What is the max allowed temperature for an Intel i7 Core CPU?

Posted on 2012-09-14
Last Modified: 2012-09-16
What is the maximum allowed temperature for an Intel i7 Core CPU before it will cause the computer to shut down?
Question by:Knowledgeable
    LVL 31

    Assisted Solution

    Download and install CoreTemp. It will let you monitor the temperature of the CPU.

    When it's running, one of the boxes in CoreTemp is labelled "Tj. Max" which tells you the maximum temperature that the processor is rated for without damage. For example, on my laptop which has an Intel Core2 Duo T-series processor, Tj. Max is 90C.

    Apparently this temperature is documented for laptop processors, but desktop processors sometimes do not necessarily have a documented maximum. In that case... all you can do really is guess.

    Most people would say that a reasonable idle temperature is between 30-50 degrees. A reasonable full-load temperature is 60-70 degrees. There is no good reason for the CPU to be hotter than 70 degrees so you should address the issue if you discover that it is, but damage at that temperature is unlikely. Anything hotter than 80 degrees is getting dangerous, and 85 to 90 degrees is around when the system will shut down or throttle back.

    -- Also something to note is that modern CPUs usually don't just shut down, they throttle back the clock speed gradually, reducing power and heat, in order to prevent damage. Only once the processor is running at like 5% of it's normal speed and STILL overheating does it shut down.
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    It depends on WHICH Core i7 CPU you have.    A bit of detail ...

    In simple terms, there are two temperatures that used when measuring how hot a CPU is:   Tcase and Tjunction.    The latter is often referred to as TJ Max  (thermal junction max temp).

    Tcase can be more accurately measured;  but Tjunction/TJ Max is more easily measured, and is what the software temperature monitoring utilities like CoreTemp and RealTemp display.    Note that Tjunction measurements at relatively low temps (like idle temps) are VERY inaccurate -- which is why some folks report temperatures actually below ambient !!  (clearly impossible)

    Intel publishes the Tcase specification for all CPUs that have integrated heat spreaders, since this is a more accurate measurement for system designers to use when testing their system designs.   [It basically represents the max temp that the center of the integrated heatsink should ever achieve.     For CPU's that don't have integrated heat spreaders (many mobile CPUs), they publish the Tjunction temperature.

    With regard to Tcase, the desktop CPU's have been very consistent throughout all 3 genrations.   Tcase for 1st Generation Core i7's vary from  66.8°C to 72.7°C;   2nd Generation Core i7's vary from  66.8°C to 72.6°C;  and 3rd Generation Core i7's vary from  66.8°C to 72.7°C.     The 3 generations of mobile i7's have Tcase specifications very similar ot the desktop CPU's for those that have integrated heat spreaders;  and have Tjunction specs between 100°C and 105°C, depending on the specific CPU.

    To know the actual answer for YOUR specific CPU, you'll need to look it up on Intel's excellent processor specification site:      Just select whether it's a desktop or mobile CPU;  then select the appropriate generation;  then click on your specific CPU;  and the Package Specfiications will show the temperature specification.

    Note that, as mentioned above, this isn't a "shutdown" point -- but is the point at which the CPU starts to "thermally throttle".    But in practice this often results in unstable operation and system shutdown ... which is why many folks think the CPU simply shuts down.

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