Monitor computer temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds with HWMonitor

When you exercise, your bodies burns calories and you feel hot; you start sweating. The laws of physics (chemistry? biology? who cares…) don’t apply just to you – they apply to your computer, too.

When you use computer the internal components generate heat as a result of the “exercise” you put them through. This heat, of course, needs to be dealt with otherwise your computer will overheat. Overheating is bad because it can cause permanent damage to your hardware. (Most modern computers will force shutdown before that happens, though.)

To help manage this heat, all computers have cooling mechanisms such as fans, heat sinks, etc. Because of their larger size, desktops typically don’t have a overheating problem – there is enough space to add extra cooling systems and increase fan sizes as need, and air flow is not restricted (as much). If a desktop is overheating, 9/10 times there is some hardware defect. Laptops, on the other hand, are known to overheat because of their restricted air flow and weaker cooling systems thanks to their compact size.

To deal with the previously mentioned overheating issue, it is always a good idea to monitor hardware temperatures. Although there is no rule that says you cannot do it on desktops, typically monitoring hardware temperatures is for laptops because, as I already mentioned, desktops usually don’t have overheating issues. This is were HWMonitor comes in.

HWMonitor (which creatively stands for hardware monitor) is a very simple program that displays computer temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds; it shows the current, minimum, and maximum values for each data type. Exactly what type of information HWMonitor will provide you depends on your computer hardware. For example, on my laptop HWMonitor shows the temperatures for my motherboard, CPU, hard drive, and GPU (graphics card); it also displays the voltage for my GPU:

On another computer (the developer’s computer, I presume, because the following screenshot is from HWMonitor’s homepage) HWMonitor is able to display much more detailed information:

As you can see for Franck’s PC HWMonitor shows information that is not available for my laptop, such as CPU voltages and fan speeds.

Although there is a large variance from computer to computer in regards to what type of information HWMonitor will be able to display, all modern computers have temperature sensors on their main components (motherboard, CPU, GPU, and hard drive) so everyone should atleast be able to glean temperature information out of HWMonitor. The following is an list displaying exactly what hardware is supported by HWMonitor:

Aside from displaying the current, minimum, and maximum temperate/voltage/fan speed values, HWMonitor doesn’t do much else. On one hand I find myself wishing HWMonitor had some other features such as being able to display a warning when temperatures get too high, having floating widget support, and being able to minimize into the system tray; indeed just being able to run as a normal window an be annoying sometimes. However, the simplicity of HWMonitor does payoff in regards to computer resource usage: HWMonitor uses about 5 MB while running and little to no CPU. Not too shabby.

It should be noted, though, there is a Pro version of HWMonitor (€19.95) that has more features, for those people looking for a little bit more functionality:

  • Remote Monitoring
    • Watch the sensors of one or several distant PCs through a simple TCP/IP connection.
  • Graph Generator
    • Save monitoring data and generate logging graphs as bitmap files.
  • Improved Interface
    • Sensors in system tray, editable sensors labels….
  • PWM Control
    • Fan PWM control (for ESA compliant devices).

I haven’t tried the Pro version myself but the improved interface sounds interesting depending on how the sensors in the system tray work.

Last but not least, HWMonitor comes in installer and portable versions. The installer version comes bundled with Ask Toolbar, so watch out for that if you grab the installer:

You can download HWMonitor from the following links:

Version reviewed: v1.17.0

Supported OS: Windows 98 and higher

Download size: 499 KB – 3.4 MB depending on what version you get

Price: $0 with an optional upgrade to Pro for €19.95

HWMonitor homepage

[Direct download - installer (32-bit and 64-bit)]

[Direct download - portable 32-bit version]

[Direct download - portable 64-bit version]

[Direct download - portable Windows 98 version]

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24 comments

  1. TechLogon

    Mileage varies depending on what sensors your computer has but I like HWMonitor for its clear display of temps and voltages – that’s all it does but it does it well.

    The newest version of Speccy (available as a portable version from Piriform) provides the same data on my computer but it is spread on different tabs e.g. cpu/motherboard/graphics with a lot more detailed system info (combines what cpu-z and gpu-z provide). As an all in one info tool Speccy wins out but HWMonitor is easier to see temps and is quicker to load up.

  2. Mr.Dave

    @Gioneo:
    Gioneo, thanks. I’m using SIW (System Information for Windows) right now, it shows my GPU temp at 59C (that’s 138F), and my four CPU cores range from 26C to 36C since I turned on my PC an hour ago. My two internal hard drives are at 29C and 39C. Obviously the scariest number is for the GPU, an Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT. I’ve never found anything that says what a reasonable operating temperature is for any of these. I specifically asked Dell and they could only give me the external operating temperature (i.e., room temperature), I seriously don’t think they knew the difference.

