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What is Thermal Throttling? Does it impact your PC’s performance?

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  • 3 min read

We’ve all experienced our gadgets heating up during heavy usage. It could be your phone after a little bit of heavy gaming or your laptop when you’ve been running it under stress; all electronics produce heat even under regular use.

Another thing that you may have noticed is a drop in performance when your PC is running too hot. This is called thermal throttling, and it plays a vital role in your hardware not melting itself down under heavy load.

In this article, we’re talking about thermal throttling and how it can impact PC performance.

Also read: How well do external cooling solutions work for laptops?

What is Thermal Throttling?

Simply pul, thermal throttling is a practice enforced to protect your PC’s hardware under heavy stress. When your PC is under intense loads, and the hardware is running too hot, performance is limited to keep temperatures under check to literally prevent the internals from melting down and causing permanent damage.

Fanless devices are more susceptible to overheating as there’s nothing inside to keep the internals cool. This is why most high-performance gaming laptops come with a beefy cooling system to keep internal temperatures in check. On the contrary, most ultrabooks don’t have extremely high-performance CPU and GPU combinations as they’ll produce a lot of heat for the laptop’s body to dissipate under heavy loads.

Using an external cooling pad can help counteract some thermal throttling on your machine.

You can use something like MSI’s Afterburner program to find out when and at what temperatures your PC starts to experience thermal throttling. Apart from laptops, other small form factor devices such as smartphones and tablets also face thermal throttling issues due to their fanless designs.

Most fanless machines rely on passive cooling and outside temperature to help keep temperatures in check. While this approach works fine for light tasks, even moderately heavy loads can sometimes cause problems, triggering thermal throttling and hampering performance.

How does it impact performance?

Your PC internals, especially the CPU and the GPU, can only sustain optimal performance at a specific temperature. This is where a good cooling system comes in handy to ensure that the components don’t exceed a specific temperature and are protected from physical damage.

Throttling in this context implies the drop in performance your CPU or GPU will experience. If your PC is getting too hot, you might find the OS and UI in some programs a bit laggy. High GPU temperatures will impact your in-game FPS as well. Some signs of severe overheating include random crashes and restarts, screen distortion or weird artefacts.

Also read: How to make a Bluetooth speaker louder? 

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: