Your computer’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) starts generating heat as soon as your computer is switched on.
Its temperature is not high at this point however, it is the only component in your computer that starts working as soon as your computer is powered on. Therefore, its temperature is higher than all other components in your system at this time.
Your system’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) does not start working immediately, as soon as your computer is turned on.
Once your system is switched on, your GPU has no tasks assigned to it immediately therefore, it does not heat up as much as your CPU.
There are several other reasons why CPUs are hotter than GPU that you can find out if you read on.
In This Article
6 Reasons Why CPU is Hotter Than GPU (with Solutions)
Your computer has two processors CPU and GPU and both these processors can get very hot. Your computer is designed in a manner to allow these devices to operate even at pretty high temperatures.
While we know the most basic reason why your CPU and GPU heats up is because it runs on electricity, we also need to remember that GPU performs more calculations than your CPU in a given period of time so its temperature must be higher.
Moreover, your GPU processes a heavier load of data than your CPU, so naturally its temperature will be higher.
However, there are some cases where your GPU remains cool and your CPU heats up. Listed below are some reasons why is CPU hotter than GPU
1. Heavy Load
Your CPU’s temperature increases when more electricity passes through it, therefore, when load on your system increases, its temperature also increases.
Your GPU is mostly accessed and used by your CPU, when there is a complicated task, which requires parallel processing or scientific calculations.
Browsing the internet, word processing, editing a spreadsheet, working on a presentation, do not require your GPU’s resources.
In this case only your CPU is handling all these processes and when your CPU is required to handle all of these processes at the same time, your CPU’s resources are not sufficient.
Your CPU’s temperature will increase significantly and you need to be prepared to cool it down properly.
These instructions are in other programming languages which cannot be understood by your computer.
Your CPU takes all this information, divides it into small chunks which can be executed individually without losing its meaning and then translates it into 1s and 0s, that other internal components of your computer can understand.
Your CPU is present in the form of a silicon chip with a specific place designated to it on your computer’s motherboard.
It is made up of a control unit, arithmetic-logic unit and memory, however, your computer’s memory devices are a completely different unit physically.
There are two types of memory devices in your computer, temporary and permanent.
The information which your CPU needs to process is first extracted from permanent memory and then stored in your system’s temporary memory.
After being processed by your CPU, output information directly gets sent to monitor/speaker or other output devices and if any data needs to be stored it gets saved in your system’s temporary memory.
It is later updated to permanent memory if necessary.
Latest and modern CPUs are also free from GPUs as both are no longer integrated due to overheating and various other issues.
Several billion microscopic transistors are present in one single CPU chip, and each of these transistors acts as a switch that can be turned on or off for sending a particular message.
Your CPU’s speed and size are inversely proportional as over the years transistor size has been decreasing significantly while CPU speed has been increasing.
This is possible because when transistor size decreases, a greater number of transistors can be placed in the same space, thereby increasing your processor power.
You need to learn how to maintain a balance between using your CPU and GPU’s resources.
If you keep your GPU working at the same time as your CPU, you need not worry about increasing load on your CPU as it will delegate some of its tasks over to your GPU.
This way your CPU will not get overheated. Also, its temperature will not increase more than your GPUs.
A CPU or your computer’s main processor is your computer’s core or brain.
Your computer cannot function without your CPU; however, your CPU also requires other hardware components to operate.
A CPU plays the role of a director, directing other components to perform actions based on instructions it receives from any application running on your computer.
2. Data Processing Method
Your CPU can only perform any action when it is given instructions.
Therefore, only when you perform any action on your computer through any application, will your CPU be given instructions and data to process and communicate to other internal components of your computer.
It follows a specific pattern of three steps in order to successfully complete any task assigned to your CPU.
These steps are Fetch, Decode and Execute and your CPU performs several millions of these processes in every second.
- Fetch – Before executing any program’s instruction your CPU, itself needs to access this code from its location in permanent memory. You CPU is not sent any instructions through any application, it first accesses them from your main memory, stores necessary instructions in your system’s RAM (Random Access Memory) and then accesses necessary information in small pieces of code which are then executed by your system’s CPU.
Once an instruction is fetched, your CPU starts the process of accessing the next piece of this code from wherever it is stored in your computer.
- Decode – Once your CPU has accessed a piece of code, it then proceeds to decode it. Each instruction is converted to 1s and 0s format of binary numbers before being sent to your CPU to be further decoded as symbols. These symbols are then sent to other components based on actions that need to be performed.
- Execute – This is your CPU’s processing system’s last and final step. Whatever output has been generated by processing the aforementioned instruction is performed in this step. If some information is required to be stored it first gets stored in temporary memory and if some other form of output is generated it is communicated to the specified output device and output is generated accordingly.
In order to perform all these actions your computer needs to run on electricity.
Not all of this electrical energy gets consumed and since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, this electrical energy which is not used gets converted to heat or thermal energy.
Additionally, when electricity passes through your computer’s circuits it faces some resistance. This also generates some heat.
Also, when your computer processes data these actions also generate some heat.
All this heat energy once combined becomes a lot of heat energy which is generated from your CPU.
3. Airflow Problem
No matter how your computer’s cooling system is configured, it can’t function without airflow.
If your CPU is overheating, use compressed air to blow out the case and its intake and exhaust ports. This will remove any dust clogging the airflow channels.
