At a Glance
- Text-heavy; Some confusing terminology
This tiny, powerful, and free CPU temperature monitor utilizes the Windows 7 taskbar.
About a year ago, my computer started acting funny. It would
freeze up, applications would randomly crash, and I even got a BSOD
(Blue Screen of Death) or two. After a few hours of suffering
through this erratic behavior, I realized it might be due to my CPU
overheating. That’s when I quickly downloaded and installed Core
Upon running Core Temp, my suspicions were instantly confirmed:
My processor was running at a sizzling 80-85° Celsius (158°
Fahrenheit)–still below its maximum rating, but only just. It took
less than five minutes from the moment I decided I need to know my
processor’s temperature until I had Core Temp set up and
I have a dual core CPU, and Core Temp showed me the temperature
of each core separately. Surprisingly, there can be difference of
one or two degrees between cores, even though they’re both on the
same chip. It’s hard to imagine this being significant, but it’s
nice to know you can track each core separately.
Just above the temperature listing, Core Temp lists a value
labeled “Tj. Max,” with no explanation. I found this part confusing
at first, but once I Googled it, I discovered it stands for “junction temperature max,” which is electronics-speak
for the highest temperature the CPU is rated for (90° C /
194° F in my case). You can use this value to see at a glance
how hot the processor really is, relative to its maximum. But just
because your processor is 10 degrees under the maximum doesn’t mean
you’re safe. The Core Temp FAQ states that the temperature should
be kept around 20° C/68° F or lower below its Tj. Max.
value while under full load.
You can leave Core Temp running in the background and go about
your business using the computer, maybe doing something CPU
intensive. Once you switch back to the application, you would be
able to see the highest temperature your processor reached in the
meantime. Although temperatures display in Celsius at default
settings, you can easily configure Core Temp to display the
temperature using Fahrenheit.
If you’re running Windows Vista or 7, one thing you should note
is that Core Temp requires administrative privileges to run. The Core Temp FAQ (question 11) explains that this
is because Core Temp requires direct access to the hardware for
reading the temperature and related information.
Speaking of Windows 7, CoreTemp can cleverly use the Windows 7
taskbar to show the processor temperature, frequency or load. It
does this by turning its icon into a progress bar, filling it with
color from left to right. For example, if the icon is half-full,
that means you’re at 50% CPU utilization.
After replacing the heat sink and CPU cooler for my processor, I
got it from around 70-80C down to 30-45C, and the computer started
behaving normally again. CoreTemp helped me save my computer and
avoid an unnecessary and costly upgrade to a whole new system.