Typically, CPU overheating occurs when your cooling system isn’t enough to keep the heat off of the processor. This is because you’re doing something really processor-intensive, such as playing 3D games or rendering video.

It can also happen if your heatsink gets gummed up with dust. Dust reduces the cooling efficiency of the heatsink and traps exhaust heat. As a result, your CPU can’t get rid of excess heat and can overheat from performing the simplest of tasks.

When a CPU overheats, one of two things will happen. First, the processor may reduce its own power in order to alleviate the stress put on it. This is called “throttling,” and you’ll notice “jittery” game or video performances as a result. Second, the processor may go too far and either cause a bluescreen or a hard crash.

How Can I Check My CPU Temperature?

Checking your CPU’s temperature is very easy. If you’re using Windows, Speccy is a great diagnostics tool that tells you everything about your PC — including the CPU temperature.

Mac users can grab Fanny, which doesn’t go into as much detail as Speccy, but sits as a widget in your notification center for easy access to your CPU and fan stats.

Linux fans can check their CPU temperature using the psensor tool.