If you suspect that the lags or stutters in your gameplay are being caused by an overheating GPU or a CPU or perhaps if you want to check the integrity of your PC’s cooling system particularly after overclocking, then you will definitely want to know how to monitor CPU and GPU temp while gaming.
Fortunately, monitoring the CPU and the GPU temperature while gaming is fairly simple. It is only a matter of installing a few trusted and free third party software namely ‘MSI Afterburner’, ‘GPU-Z” and the ‘CPU Temp’ and configuring them with the right settings.
MSI Afterburner is a very popular software for not just for checking the temperature, but also for real-time monitoring of various elements of your CPU and GPU including CPU and GPU usage, FPS, RAM usage etc.
‘CPU Temp’ by ALCPU, on the other hand, is another very important tool that tells you the minimum and the maximum temperature your CPU recorded in a given time. At the same time it shares important details regarding the temperature specification of your CPU including its TJmax temperature.
And finally, GPU-Z by TechPowerUp is a tool for all thing related to your graphics card, including temperature monitoring.
In the following text I will talk in detail about how to monitor CPU and GPU temp while gaming in real-time with minimum effort.
How to Monitor CPU and GPU Temp While Gaming?
Again, in order to monitor the CPU and GPU temperatures, I would recommend installing three free utilities:
What is MSI Afterburner?
MSI Afterburner is actually a utility for overclockers. However, it is also an extensive monitoring software.
The best part about this utility is that it can show the temperature of your CPU and your GPU ON-SCREEN WHILE gaming.
In addition to temperature, it can monitor a plethora of other sensors. You can check out the different sensors it can monitor by going to its settings menu. More on this below.
Do You Need to Have an MSI Graphics Card or a Motherboard for MSI Afterburner to Work?
Fortunately, NO. You do not need to have an MSI GPU or a motherboard for this free software to work.
You can use it on any PC so long as it has the relevant sensors (which most do).
Let us talk about how to monitor CPU and GPU temperature separately.
How to Monitor CPU Temp While Gaming?
Let’s first talk about how to monitor CPU temp while gaming.
You can use the MSI Afterburner to monitor the real-time or live temperature of CPU as well as its individual cores.
Let us dive into the detail
Step 1: Install and RUN MSI After Burner
Head over to the official site and download the software. Its a free software.
Install it and then RUN it which should open a window similar to the one shown below:
The utility on its main screen shows the details regarding your GPU (NOT the CPU). We are not really interested in what the utility shows on the main screen for now.
Step 2: Head Over to the Setting
Click the “Gear” icon on the left-hand side of the screen which should open a new window.
Step 3: Press the Monitoring Tab and Select the Right Sensors to Display On Screen
This is the most important step.
Select the “Monitoring” Tab in the window that opens and then pay attention to the following details.
The field that reads “Active Hardware Monitoring Graphs” shows all the sensors that you can monitor on your PC.
From here, find and select all the sensors related to the “CPU Temperature” i.e CPU Temperature, CPU1 Temperature, CPU2 Temperature etc.
- CPU Temperature sensor monitors the overall temperature of your CPU
- CPU1 Temperature, CPU2 Temperature etc shows the temperature of each THREAD your CPU has.
i. Place the Check Mark to Enable the Sensor
Once you have located all the sensors pertaining to the CPU temperature, place a Check Mark next to them on the left by pressing the Check Mark icon to enable it.
ii. Enable the Particular Sensor for On-Screen Display
This is the critical step that will actually allow the sensor to show its value on-screen while gaming.
Select each of the sensors INDIVIDUALLY and then press the “Show in On-Screen Display” check box in the “CPU Temperature Graph Properties”.
This will enable the sensor to display its value while you play the game.
What Does the Check Mark Do?
The Check Mark on the left of each sensor serves two functions. First, it allows for that particular sensor to be enabled. Without enabling it, the sensor will not show any value.
Secondly, it allows that particular sensor to record its value in the hardware monitor graph.
You can access the graphs of the check marked sensors by accessing the “Hardware Monitor” from the Main Screen.
From the Hardware Monitoring window you can see the historical data of the “ticked” sensors in graph form.
The most important thing this windows shows is the minimum and maximum temperature the particular CPU sensor recorded in a short time period.
For gamers this is very important.
Step 4: Fire Up Your Game
Run any game.
By default, on the top left-side of the screen, you should now be able to view and monitor the value of all the sensors you have selected in real-time.
In case if you can’t see the On-Screen Display, press “ALT+O”.
The default toggle function for turning the On-Screen display On or Off is AlT+O”.
