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system temperature monitorComputers are very reliable, except when they’re not. “The computer never makes any mistakes” — that’s true, for the most part. But dunk your smartphone in a glass of deliciously refreshing mint tea, and it will probably make a mistake or two (or, in other words, die). Dunking your phone in a glass of tea would be silly, of course, but letting your computer run too hot can be almost as damaging, if less visible.

Just as shorting a computer out will ruin it, making it run in temperatures it was never meant to take will cause it to malfunction. SpeedFan is a free system temperature monitor for Windows designed to help you keep a close eye on just how hot your computer is getting, down to the individual component level.

First Impressions: A Lean, Clean, Classic

This is not the first time we are reviewing SpeedFan: Guy covered it way back in 2009 How To Use SpeedFan to Remotely Monitor Computer Health How To Use SpeedFan to Remotely Monitor Computer Health Read More . You’ll be excited to hear that since then, SpeedFan has moved from version 4.37 all the way to 4.49, making huge strides in… well, nothing really. This tool is a classic, and it looks like one. It’s a case of not fixing what isn’t broken, and the interface shows few changes relative to four years ago.

An application’s installer can speak volumes of its simplicity and polish. The worst offenders bundle browser toolbars and other junk trying to make a buck, while bloated behemoths often force you to run through a complicated multi-step process. SpeedFan’s installer keeps things simple and has only two steps, with absolutely no junk in the process:

system temperature monitor

The only caveat to using SpeedFan is that it does require Administrator access to work properly.

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Tabs and Numbers

Launch SpeedFan, and you’ll find an interface that makes almost no effort to make things simple. This tool is all about the numbers:

system monitor

Breaking the wealth of information down to six tabs is a welcome concession to usability. Even so, the Readings tab is packed full of information, along with very few explanations. You can see system temperatures at a glance: Turns out my computer reports no less than nine separate readings, some cryptically labeled as Temp1, Temp2, and Temp3 — and then there’s Temp1 and Temp2 yet again, with different numbers. Others are clearer, though: I do have a discrete GPU (I use a desktop workstation), so seeing its temperature right off the bat is nice. Due to the cryptic labels, this screen is mostly useful for understanding if anything is amiss. You may not know what Temp2 is about, but if it’s at 70C, that’s probably a cause for concern.

Exotics: What a Tab!

I had to show this tab just because of its name. I mean, really, who can resist clicking a tab called Exotics?

At first, the Exotics tab is tantalizingly blank, save for a button labeled Show the magic coupled with a Beta warning. All of this buildup only makes its eventual output somewhat of a letdown:

system monitor

This thoroughly anticlimactic screen carries some useful data formatted into exciting rectangles. It starts out with the same temp readings we’ve seen on the prosaically-labeled Readings tab, but continues to display hard-drive S.M.A.R.T ratings (HD0 and HD1), as well as the utilization of each CPU core, the CPU’s master clock frequency, and the system’s uptime.

S.M.A.R.T: All About Your Drives

You didn’t really think SpeedFan was going to limit itself to just a single number concerning your hard drive, did you? Just click the S.M.A.R.T tab to see more information than you’ve ever wanted to know about your hard drive(s):

system monitor

You can see the make, model, and firmware of the drive, followed by a list of S.M.A.R.T performance and health readings. Some of these prove too much even for SpeedFan, hence the “Unknown Attribute” labels. In other words, “here are some numbers, but we’re not sure what they mean.” To be fair, this is an SSD. When analyzing my other drive, a magnetic HDD, it did better:

speedfan system temp

Some of these metrics are cryptically named, but you can always search for their meanings online. The icons next to some of the entries offer at-a-glance health indicators: They’re all OK in my case.

