Does An Overheating CPU Cause Low FPS?

If you didn’t know already, the CPU plays a huge role in how well a game plays, this is because the CPU acts as a bottleneck for the GPU.

So the CPU pretty much affects FPS, a better and faster CPU in terms of single-core performance will generally outperform a slower CPU in terms of single-core performance in gaming.

So if an overheating CPU causes it to thermal throttle and clock down, the answer is yes, an overheating CPU will have a direct impact on the FPS, and can cause it to drop.

Do Hot CPUs Cause Low FPS?

Hot CPUs will cause low FPS because when a CPU reaches a certain limit, the CPU will generally thermal throttle in an attempt to lower the temperatures.

Thermal throttling means that the CPU will lower the clock speed so it isn’t working as hard consequentially generating a lot of heat, so hot CPUs technically cause low FPS.

Thermal throttling can be quite annoying as it can negatively impact the immersive experience in some games, and if you’re a competitive player, it can cause you to lose some games.

Most of the time, you’ll just feel that your computer feels much slower than usual, for example, when you’re browsing the internet, you may notice web pages take longer to load, or YouTube videos freeze more often.

Signs Of A Throttling CPU:

  • Unusually low clock speeds
  • CPU fan ramping up in speeds
  • Severe performance degradation in games (Low FPS)
  • Sudden FPS drops in games

What Causes A CPU To Run Hot?

  • Bad CPU cooler
  • Heavy workload
  • Overclocking
  • Viruses
  • Blocked air vents

A CPU will run hot for many reasons, one of the main reasons is having insufficient cooling, this could either mean that you have a bad CPU cooler, or warm air isn’t effectively leaving the system.

A hot CPU can be caused by heavy workloads that are specifically CPU intensive, this is because the CPU will boost its clock speed to run the task more effectively.

An overclocked CPU will run exceptionally hot, this is because the CPU is working beyond the manufacturers rated frequency. This is why when you overclock, you need a great cooling system in place.

Viruses can cause your CPU to run hot, this abnormal behaviour will use up the system resources, and you will find that your CPU is working hard when your PC is pretty much idle.

Blocked air vents can cause a CPU to run hot because if the system is producing more hot air than is leaving, the overall temperature will rise and cause the CPU to run hot.

What CPU Temperatures Are Too High?

what CPU temperature is too hot

Your CPU is too hot once it starts thermal throttling, so typically around 70C-90C depending on the processor.

When gaming, your CPU should stick between 60C and 75C, these are optimal temperatures for a gaming PC. Most gamers would agree that 70C is perfectly fine for gaming

Similar temperatures apply for a gaming laptop(60-70C), however it’s much harder to maintain decent temperatures with gaming laptops due to limited ventilation.

With laptops, you do have options to keep the CPU cool as previously stated, using thermal pads should maintain low/decent temperatures.

If your CPU goes above these recommended temperatures, then you are at risk of thermal throttling your CPU.

How To Effectively Reduce CPU Temperature

How to reduce FPS in game
  • Installing a better CPU cooler
  • Removing dust from the system
  • Adding a new layer of thermal paste
  • Running an antivirus scan
  • Buy a thermal pad for a laptop
  • Don’t game in a hot room

There are many ways you can effectively reduce the temperature of your CPU, the best way is to purchase a better CPU cooler, 240MM AIO and some beefy air coolers are great for keeping CPUs cool.

If your system is old, then there is a chance that the thermal paste has dried up and lost its effectiveness. This can cause a CPU to run hot, by simply adding a fresh layer of thermal paste can reduce temperatures.

If you have an inefficient cooling system setup that doesn’t effectively exhaust hot air, then this can contribute to heating up components such as the CPU. Ensure cool air comes in and hot air goes out for best temperatures.

This involves checking the vents in your PC for dust and debris and using something like compressed air to remove it.

Running an antivirus scan to remove any harmful programs can improve the CPU temperatures if you notice your CPU is running at 100% when idle. Viruses can take up a lot of resources that contribute to a hot CPU.

