The CPU is very much the brains of your computer. It stands for central processing unit. If your CPU becomes too hot - and this can happen for various reasons - it can negatively affect your computer in a number of ways, and could even cause damage to the processor itself. Your PC may become sluggish or slow when your CPU is under a heavy load, could perhaps even lock up or shut down altogether.

In Microsoft’s ultimate wisdom it decided that users didn’t need a CPU temperature readout in Windows - not even in Task Manager - although the information is readily available in the BIOS. But entering the BIOS is a hassle you don't need, so here's how to download a free program that will let you  easily check how hot your CPU is running.

Take a look at our AMD vs Intel debate on which company offers the best CPU for your needs.

How to check your CPU temperature

There are plenty of free apps, including SpeedFan, but we're using Core Temp here. Head over to the Core Temp website and hit the download button on the home page.

Just beware there is some bloatware in the installation, so be sure that you untick the correct box when prompted.

Once you finish the installation the program will start up and will display the temperature for your CPU and all the cores it may have, as below.

CPU Temp home screen

You'll want to keep the temperature lower than the Tj. Max value, which for our CPU here is 100C, but yours could be lower. Idle temperature should be around the values you see here - roughly 40-50C. But they could be lower if you have a good CPU cooler, or ambient temperatures are simply lower.

Some CPUs have dedicated apps, such as Ryzen Master for AMD's Ryzen range. You can download this if you have a Ryzen and it will display temperatures and allow you to tweak settings - such as overclocking - to make your CPU run faster. But beware that this voids warranty and can cause damage to the CPU.

How to Check CPU Temperature in Windows

You might also find your motherboard has an app that lets you control fan speeds and view temperatures - including the CPU. So have a look on the manufacturer's website and see if there's a utility to download.