Can You Turn On PC Without CPU Cooler?

Information guide about processor and CPU cooler

CPU Cooler is the most important hardware in a PC used to dissipate the heat produced by your processor. Without a CPU cooler, it would be hard for your processor to last more than a couple of minutes. But if you turn on your PC without a CPU cooler? How long would your processor survive without a CPU cooler? We’ll answer all of this in detail here in this guide.

Yes, you can run your PC without a CPU cooler as long as there is no workload and you have a processor with fewer cores. But even without any workload, the processor will get hot enough without proper cooling. Finally, your CPU will reduce its clock speed in order to lower the temperature (Power Limit Throttling). The temperature on your CPU will keep rising to a point where it may end up frying itself.

Therefore, if you are just running your PC without a proper heatsink or CPU cooler for the sake of troubleshooting, then you can go for it. But don’t expect to run it for a longer time or else you will permanently damage your processor.

What Happens When You Turn ON Your PC Without a Heatsink or Cooler?

As we know that the basic role of a CPU cooler is to dissipate the massive heat produced by your processor. Back in the 90s, we only had heatsinks on the top of a processor to cool it down. But as the processor became more powerful, the heatsink wasn’t enough to handle the enormous amount of heat produced by a processor. So for efficient cooling, CPU coolers were mounted at the top to dissipate the heat sucked by the heatsink.

Like we’ve said earlier, you can run a PC without a CPU cooler, but after a few minutes, you’ll see your CPU lowering its performance in order to produce less heat. Generally, the CPU will decrease the clock speed with the rising temperature. This overall process is known as Power Limit Throttling, a process in which the CPU lower downs its performance to produce less heat.

Modern-day processors have this built-in mechanism to shut down your computer or restart it in order to prevent any further damage. Also, some motherboards won’t even turn on if you haven’t properly installed the CPU cooler.

A brief video showing the rising temperatures when running a PC without a proper cooling mechanism
RELATED: How to Fix CPU Over Temperature Error?

Limits of Running a PC Without CPU Cooler

If somehow you’ve planned to test your PC without a CPU cooler, then bear in mind some limitations:

  • Never run an overclocked processor without a CPU cooler, by doing so, you’ll burn your processor.
  • Even if you are testing your CPU without a heatsink or stock cooler, it’s better to not leave it for more than 5 minutes.
  • Older CPUs as compared to Modern ones don’t have the self-shutdown or thermal throttling technology to lower their performance, therefore, we highly advise you not to do this if you have several years old processor.

When troubleshooting your computer, you can test your CPU without any cooling mechanism. However, there are some limitations to knowing before going any further. To be honest, we’ll never advise you to do this unless you have enough knowledge about how different parts of a PC work. To be on the safe side, always mount your CPU cooler and then turn on the computer.

  • Robert Milakovic

    Robert, based in Osijek, Croatia, is a co-founder of Incomera, a media company that has launched several entertainment sites including Fiction Horizon, Game Horizon, and Anime Horizon. He's also a co-owner of Computer Zilla, Comic Basics, and Voice Film. Since an early age, he wa...