Why Does GPU Overheat? (Reasons & Solutions)

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Why Does GPU Overheat? Graphics processing unit (GPU) is a component of your computer which specializes in parallel processing.

Today it is most commonly used in gaming computers or for high-end PCs (Personal computers) for handling high-quality video rendering tasks.

They were initially designed and developed for 3D rendering.

GPU overheating not only damages it but also has a significant impact on your computer.

Initially, it only causes your PC to strain and put in more effort and power to cool down.

However, over time it damages all components of your computer by melting other internal components and in severe cases results in loss of data.

GPUs are designed to perform resource heavy tasks for long durations, without any breaks.

However, they produce heat according to how much power they use.

High quality GPUs do not overheat quickly because their fans cool quickly.

Read on to know more about why the GPU overheats and how you can identify its cause and resolve this issue.

GPU Overheating Symptoms

Loud noises of GPU fans, formation of dark spots or black lines on screen, and repeated occurrence of graphics related errors are initial signs that your GPU might be overheating.

However, just these three symptoms might indicate faulty, defective or outdated GPU.

To make sure that in fact it is your GPU’s overheating causing problems for your computer, check and see if you experience these specific symptoms listed below

  • Fan clicking and whirring noises – When fans start working at very high speeds it is a clear sign of overheating as they increase their speeds to lower heat produced by your GPU. These fans start making loud noises as they are unable to dissipate excess heat at their general speed. This causes these fans to overwork and be strained mechanically.
  • Glitches on screen – If your screen starts getting stuck, becomes pixelated or stops responding once your PC’s GPU is being used you must check your GPU temperature manually, or through software tools. Or, you can simply place your hand next to your computer’s vent. If air coming out of this vent is very hot, your system’s GPU is definitely overheating.
  • Graphics errors – While using graphics-intensive applications if errors similar to GPU not responding or GPU failed to recover after a timeout appear, it is definitely a problem with your GPU. To confirm that it is definitely overheating and not some other issue, GPU temperature must be measured when these errors are displayed, or when these applications start to lag, become glitchy and finally stop responding completely.

In cases of extreme overheating of graphics cards, i.e., GPU, it is possible that even your computer starts displaying system error messages, hangs and finally shuts down.

GPU Overheating Temperature

The temperature of a GPU must be between 65-85 °C when computing with all its cores without any excessive load.

Especially when gaming, this is the normal range for GPU temperatures.

Although some graphics cards are able to function even at 110 °Celsius, once temperatures increase beyond this mark, chances of it damaging itself or other parts of your computer are fairly high.

When idling GPU temperature should be lower than 65 °C.

12 Reasons Why GPU is Overheating

Reasons Why GPU is Overheating

Listed below are some reasons to help you understand why GPU overheats and solutions to prevent such issues.

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1. Dirty Fans

GPUs are often unable to cool down properly and this is one of the most common reasons for overheating.

This happens because your GPU’s fans are dirty along with all fans mounted in and on your computer case. Since, these fans are responsible for continuous airflow which carries cool air in and hot air out.

If these fans are not working to their full capacity, they cannot reduce heat as quickly.

Fans coated with dust and dirt move slowly and heavily and, in some cases, might also start getting obstructed by accumulation of dirt.

Solution:

Start by checking all fans visible from outside your computer case.

If they are coated in a thick layer of dust and debris, dirt accumulation is definitely why your GPU is overheating.

Open up your computer’s case and clean its insides. Remove dry and sticky dirt and dust from all corners and crevices as well.

Install air filters over vents and fans of your computer as it keeps larger particles of dirt from entering.

Regularly clean in and around your computer and try to place it in a room with an air purifier or air conditioner as they remove and limit dirt and dust from surrounding areas.

2. Broken Fan

Your GPU will keep overheating if its fan is broken or malfunctioning.

If not repaired/replaced immediately your graphics card might end up getting damaged permanently.

In order to confirm if any fans in your computer are broken, check to see if they are connected to a power source.

If your computer has been recently moved it is possible that a connector has dislodged rendering your PC’s fan broken.

Solution:

Start by opening up the side panel of your CPU case and check if all connectors are in their sockets.

Next, check if fans are being obstructed in any way. After confirming that your PC’s fans are broken partially or completely, replace them immediately.

Also, try not to use your computer till its fans have been fixed, or use it with a powerful external cooling source.

3. Dusty Heat Sink

A heatsink is used for absorbing excess heat so that temperature can be regulated easily.

There might be several heatsinks in your computer system.

Both CPU and GPU have one close to them, as they are the most heat producing components which often tend to overheat.

A GPU heatsink allows your graphics card to cool down quickly, making it possible to reduce chances of overheating.

A heatsink is just a passive component that does not generate any heat by itself.

Additionally, it does not have any moving parts, so chances of malfunctioning are extremely rare.

However, if your GPUs heatsink is coated in layers of dust and dirt, it will remain unable to reduce heat effectively.

Thus, leading to overheating of the GPU.

Solution:

In order to reverse damage caused by dust, a heatsink needs to be cleaned.

However, accessing a GPU’s heatsink is not easy.

You need to start by removing your graphics card’s fan, followed by your GPU, to clean up its heatsink.

If you are unsure about unscrewing and removing your GPU and its fan, you might want to contact a professional to open up your computer and clean it up properly.

4. GPU Overclocking

A computer processor’s speeds are measured in hertz and it is known as clock speed.

Overclocking means forcing all cores of your graphics card to function at very high speeds, therefore increasing its power.

In order to achieve better results with their GPU, users often overclock them.

When a device operates at speeds higher than their normal values, they generate more heat.