    Very nice that ASUS supports monitoring and exception reporting, would be great if the others would pick up on that! There may be another ASUS board in my future.

  3. Gioneo

    @ Mr.Dave:

    The Asus PC Probe II does this. It runs in the background and alerts you of any problems with your components (fan, cpu, temp, voltage etc…).
    Drawback you need and asus board. If you do you’re golden.
    Now as far as the temp range, it will depend on your hardware and room temperature. CPU wise, range would be in celsius between 30 and 60. Of course if you’re overclocking your cpu temp could reach the 80′s.
    System temp (inside the case) will be between 20 and 50 depending on how your case type, number of fans and setup, and also room temperature.

    Again all this will depend on your hardware so it will be kind of difficult to say what exact temperature is good or bad. I guess for an average cpu, going over 60 under stress is bad…

  4. Mr.Dave

    I’ve got several programs that tell me temperatures, this looks like a good one as well…. But what is a good temperature or a bad temperature? I’ve never been able to find out what range is expected for my PC.

    If the idea is that you need to record temperatures many times a day over a period of weeks to understand the range, and then check temperatures several times a day to see if you’re getting into trouble, well that’s a lot like process monitoring, something most manufacturing companies do.

    They use SPC – Statistical Process Control and watch for several kinds of events and trends. Does anyone know of any temperature monitoring software that will do this while running in the system tray, that will pop up and warn me when it detects an issue? Otherwise I don’t see the point.

  5. alan

    @Rob (Down Under):
    Full agreement here.

    If something needs installation and I like what it promises I will spend ages searching for a Portable equivalent.

    I have 3 GB of small footprint non-bloated portable tools and applications in a non-system partition.
    Had I taken the “easy way” of mainstream products (e.g. Adobe and Microsoft Office) it would :-
    be an extra 30 GB in the system partition which will both suffer and also cause extra fragmentation on the system partition;
    and not survive the inevitable periodic self destruction when a Windows security update goes wrong ! !

    Alan

  6. vyverjet

    The differentiation between Speccy : http://www.piriform.com/ and CPUID HardWare Monitor is quite stark!

    The motherboard specs. in Speccy are so well detailed (Intel DG 35EC Classic series-mine of course) that compatible drivers can be downloaded ,just based on that info’, whereas in CPUID, it just mentions Intel DG 3….!
    It’s a thumbs up for CPUID that the internal temp. are similarly displayed in both software!
    SYS Inspector freeware from ESET is another top-notch ,just to tidy things up (info’ wise)!
    Regards and a Joy-filled and safe 2011 to all!
    vyverjet.

  7. Jaap

    @Rob (Down Under): and @ Toast: It depends on the hardware that is in your computer wether you should use Speccy or HW Monitor.
    My graphics card is ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT. Hardware Monitor tells me the temperature of that card, Speccy does not!
    But Speccy gives more information, for instance about your installed RAM. So I use both. And of course, there are tons of such software. I mention: CPU-Z, GPU-Z, SIW, PC Wizard 2010, Everest…

  8. Rob (Down Under)

    blue,
    Gave it a try, and it says my processor is not supported.
    But I will keep it in case I get a more recent PC.
    It did not require installing, so no harm done.

    By the way, am I the only one who is interested in knowing when programs do NOT require installing ?

  9. blue

    CoreTemp works flawlessly for me. The latest offers a Windows 7 taskbar thingee (not too helpful) and a gadget (more helpful) in addition to the tray display (still the most helpful). (Free, btw).

    http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/

    The reason, #2, for wanting to know is that temperature can tell you all kinds of things, including virus infections and whether you need to clean the inside of your machine. My temp slowly climbed from a low of 20C to 50C and when I cleaned it, it dropped back down. Another time, it consistently jumped to the 40′s – 50′s; all of a sudden. Turns out I had a malware infection.

  10. Rob (Down Under)

    Troll,
    Must be my 2003 manufacture date.

    Others,
    Those that are interested in Speccy, I believe it is Freeware (mine was)
    The download page has a Buy button, but below it there are a couple of links (FileHippo, etc) which I believe are still free.

  11. Rob (Down Under)

    I am wavering on downloading it, as it need installing.
    Speccy gives CPU and Drive Temps (and Tons of other info).
    Would I gain much from this ?

    I just checked, and Speccy does not give you CPU temp.
    But I wonder what good that info would be anyway, apart from telling you whether you can fry an egg on it ?

  12. Locutus

    Ha! Just today I was thinking “what should I write for dotTech? I need to have several articles done soon!” This was one of the first things I thought about writing about, but I decided not to because you’d already given it a passing glance. Now I know I made the right call :P