Charts

Last but not least comes the Charts tab. It’s not as excitingly named as Exotics, but it does offer a more visual treat: 

system temperature monitor

These are not as nicely formatted as the Resource Monitor Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Taking A Closer Look At Windows Resource Monitor Read More or Reliability Monitor What Is the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor And How to Get The Most Out Of It What Is the Windows 7 Reliability Monitor And How to Get The Most Out Of It Embedded into Windows 7 is a useful reliability monitor that lets you not only visualize the current reliability level of your computer, but you can also see a historic log of how reliable your computer... Read More built into Windows, but they are quite descriptive, and you can switch metrics on and off as you wish. One feature that’s missing is a way to export the data into a CSV file for graphing outside of SpeedFan.

Final Thoughts: A Tool To Keep In Mind

The SpeedFan system temperature monitor is not exciting. That’s not a bad thing, though: Sometimes we need a tool that’s just useful, rather than thrilling. It’s certainly established in its field, and is good enough to make it into our coveted list of the Best Windows Software under the eclectic Other category. You may not use it every day, but next time your computer starts acting weird and you can’t figure it out using the tools built into Windows, this is one tool you can try.

  1. Dave Thomas
    May 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Quit responding constantly in Windows 7. Uninstalled it.

  2. LaMuse
    May 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    This looks like a great program -- my lapdog frequently overheats so would be great to monitor that.

    However, was looking at the disclaimer on the SpeedFan site and while it's written kind of cheeky, could the program potentially cause problems as hinted at in the last sentence? What behavior would you need to watch?

    Disclaimer: "This program is aimed at the power user. At those who know what they're doing. I've known of no real problem caused by SpeedFan, but may be it's due to the fact that once it made the PC explode and the user disappeared in the blast, thus being unable to report :-) Anyway: SpeedFan can be extremely useful, but you should first watch its behavior before setting and forgetting it."

    • Erez Zukerman
      May 13, 2013 at 7:01 am

      As long as you use SpeedFan only to monitor information (as described above) without making any changes to settings, I really can't see how it can cause any trouble. After all, you're not changing anything -- just looking at how the system already performs, just as it would without the software.

  3. David Moreira
    May 11, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Too bad you can't overclock the fans with this.

    • Erez Zukerman
      May 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

      I would imagine overclocking a fan can't be too healthy for it, though...

    • null
      May 14, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      Lol what? If anything you want to use this program for fans to make fans less noisy as it features automatic fan control which you can use to control spin fan faster as temperature raises, the only bad thing about it is that default "burning" temperature is 50°C and you can't change it. Speedfan will always spin fan on 100% once it reaches 50°C

  4. Yang Yang Li
    May 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I need a program that can control PWN fans directly. My stupid labtop turns the fan off once temperatures rise over 60C which immediately skyrockets the temperature to over 100C.

  5. Guy McDowell
    May 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I love that you can get alarms e-mailed to you. If you're a tech support guy, it can make a lot of your service pre-emptive which is always less expensive to the user. If you use this tool in your business, I recommend tipping the developer some coin for his excellent efforts.

  6. Rama moorthy
    May 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    1133 rpm is your maximum speed ...? mine is ~5K rpm ..

  7. bben46
    May 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I've been using this one and recommending it for years. Get it - it's as easy as this kind of program gets. It doesn't bog you down with a lot of info all at once, but all of the relevant info is there on the tabs - It gives a lot of info, and it's FREE!

  8. Scott M
    May 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I've been using it since it was first recommended on the site.Its a great program for me to find out how my unit is performing.When I first installed it I noticed right away that I needed a new power supply.Its over kill for me with most of the info available but for someone with the right skill set I think they will find it very useful.For myself its very handy as a reminder to clean my computer and fan of dust if I see temps rising.

  9. Doc
    May 11, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Thanks for the update! The last version I'd downloaded was 4.44, two years ago.

  10. Kenny Brannan
    May 11, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Shame can't get it working in Linux

    • null
      May 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm

      Its because it can't look at host system, but the system you are emulating - windows.

  11. sakthi vel
    May 11, 2013 at 3:43 am

    Good one!!!

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