If you’re on a laptop, purchasing a thermal pad to effectively dissipate heat from the laptop could be a worthwhile investment.

If your PC or laptop is in a hot room, then the chances that the ambient heat can negatively impact your PCs temperature is pretty high.

Having air conditioning in your room can drastically improve PC temperatures as the CPU temperature increases by about 1° C for every 1° C rise in ambient temperature.

Air Or AIO Cooler For Gaming

AIO vs AIR cooling for FPS

So you’re looking for the best cooling solution for your PC, and you’ve heard about air and AIO coolers, they’re the most popular options when it comes to cooling a CPU.

It’s important to get the correct cooling solution for your CPU so you get optimal FPS in the games you’re playing.

Air Coolers:

Air coolers main method of cooling is using air which absorbs heat from the CPU and pushes the hot air out of the case.

The most popular type of air cooler is the tower cooler which is pretty effective at keeping a CPU cool.

Tower coolers consist of a fan, and a heatsink with heatpipes. The fan’s job is to push air through the heatsink which will cool the heatpipes so the heatpipes can cool the CPU.

Pros Of Air Coolers:

  • Great cooling potential
  • Affordable
  • Less failure points

Cons Of Air Coolers:

  • Bulkier than AIO coolers
  • Less aesthetically pleasing

AIO Coolers:

AIO coolers main method of cooling the CPU is by using water typically distilled to dissipate heat away from the processor.

AIO coolers consist of a pump, water block, radiator, and a fan, and the pump’s job is to circulate water through the water block which is connected to the CPU. The water block will then cool the CPU.

The radiator’s job is to cool down the water once it’s been heated by the CPU, the way the radiator cools the water is by the fans connected to it.

Radiators come in different sizes and they are 120MM, 140MM, 240MM, 280MM, and 360MM, and the biggest radiator will have the best cooling performance.

Pros Of AIO Coolers:

  • AIO coolers have the highest cooling potential
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Less bulkier
  • Doesn’t interfere with DIMM slots

Cons Of AIO Coolers:

  • More failure points
  • Louder due to fans and pumps
  • More expensive

What Cooler Is Best For FPS?

Well it mostly depends on what cooler you’re using, there are some air coolers that outperform some AIO coolers and vice versa.

Air coolers such as the Noctua NH-D15 rivals many AIO coolers in cooling performance, it closely resembles a 240MM AIO, this makes it one of the best air coolers.

280MM+ AIO coolers are often better for cooling hot CPU and overclocked CPUs such as the I7 12700K or the I9 12900K, we recommend going down this route if you want the best cooling performance possible.

280MM and 360MM AIO coolers are often better than 240MM AIOs as they can cool the CPU better with lower RPMS and without making as much noise, so they’re preferred more.

How To Improve FPS In Game

Gaming PC FPS

Reducing the in game settings, and disabling settings such as AA can massively improve the FPS, this is because these settings are extremely GPU intensive.

Make sure the RAM is running at its recommended frequency, if you’re purchasing XMP RAM, there is a chance you’ve forgotten to overclock them in the BIOS.

Overclocking your RAM means the CPU and RAM will exchange data faster and more effectively which will increase FPS slightly.

Ensure you’re actually outputting from the GPU, this is a common mistake many beginner builders make, they will plug their output cables into the motherboard so they’re using the integrated graphics instead.

Make sure you are not using integrated graphics as you’ll experience massively lower FPS than you should, and the CPU will work harder.


In conclusion we’ve learnt that the CPU temperature does impact how well a CPU can perform which will consequently influence the FPS in games.

Hotter CPUs will thermal throttle which means it will clock down and increase the bottleneck with the GPU.

A bottlenecked GPU will run below 100% whereas the CPU will run at 100%, this means you’re leaving a lot of performance on the table.

This is why it’s important that you cool your CPU properly by ensuring you have a good enough CPU cooler, air vents aren’t blocked, and correct ventilation.

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