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This heat is generated not only due to the GPU’s speed but also excessive power consumption.

Therefore, overclocking is one of the most common causes of your GPU overheating.

At times, even manufacturers provide overclocked GPUs, since they believe they produce better results.

Solution:

You must immediately stop GPU overclocking as there is no other way to lower heat produced by this process.

Internal fans as well as external cooling systems are incapable of removing such high amounts of heat quickly.

Download an application which helps to begin overclocking, find your GPUs default settings and then reset necessary values to stop overclocking.

Check if you have the right default values for your GPU model, as overclocking is a very risky process that might damage your GPU permanently.

5. Overstressed GPU

Every GPU has a threshold for maximum stress it can bear while functioning optimally.

However, if it is continuously forced to overwork or is stressed due to excessive load it is bound to overheat.

Once you start using your GPU for multiple tasks simultaneously you should check if it can actually support all graphics-intensive applications and games.

Solution:

You can choose to upgrade your GPU if you feel it is not sufficient for all activities you want to perform using your computer.

Although, before purchasing check the state of your current GPU. If it is close to dying you must definitely upgrade.

If not then you might consider selling your current GPU and purchasing a better option for yourself.

Another option would be to use your GPU for a single task at a time. Either play a game or run graphics-intensive applications.

Since, you are not completely utilizing its resources your GPU will not be overloaded or stressed.

6. Obstructed Airflow

A high-quality GPU might overheat while supporting all of your graphics-intensive tasks including all gaming and computing needs.

Even though it is not overworking, overheating might occur as airflow in and around your computer is obstructed.

Solution:

Start by checking for any physical obstructions like loose hardware components that might be blocking flow of air through your computer.

This obstruction could also be caused by dirt clogging your PC’s fans, vents and other parts.

Clean thoroughly and check whether air is flowing in the same direction or fans are blowing air against one another.

Place your computer next to an external PC cooler or in an open space where air flow is not obstructed by a wall right next to your computer’s vents.

Upgrade your CPU case if it is small and does not allow sufficient space for multiple fans.

Install fans according to your GPU’s and CPU’s power and capacity.

7. Incompatible or Outdated GPU

Your GPU might be old, outdated and incompatible with any new applications being run using it.

Since it works hard to keep up with all tasks being processed, it overheats easily.

Solution:

Upgrade to a more high-end and up-to-date GPU if it is old and unable to keep up with your computing needs.

If you have recently upgraded any other components in your computer, it is possible your GPU is incompatible with these newly installed components.

Check online for graphics cards compatible with other components of your computer and purchase one accordingly in order to upgrade.

8. Dried up Thermal Paste

Heatsinks near CPUs and GPUs must be coated with a compound known as thermal paste.

This gel-like substance consists of zinc oxide and supports absorption of high levels of heat.

It ensures there are no air pockets between your graphics card and heatsink.

Unfortunately, thermal paste degrades over time due to absorption of heat, consequently reducing its ability to lower temperatures quickly.

Solution:

Replace thermal paste. Use a cleaning kit to remove any residue of older layers of thermal paste from your GPU’s heatsink.

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Now apply fresh thermal paste and observe GPU temperatures to ensure it is working properly.

9. New Drivers

Old GPUs and upgraded drivers are incompatible. They tend to cause overheating as they try to put more stress on your GPU.

Also, it is possible that these new drivers have bugs which are causing them to overwork your GPU and increase chances of overheating.

Solution:

Delete newly installed drivers and install their previous versions. If this solves overheating issues you should wait till new drivers are debugged.

Furthermore, if there is a version of a driver which you know is most compatible with your GPU, install it instead and never update any time there is a new driver update available.

If your GPU is old and you are considering upgrading, keep this new driver and choose a compatible GPU.

10. Software Problems

While installing software, errors might occur. These errors may make your GPU and newly installed software incompatible.

This may cause your GPU to overheat rapidly.

If you keep using your GPU with this software installed, it will start degrading and get damaged in a shorter period of time.

Solution:

Uninstall any recently installed software and check if this solves your GPU overheating problem.

Additionally, you might want to consider restoring to a time when there were no issues with your computer.

Do not let overheating issues continue for long as they damage not just your GPU but your entire computer.

11. Hardware Issues

Before, during or after installation, graphics cards should not be exposed to moisture as it leads to static overload.

When dust and dirt are accumulated over time, dust prevents electrical components from conducting electricity.

However, if moisture and dust are both present, and GPU is exposed to both for long durations, it can cause serious issues with conductivity.

When salinity in moisture increases it also increases electrical conductivity.

If not addressed promptly, continuous electrical interference might cause your GPU to become completely damaged.

Solution:

To resolve any conductivity related issues, you have to consult a technician as they can locate the problem immediately and perform repairs if necessary.

You might want to consider purchasing a new GPU if your current one is old and repair costs are fairly high.

12. Insufficient Power Source

GPU overheating occurs when it does not receive sufficient power.

This can be caused by a weaker power source which also heats up contributing to a significant increase in heat generated.

Your GPU requires a proper power source so that it does not have to struggle to function properly.

When electrical devices do not receive sufficient power, they might malfunction in various ways.

Check your power source as it may not be the right power supply source for a high-end PC with graphics card and other power consuming hardware.

Solution:  

Replace your computer’s power supply source to a suitable one, and add a surge protector before connecting your computer to any power source.

Conclusion

If you are wondering why the GPU overheats, it is time for you to stop damaging your GPU and start checking for reasons to resolve this issue.

Once you have read through these aforementioned causes and solutions you might want to start identifying which reasons are applicable to your system and troubleshoot accordingly.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin