Is running a PC at 100% CPU usage for 15 hours detrimental?

January 10, 2014
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My computer runs continuously for 15 to 20 hours, with the CPU usage at 100%. I use it for 3D rendering purposes.

Is this damaging or detrimental to my PC’s performance?

  1. Hovsep A
    January 10, 2014 at 8:43 am

    it is okay to run cpu at 100% full capacity, cpu has shutdown mechanism in case it become very hot. If your cooling systems aren't working and not suitable, heat will shorten the life of your cpu and cause more problems on computer this is more true for laptop. Appropriate cooling system that keeps temperatures in the middle region of the specification range will enable continuous usage of the cpu even at 100%. You can change your current cpu and have a better one.

  2. Dalsan M
    January 10, 2014 at 2:57 am

    It can reduce the life expectancy of the processor and other hardware if this continues on a constant basis. The bigger issue to keep an eye on is the temperature of the CPU, GPU, hard drive(s), RAM, and the computer case. If too high for too long, expect issues and possible failure to eventually occur sooner than later. As a warning, though, if the temperature is somewhat high, do not immediately turn off the computer as you want a period of cool down before it fully cools. Sudden temperature changes may cause more issues and headaches than you wish to have.

  3. Jan F
    January 10, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Running at full load for a prolonged time does put stress on certain components and may lead to an earlier end of life. That being said components are actually stress-tested before they go out on the market and should have a very long life as long as things stay within operating specifications.

    That is also the key in your case:
    As long as things (mostly temperatures) stay within safe range this usage shouldn't really matter. In most cases the critical components here are the graphics card and the power supply.

    Most stock coolers on graphics cards are adequate at best. If the GPU is running at full-load for several hours things heat up. For modern cards temperatures go beyond 80°C/170F. The core itself can usually handle that but often components close by don't and if the airflow isn't optimal within the computer case they might die prematurely.

    Although not mentioned intially the same applies to CPU's with stock coolers. Processors rarely die of heat ~ they actually (are supposed to) perform a thermal shutdown before bad things happen. One possible problem here is the power circuit on the motherboard which is usually right next to the CPU slot. When running at full load the power circuit on the board is already running warm and if the heat from the CPU doesn't "go away" properly those capacitors may die.

    Last but not least the power supply ~ unfortunately they rarely have the option to be monitored. The problem here is if the power supply is borderline for the system it will run hot and it does die fast - in my small form factor case (XPC) the power supply was barely able to handle the components and therefor died after just 2 years.

    My personal suggestion is to take a look at thermal monitoring software e.g. HWMonitor.
    http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
    If your system is constantly running hot (GPU around 85°C/185F, CPU around 60°C/140F) you should schedule regular breaks! You don't have to shutdown your system - actually you should leave it running so the fans can do their job. Just close everything that is putting a stress on it.

    Having a break isn't a bad thing anyway. You should make a 10 minute break every hour of screen work anyway.