How to Check Computer Temperature in the BIOS

by Milton Kazmeyer
Motherboards contain sensors that monitor system temperatures.

Motherboards contain sensors that monitor system temperatures.

One of the ways in which you can monitor your computer's health is by checking its temperature. CPUs, graphics cards and other components generate heat, and if your system is not dissipating that heat properly it can lead to erratic behavior, shutdowns and even hardware damage. Your motherboard has built-in temperature sensors to monitor heat levels and you can check them by going into the BIOS.

Entering the BIOS

To enter the BIOS setup on your computer, you need to reboot the machine. During the startup process, the system will check memory and hardware and may display a splash screen on the monitor with instructions. Typically, pressing the "Delete" or "F1" key will allow you to enter the BIOS setup, but you may have a window of only a few seconds to issue the command depending on your computer's speed and configuration. If you miss it and Windows starts up, restart and try again.

Checking the Temperature

Once in the BIOS, look for an option in the menu containing words like "PC Health" or "Monitor." The exact terminology depends on your motherboard manufacturer, but you should be able to find the appropriate section easily. Once there, you may see information from a number of different monitors, including a CPU temperature monitor and a system temperature monitor. The CPU sensor is usually directly under the CPU, while the system monitor is elsewhere on the motherboard to give you an idea of the ambient heat level inside your PC.

Crashes and High Loads

Because you have to restart your computer to access the BIOS, checking the temperature in this manner may not give you an accurate picture of your heat problems. It does take time for excessive heat levels to dissipate, however, so if your system begins behaving erratically you may be able to reboot and catch an elevated temperature reading before everything cools down. If your system crashes suddenly under high load, such as that caused by a high-end computer game, checking the temperature on reboot can tell you if the shutdown occurred due to overheating.

Using a Temperature Monitor

If your system continues to have stability problems, you should download a hardware-monitoring program. These programs run inside Windows and give you real-time data about temperatures and fan speeds, not only from your motherboard but also from graphics cards and any other component with an associated monitor. This way you can monitor temperature fluctuations as you use your PC and spot temperature spikes that may warn of imminent hardware failure.

About the Author

Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.

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