Build a computer for computer games is a fantastic pastime, but games require a lot from your computer. Therefore, there are three critical statistics you need to keep an eye on, including component temperatures, frame rates, and disk health.
Unlike consoles and some pre-built computers being tested and retested, you will not really know how well your computer is working until you start using it. For that reason, it is a good idea to understand whether your computer is getting too hot, which can damage all those brand new parts. In addition, as time goes on, components can break down and perform worse over time. If you keep an eye on these three critical factors, your computer will keep humming, warning you when it’s time to fix something that went wrong or replace a part.
Here are some tools to help you keep track of your computer and know when things are not working out as they should.
If there is one critical factor for your gaming computer, it has to be temperatures. When things get too hot, only bad ones follow. Your computer may start to struggle under load with stuttering, game accidents or whole system crashes. If your parts stay too hot for too long, they can also be damaged. Most of the time this will not happen because a system will often shut down before the heat goes too far.
Yet from time to time there are surprises. Problems with some early Nvidia GeForce RTX cards such as faulty solder joints, as well as power draw problems, were exposed while Amazon’s demanding MMO, New world. It is unclear if it is possible that some of those cards perished by keeping an eye on temps.
When it comes to games, there are two key components to monitoring for high temperatures: the CPU and the GPU. These two parts are the main drivers of heat in a computer case and are by far the most important to keep cool. In general, CPUs should stay safely below 80 degrees Celsius, while GPUs should be below 85 degrees Celsius, although this can vary greatly according to specific GPU model. The best thing to do is to check the manufacturer tolerances for your specific parts and then build in a safety margin below that number (say 10 degrees) as an ideal operating temperature. If you can not reach those temperatures, you should either reconsider your system cooling or your safety margin was a little too enthusiastic.
There are many ways to track these temps. If you want as little extra software as possible on your computer, Task Manager in Windows 11 and later versions of Windows 10 can help.
Open the Task Manager, click the Performance tab, and then scroll down in the left-hand navigation column to the GPU section. There you can see the temperature of your graphics card (or GPU on a laptop). If you click on it, it will also be displayed actively resource use graphs, as well as other key statistics below, including temperature.
The thing about monitoring GPU temperatures in Task Manager is that it is not very practical without a second monitor as you can not see what is going on while in the game. Still, as a quick way to look at what’s going on, it can be helpful.
For easier in-game monitoring AMD’s Radeon Software can display a consultation that includes all sorts of statistics, including CPU usage, GPU power consumption, and GPU temperature. Nvidia fans can get similar information by using the company’s GeForce experience, which also has a Performance Overlay feature. If you have an AMD graphics card with Radeon software installed and configured, you can enable the consultation with Ctrl + Shift + O, while Nvidia users can press Alt + R after installing and configuring GeForce Experience.
Many gamers also swear by MSI Afterburner’s Consultation, which is partnering with RivaTuner Statistics Server to deliver a very cute consultation that can show statistics like per-core usage for CPU, CPU and GPU temps, and even RAM usage. Be warned there are a lot of options for this consultation and you can definitely overdo the real-time stats.
To monitor CPU temperature, you can turn to Afterburner, but you may also want to monitor CPU heat outside the game. When this is the case, try something like Core Temp, a free program that shows per-core temperatures in the system tray, or other options such as HWMonitor and HWiNFO.
Another easy way to monitor CPU temperatures is to get a CPU liquid cooler with RGB lighting. These coolers can often be set up to display specific colors that reflect the CPU temperature, such as blue when things are cool and red when it gets too hot.
Once you have monitored your temperatures, the next thing to keep track of is frame rates. Check frame rates will tell you if you need to switch the graphics on that deadly AAA title from Ultra to High. It can also warn you of problems if your system struggles to reach the gold standard of 60 frames per second on a game where you would expect it to.
Monitoring frame rates is easy. As before, the overlays of AMD Radeon Software and Nvidia’s GeForce Experience may display the frame rates. Another popular choice is Fraps, which is a free program.
One last option we will mention is the built-in Xbox Game Bar, which has long ceased to be a simple bar. Now it’s a complete consultation, just like that of AMD and Nvidia, complete with a frame rate monitor. To activate the Game Bar, press Windows + G on your keyboard. then press the pen icon on the statistics window to display it while playing.
The final key statistic to monitor is health management. It’s more of a long term goal once your internal drive gets a little long in the tooth. Newer drives should not really require monitoring as they have not yet experienced any wear and tear. However, it can not hurt to monitor them, and you may actually discover a defect with a newer driver and take advantage of its warranty.
Disk health monitoring will require third-party software, as Windows does not provide an easy way to keep up with your drivers with a graphics program. A quick and easy way to monitor your ride is CrystalDiskInfo, which can show you information about the health status of your ride. Most drive manufacturers also offer their own drive health software such as Samsung wizard or Crucial Storage Executive.
Once you have your software up and running, the easiest thing to do is just to see if it reports a healthy ride or not. Once it starts reporting that the drive is not healthy, it’s time to start searching a newer drive.
You can also get more detailed by diving into the various features that CrystalDiskInfo reports, but if you do not want to get so detailed, it is not necessary. Just keep an eye on the disk from time to time to see the drive’s overall condition.
There are a lot of other statistics and settings to keep track of with a computer, but these three are some of the most important and will help you get the most out of your toy.