You can change this toggle button by going to Settings ->On-Screen Display TAB -> Toggle On-Screen Display.
Customizations: There is a Plethora of Settings You Can Play With in Afterburner
There a plethora of other sensors that you can enable including but not limited to:
- Frame Per Second monitor
- CPU Usage: Overall and Per Thread
- CPU Clock: Overall and Per Thread
- RAM Usage
You can also play around with the looks of the On Screen Display. You can modify:
- Text Size
- Text Color
- Name of the Sensors
and much more.
Optional Step 5: Install CPU Temp
CPU Temp is another industry standard for monitoring the temperature of your CPU.
This is something that can run in the background while you play your game.
The important parameters it shows is the minimum and the maxim temperature your PC has recorded since the utility was run.
The maximum temperature my old HP Omen gaming laptop shows is 91° C, which is considered less than optimal. So obviously either my old laptop needs a deep cleaning, or the cooling design of HP Omen is intrinsically bad.
Another very important parameter this utility shows is the TJMax or the Thermal Junction Temperature Max of your CPU.
TJMax and CPU Throttling
TJMax is the maximum temperature that a CPU can sustain before it starts to throttle or even shutdown.
Thermal throttling is done automatically by the CPU as a fail-safe mechanism on high temperatures to save itself from burning out.
During thermal throttling, the CPU reduces its voltage and clockspeed to reduce the overall power it consumes, this in turn results in lower heat.
The biggest issue with thermal throttling is that it can significantly lower the performance which in turn can result in lags, stutters and serious drop in frame rates
Also Read in Detail: What is CPU Throttling?
How to Monitor GPU Temp While Gaming?
Let us now talk about how to monitor GPU temp while gaming.
You can use MSI Afterburner utility to monitor the GPU Temperature as easily as you monitor the CPU temperature.
The steps involved are identical to that with the CPU temperature above, except that you choose the relevant GPU sensors in Step 3 for On-Screen Display.
Select the GPU Temperature Sensor from Monitoring Tab
This should enable the On-Screen Display for the selected GPU
Clearing the Confusion: How to Know if GPU1 is Dedicated or Integrated – GPU1 vs GPU2?
If you have two GPUs i.e an integrated and a dedicated GPU in your PC than MSI Afterburner will show the relevant sensors simply with the prefix GPU1 and GPU2 WITHOUT telling you which is which.
For instance, “GPU1 Temperature” sensor does not tell you whether GPU1 relates to the dedicated or the integrated graphics.
So to find this out, simply head over to the “General” tab of the settings window and read the drop down menu under the “Master Graphics Processor Selection”
Here it should clarify what GPU1, GPU2 and so on relate to. In my PC, GPU1 relates to the dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti.
Note that on my PC, MSI AfterBurner does not show the temperature sensor for the iGPU.
Optional Using GPU-Z – Sometimes MSI Afterburner Does not Show Sensor for iGPU
Another very popular software for all things GPU is GPU-Z by TechPowerUp.
This can help in covering up the shortcomings of MSI Afterburner.
As mentioned. sometimes, MSI Afterburner, does not show the Temperature sensor of the iGPU. Therefore, in order to monitor the temperature of your iGPU, you can use GPU-Z.
Unfortunately, GPU-Z only works in the background and does not show value On-Screen while gaming.
Step 1: Install and Run GPU-Z
Install and RUN GPU-Z.
From the window that opens, select the right GPU from the drop down menu on the bottom left of the window IF you have two graphics cards.
I have selected my iGPU i.e Intel HD Graphics 630 from the Drop Down Menu.
Step 2: Go to Sensors Tab
Next Go to the Sensors Tab.
There you will find multitude of sensors that you can monitor for the selected GPU including its temperature.
Pay attention to the GPU Temperature drop down menu. There you can select the value you want to monitor i.e the current temperature reading, lower, highest and the average temperature reading.
Again, the drawback of GPU-Z is that it will not show the temperatures ON SCREEN while gaming. It only runs in the background.
However, if MSI Afterburner fails to show the temperature sensor for your GPU (particularly for your iGPU), then you can use the GPU-Z as a last resort to get an insight.
Here I talked in detail about how to monitor CPU and GPU temp while gaming. I basically talked about how you can use MSI Afterburner for this purpose.
MSI Afterburner is essentially the industry standard for monitoring your PC systems and the frame rate while gaming.
But if you have recently overclocked your CPU or your GPU, then I would also recommend installing the CPU Temp as well as the GPU-Z to get a greater insight into your CPU or your GPU.