If you have an existing system that has not been cleaned in a while, and have also only upgraded your system’s GPU recently, the area around your GPU would be clean.
Also, its thermal paste will be new and its fan also clean. This would make it easier for heat released by your GPU to be dissipated easily.
Its temperature will naturally decrease once it has a proper heat releasing and cooling system.
However, if you have failed to clean around your CPU and replace its thermal paste at this time, your CPU will be suffering and you will not be able to cool it down quickly.
Also, if you have not cleaned the rest of your computer as well as your CPU’s fan, your system’s ability to remove heat close to your main processor will be very low.
4. CPU Cooler Failure
Covering most CPUs is a large cooling assembly consisting of three components: a fan, a heatsink, and a thin layer of thermal conductor that helps transfer heat from the CPU to the heatsink and fan.
If the CPU is hot and the case is not dusty, check if the fan is spinning, if not replace the fan. Another option is to reinstall the CPU cooler, or have it professionally reinstalled, reapply thermal tape or grease, and apply a new coating.
CPUs can also heat up quickly if they exceed factory specifications. For example, running a CPU at 150% speed to make transistors run faster usually requires a better cooling system.
While it’s true that liquid-based systems can be used to deal with the extra heat generated by overclocking (such as in cars), in theory you can keep your computer overclocked unless a component of your CPU fails.
Overclocking is more than telling your CPU to run at 150x, but giving it more current/voltage than recommended.
Without a thorough investigation of how far you can actually push, you’re very likely to burn out your CPU completely.
If you overclocked your CPU because you felt it was bottlenecking your GPU, it will surely be hotter than your GPU.
Bottlenecking occurs when one component of your system slows down the optimal speed of one or more components in your system.
CPU bottlenecking, GPU bottlenecking and even RAM bottlenecking can occur.
However, if your CPU and GPU are not working at similar speeds and rather than supporting each other are hindering the other processor from working you should not overclock.
Overclocking creates several problems and is also fairly difficult to perform.
Furthermore, once you have overclocked, you might successfully be able to delegate the heavy task load to your system’s GPU.
This will cause both your CPU and GPU’s temperature to rise, adding to your system’s overall increase in temperature.
If you are not prepared and have not equipped your system with a powerful cooling system that can reduce this rise in temperature effectively and efficiently, your system will either crash, or be fried or melt owing to heat.
Even if you have a proper cooling system, your computer might not be ready to handle two processors working at such high speeds.
Additionally, you might not always require an overclocked system which supports your GPU’s speed.
When performing simple tasks not only will your system be hindered but it will lead to high CPU usage.
6. GPU is Not Working or Placed Improperly
In some cases, if your CPU is not properly placed in its slot or properly connected to your system’s motherboard it will not work properly or at all.
In such a situation your CPU will not be able to delegate any tasks to your GPU and its temperature will certainly remain lower than your CPU.
A GPU is a parallel processing component in your computer which allows applications to perform multiple calculations at the same time.
This not only results in faster processing but also makes it easier for the CPU to perform only simple tasks and keep its usage low.
GPUs are mainly used for processing graphical data and were previously required only for gaming computers.
In order to process graphical data, if your computer only has a CPU and no GPU, regardless of how many cores your CPU has, it will cause lagging issues.
Your CPU is unable to process data at the same speeds as your GPU, since CPU does not have the ability to process data parallelly.
Despite multiple cores and multithreading, the total number of processors in your GPU is much more than your CPU.
GPUs act as a companion to your processor as they boost your system’s speed of processing data.
Your GPU is not only used for processing graphical data but can also assist in processing scientific and technical data with greater speed and enhanced efficiency.
Your GPU does not slow down your CPU even when it sends results of processed data that need to be interpreted and sent to output or memory devices.
At times your CPU needs to process the same data repeatedly, especially for images and videos where only small changes are taking place with each frame.
However, all data needs to be processed again and again in this case.
If your CPU starts processing this data, not only will it take a lot of time but also waste a lot of your CPU’s resources.
Your GPU is able to process this data easily by dividing it into smaller chunks that each of its processors can run.
This way numerous problems faced by your CPU are avoided and your GPU does not face them due to its ability to process parallelly and solve complicated mathematical calculations easily.
Your computer’s GPU operates just like your CPU however, it performs calculations at a much faster pace.
This allows your CPU to delegate some of its difficult work to your GPU.
There are two types of GPUs and your CPU’s heat generation depends upon which type is present in your computer.
The first type is integrated GPU, meaning it is combined with some other component on your system’s motherboard.
In most cases it is combined with your CPU and becomes a part of your CPU rather than existing as an independent component.
If your GPU is attached to your CPU or is a part of your CPU, all heat generated from this processor becomes heat generated by your CPU, since it is the main component in this combination.
A GPU’s second type is a dedicated or discrete GPU in which your GPU is a completely independent unit and is only placed in its fixed spot on your system’s motherboard.
If you notice your system lagging a lot or unable to process graphical data properly you need to check your GPU.
You can either check your GPU’s status through third party applications or open up your system and check whether or not it is fixed properly.
If it is not functioning properly, you can either get an expert to look at it or try it yourself if you know how to insert a GPU to your motherboard.
If you turn on your computer it will start heating immediately and the source of this heat is your CPU.
Now that you have gone through this list and know what to look for, you should be able to realize why the CPU is hotter than the GPU.
Once you know you can easily rectify any problem.