Cool Off: Thermal Throttling, Performance, and Linux
Don't let things get too heated. Make sure your system is running smoothly, and avoid thermal throttling.
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We often talk about monitoring, and typically it’s application performance monitoring. However, a crucial aspect of maintaining strong performance is hardware related: thermal cooling management. Especially when your system is under load, you’ll notice rising CPU temperatures. Ever checked your CPU temp after (or during) a particularly intense bout of gaming or video encoding? Depending on your setup, you might occasionally suffer from thermal throttling.
My HP laptop outfitted with an AMD A10 typically runs cool, but when gaming I noticed unusually high CPU temps. I quickly invested in a cooling pad, which kept my barbarian romping through “Diablo 3” like a champ. I’m a big Linux user, having installed and tried several distributions to breathe life into ancient PCs. Xubuntu resurrected an aging Shuttle XPC, providing a substantial performance boost over Windows XP. Crunchbang saved me from chucking an Acer Aspire One netbook out the window (seriously, I could barely even boot into Windows 7).
While Linux distros typically use less system resources, and therefore offer better performance over Windows counterparts (don't get me wrong, I love my Windows laptop), it's still wise to monitor your system's health. Over at Opensource.com, David Both has a neat write up on thermal stress, and offers a few resources for Linux users. These range from a few commands, like sensors-detect and hddtemp, and even the super userful application GKrellM.
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