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Preventing a Meltdown
Processor temperature is a concern to anyone who overclocks or otherwise modifies their PC. A standard computer with a generic cooler is fine at stock speeds, but can overheat if overclocked aggresively.
Heat is generated as a byproduct within the CPU. The harder it works, the more heat it produces. That’s why cooling is so important. If you do want to overclock you need to have a temperature monitor installed on your PC so you can make sure that the processor isn't cooking itself.
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How to Monitor Processor Temperatures
All computer processors have heat sensors built-in to the processor design. These sensors exist as a fail-safe. If the processor temperature exceeds a certain pre-determined point, the processor (and as a result, your computer) will shut down to prevent damage. However, this shutdown point is extremely high, and is usually set so as to prevent complete and immediate destruction of the processor. The fact that your processor hasn't automatically shut down doesn't mean the processor is running at the right temperature.
Fortuantely, there are two programs that can be used monitor tempertures within Windows. These are Speedfan and TMonitor.
Speedfan is the most popular temperature monitoring software available today, and has held that title for years. It monitors the temperature of your processor and also reports the temperature reading from any other sensor in your computer. Your average PC will report temperatures for the CPU, GPU and motherboard. There may also be additional readings from hard drives and expansion cards.
As you can see from the image, it’s quite comprehensive. If you motherboard allows it this program can even control the speed of your system's fans (hence the name of the program), which is handy as you can make manual adjustments to your cooling and obtain a precise balance between fan speed and system temperature.
TMonitor is another free program, written by the same people that brought us CPU-Z, an excellent processor identification and monitoring tool. It’s written mainly for Intel processors, but if your AMD is a K10 series then it will work fine. It’s a light-weight program that only monitors temperature - it can't change fan speeds or perform any other function. However, the display is updated 20 times every second and is more granular than you would ever need. If you’re overclocking on the edge and need to monitor the smallest temperature changes, this is the program for you.
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Temperature is only something you have to worry about if your computer is in a hot space or you overclock it. The two programs listed above will help you monitor temperatures closely and keep your AMD powered system out of harm's way.
Just remember - these programs only report high temperatures, but don't prevent them. If you discover that your system is running hotter than it should it's up to you to formulate a plan for dealing with the situation.
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Images are from developer websites