About nine months ago I complained that Windows lacks a tool for monitoring processor temperature and that it won’t warn you if your machine is getting too hot. Compare this with warnings about disk space and battery life in notebooks.
Since then I’ve found two programs which will offer to warn you if your machine is getting too hot, allowing you to quickly shut down or hibernate if you want to preserve your data (instead of having your computer cut out when the hardware tells it to).
The first is SpeedFan, whose primary use is the monitoring and controlling of fan speeds. It will, however, also let you view SMART data from your hard disk (which is a good way of telling if your hard disk is about to suffer imminent death) and altering the clock speed of your processor.
To set temperature warnings, run SpeedFan, and choose the Readings tab (the first one). Click Configure, and choose the Events tab. Here you can set warnings for one of the temperature monitors in your machine gets too high, and also if the performance of your hard disk is starting to get worrying. Under ‘If’, select a monitor (I chose ‘Local Temp’ on mine), then ‘>’ in the next box followed by ’65’. This means that I want the system to do something when the local temperature of my machine exceeds 65° celcius. Under ‘Then’, select ‘Popup Message’ and type ‘Local Temp has exceeded 65 degrees!’ or something, so that when your machine exceeds 65°C, you’ll get a popup message warning you of this fact.
SpeedFan won’t allow you to automatically shut down the computer, but you can have it execute a command when the temperature gets too high and when combined with a tool such as Wizmo you can shut the machine down or hibernate it, amongst other things.
Notebook Hardware Control
The tool I have found most recently is Notebook Hardware Control, formally known as Centrino Hardware Control but now available for a wider range of processors. Despite its name, it should work on some desktop machines too.
This tool offers many of the features of SpeedFan, but in a much nicer interface. It may not give you the level of control that SpeedFan provides, but for a more novice user the experience is much better. Temperature controls can be set on the Temp tab, and it defaults to warning you at 85°C and shutting down at 95°C. It can also initiate shutdowns when hard disk performance is becoming poor, and like SpeedFan allows you to set processor clock speeds and voltages, if your processor is supported.
Both tools do roughly the same thing but in different ways – some may prefer one way to another and so there’s a choice. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however, and I’m sure some of you can suggest others that do the job.