Forthe average desktop or laptop user, keeping track of the health of their CPUand GPU isn’t something that many put consideration towards. Most of us rely onour machine to properly cool and take care of itself through dynamic fanspeeds, offloading, and other such technology.
However,you’d be surprised what a quick peek at your hardware temperatures and usagenumbers reveal about the efficiency of your system. To share a personal story,I recently found out that the GPU in one of my desktops was running at nearly80°C while gaming – a temperature that will eventually cause harm over anextended period of time. Using vertical sync to cap my framerate provided aquick fix, and my GPU was cool again.
Thereare a lot of different types of software that you can use to monitor your CPUor GPU, but who wants to constantly check a separate window or dedicate largespace of a monitor to a bulky widget containing these statistics?
Ifyou’re a Windows user, there’s a solution: the system tray. Windows’ systemtray provides space for icons that can change dynamically, making it theperfect place to watch the important numbers under the hood of your system.Using MSI Afterburner, you can do just that.
Download MSI Afterburner
MSI Afterburner is the web’s top Windows software when it comes to overclocking your graphics card . It allows you to fine-tune how your graphics card and fans operate and is functional with all graphics card brands.
However,overclocking can be scary and dangerous, and that’s not what this article isabout. Rather than tinkering with your hardware and risk voiding the warranty,we’ll just be using MSI Afterburner as a way to show certain system statisticsin the system tray.
Thedownload for MSI Afterburner is a bit over 40 MB in size, compressed as a ZIParchive. The archive will contain a binary setup file that will allow you to installthe application on your system.
Startingthe application after installation is successful, you’re met with a userinterface that feels fresh out of the early 2000s. It’s a dashboard that showsyour GPU’s voltage, temperature, clock speeds, and more. From here, click onthe cog icon to access MSI Afterburner’s settings.
Hereis where we’ll begin tinkering with MSI Afterburner so we can get at-glancehardware statistics in our system tray.
Monitor CPU or GPU with MSI Afterburner
Thewindow you’re immediately met with upon accessing MSI Afterburner’s settingshas two important options you’ll want to make sure are enabled.
Belowthe name of your GPU, you’ll see checkboxes to allow MSI Afterburner to startwith Windows and minimized. If you’d like to be able to automatically monitoryour CPU or GPU on each reboot, be sure that these are ticked.
Next,navigate to the Monitoring tab ofthe settings window. Here, there are multiple settings that you’ll want tomodify and experiment with.
Underthe Active hardware monitoring graphsheading, you’ll see a long, scrolling list of graphs that MSI Afterburnersupports. These include, but are not limited to, your GPU’s temperature, usage,core clock, memory clock, power, and fan speed. There are also similar optionsfor your CPU.
Asyou can have multiple of these graphs enabled at a time, all of the settingsbelow this heading are unique to the currently selected graph. That being said,you’ll first need to click on which graph you’re interested in displaying inyour system tray.
Onceit’s highlighted, tick the Show in trayicon checkbox. You can show the icon as text or a bar graph, but I highlyrecommend using text – with a bar graph, the data becomes quite vague.
Youcan additionally change the color of the text, by clicking the red square, andyou can set up an alarm when the graph value is out of a specific range. Thelatter is great for alerting you when your video card may be preparing tooverheat.
Repeatthis same step for each graph you’re interested in tracking and you should beginto see these icons appear in your system tray.
Ifyou don’t see any expected icons, it could be that they’re being hidden as aninactive system tray icon. To fix this, you can right-click on the taskbar,click on Taskbar settings, scrolldown and click on Select which iconsappear in the taskbar, and set each of your icons to always show.
MSIAfterburner itself will also have an icon in your system tray (which looks likean airplane). If you don’t care about bringing up the visual dashboard, you canslim down on your system tray icons by going back into the settings, going tothe User Interface tab, and ticking Single tray icon mode. This won’tcombine all of your graphs into a single one, as the text suggests, but insteadjust remove the airplane icon.
That’sit! Just like that, if you’ve enabled the option for MSI Afterburner to startwith Windows, you’ll never again have to jump through hoops to see what yourGPU temperature, CPU usage, and so many other values are. All it takes is aquick glance at your system tray.