sure that you use a good quality paste when installing a new CPU cooler or replacing the thermal paste.
8. Aggressive Overclocking
Overclocking is when you intentionally push your CPU past its rated speed to extract more power or performance from it.
By increasing the clock speed, you are getting more performance than it was originally rated for.
In addition to raising clock speeds, you will need to raise the operating voltage as well.
As you raise the clock speed and voltage, you are making the CPU work harder, thus creating more heat from the CPU.
Stock CPU cooling systems were not designed to withstand this increased heat load, which will cause your CPU to overheat.
If you are too aggressive with the overclock, your CPU is going to reach its thermal limit quickly regardless of the cooler you are using.
There is a delicate balance between increased performance and overheating your CPU, so always use extreme caution when overclocking.
9. Using Software With High Requirements
The software that you run on your computer can have a dramatic impact on why your CPU may be overheating.
Software like your web browser or an office suite is not going to tax your CPU very much.
If you are trying to run software that edits video or you are playing a video game on your computer, you could be pushing the device past what it was intended to do.
Video editing software and video games will try to use a graphics processing unit (GPU) to help render the video or images.
Some computer systems have a dedicated GPU to handle these loads, but most systems have an integrated GPU.
An integrated GPU is when the GPU is located within the CPU itself, causing it to do double the work.
When these types of programs run, your CPU is trying to process all the CPU-related information as well as the GPU-related information.
This creates tremendous stress on the CPU and the increased load is going to quickly cause a lot of heat.
Desktop cooling systems are better equipped to handle this increased CPU load, and it may not cause too much of an issue.
Running these types of programs on a laptop will overwhelm its cooling ability.
Even a cooling pad may not be enough to keep your laptop cool while running these taxing programs.
If you need to run performance software, always make sure the laptop or desktop was designed with adequate cooling.
10. Setting Fan Speeds
Some motherboards allow you to adjust the speed of your system fans and the CPU cooler.
If these settings were altered in any way, it may be limiting how much air these fans can push for exhausting hot air from the enclosure.
You may have to enter the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) of your computer to reset these fan settings back to their default settings.
Look at the manufacturer’s documentation for how to access the BIOS on your system.
(It usually involves pressing a specific key while the system is starting up.)
Alternatively, you can increase the fan speeds in the BIOS to allow the fans to push even more air.
Some CPU coolers come with software utilities to adjust CPU cooler speeds from within the operating system.
Just as in the case with the fan settings in the BIOS, you can set this software to push more air from your system.
Just be careful as you can accidentally cause it to not push enough air if you set it incorrectly.
11. Check For Malware
Malware is malicious software designed to gain access to your computer without you knowing it is there.
Malware can target the system fans or CPU cooler in an attempt to overheat your system.
This type of malicious software can also be very taxing on your system in an effort to perform the task it was designed to do.
Malware won’t normally cause any type of long-lasting damage as the CPU will “thermal throttle” to prevent catastrophic failure.
Thermal throttling is when the CPU slows itself down in an attempt to cool itself off before it hits its failure point.
If you are experiencing sudden overheating issues with your computer, make sure you run a reliable antivirus program to get rid of any unwanted programs.
12. CPU Degradation
A CPU’s capabilities and performance will degrade or break down over time.
The process of overclocking a CPU will cause this degradation to happen more quickly.
If your overclocked system suddenly becomes unstable and you need to increase the voltage to make it stable again, you are most likely looking at a degraded CPU.
This increased voltage is going to heat the CPU even more, increasing the heat and the likelihood of it overheating.
Many motherboards are designed to automatically deliver the voltage level that your CPU needs to operate at a stable level.
You may not even realize that your computer has increased the voltage to the CPU to keep it stable.
Adequate cooling of the CPU can prevent this type of degradation from happening while your CPU is running overclocked.
Much like a car, a computer is designed to work as a single unit.
If components are failing or not running correctly, it puts stress on the other components of the system causing them to work harder.
An overheated CPU will limit the performance capabilities of the entire system.
Sustained long-term heat issues can cause the CPU to break down and lower its lifespan.
In most cases, the root cause of the overheating issue has more to do with airflow and ventilation than a failing CPU.
Make sure you keep the surrounding area of your computer free and clear, so you don’t accidentally limit the cool air from flowing through the system.
In some cases, reapplying the thermal paste will be a good idea, especially if purchasing a used system or your computer is getting older.
Make sure you address any heating issues and never ignore an overheated CPU as it will cause more issues as time goes on.