How Many CPU Threads Do I Have? How to Check

How Many CPU Threads Do I Have

Threads are a sequence of instructions used by software (and hardware) to function. A single processor core can have up to two threads thanks to virtualization. These virtual cores are what allow a quad-core processor to work as if it has eight cores, provided the program, app or software you’re using is designed to take advantage of additional cores. This may lead you to wonder, “How many CPU threads do I have?” You can find out by using built-in Windows services and tools like Task Manger and System Information. Or by referencing manufacturer spec sheets and using third-party apps.

Figuring Out How Many CPU Threads You Have

Now, let’s explore four different methods for finding out how many cores your CPU has by using Windows built-in tools and services, along with third-party software and manufacturer websites.

Method 1: Task Manager

For a Windows operating system, this is the easiest method to find out how many threads your CPU has. Using Task Manage will also give you other information about your processor, including model, information about cache memory and clock speed.

STEP 1: Open Task Manager.

You can open the Task Manager in one of two ways in Windows 10:

Method 1: Press CTRL+ALT-DELETE.

Method 2: Right click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager.

STEP 2: Then click the Performance tab.

STEP 3: Select the CPU tab on the left.

The number of threads will be referred to as “Logical Processors.” The number of logical processors = number of threads. Don’t confuse this with the section marked Threads. That just tells you the number of program threads or codes your laptop is currently running. Not the number of threads your CPU has.

Method 2: System Information Tool

This is another fine tool that comes as a part of the Windows package that’s perfect for finding how many threads your CPU has.

To access it:

First: Type System Information in the search bar beside the Windows icon and select the app.

Second: Look for the processor field which will give you a lot of information in an organized table.

Third: Then look for the Processor field. The number of Logical Processors should be outlined, which is the number of threads in your CPU.

Method 3: Manufacturer Websites

For this to work, you’ll need to know the exact model of the CPU in your laptop. Chip manufacturers like Intel usually have a listing of their CPU models, along with their specifications online.

Once you know the make and model of the CPU in your laptop, put that information into your favorite search engine. And within seconds you’ll be looking at the manufacturer’s website where you can find the exact CPU model with everything you ever wanted to know about it.

Method 4: Third Party Software

If you want every bit of detail about your CPU, then a third-party tool like CPU-Z and HWInfo will be instrumental. They’re free comprehensive tools but you need to download and install them on your laptop before they’re ready for use.

Why do you get so much information with these tools? Because they’re generally designed for professionals and experts in computing fields.

Why Does the Number of CPU Threads Matter?

Threads are a series of code given to the CPU from applications, programs and even hardware to process data. Threads act like processor cores. But they’re not physical cores, which is why they’re called virtual cores or logical processors.

Due to the number of cores, newer processors have more threads, enabling the CPU to do more work. The higher the number of threads, the better the CPU performs.

Each core in a CPU has at least one thread. CPUs with multithreading technology, like Intel’s hyperthreading and AMD’s Clustered Multi-Threading (CMT) have at least two threads per core.

What Does Multi-Threading Do?

Multi-threading is when the CPU can process more than one sequence of code per available core. The number of threads a CPU has is one of the more useful ways to determine its multicore performance. It’s an incredible feature to have for activities, like multitasking, encoding, running simulations, data science and video rendering.

Gaming too! Although most games are single-threaded, an area where an activity like gaming is well served by a multithreaded CPU is if you use streaming services that run in the background while gaming.

Not all activities benefit from a high thread count, though. Designing using CAD software and digital sculpting with programs like Blender aren’t designed to take advantage of multithreaded capabilities.

A Real-World Example

Intel’s Core i5-11600K processor comes equipped with six cores and the company’s hyperthreading technology. It essentially means that each core can handle 2 threads of data, simultaneously.

So, a laptop with a six-core CPU has twelve threads total. If we peaked into the laptop’s Task Manager. We’ll find twelve logical processors, which means that the laptop has twelve CPU threads.

But if there’s only one thread per core, then the CPU isn’t enabled with multithreading. And you’ll only see six physical cores and six logical processors in the Task Manager.

The Number of Threads Can Tell You the Age of the Laptop

You can also use the number of threads to get an indication of the age of the hardware. Processors with two cores and two threads are outdated and struggle with most of today’s programs. Old processors with two cores and threads threads are also outdated. Although a higher number of physical cores will carry their own weight in more demanding programs.

On the other hand, the latest CPUs with two cores and four threads can utilize newer technology and work more efficiently. You can find these processors in your average modern laptop.

We consider processors with four cores and eight threads to be the sweet spot in terms of performance. Not only do they have four physical cores. But they also have double the number of threads for extra work performance.

So, as a rule of thumb. If your PC has less than four threads. It may be time to start looking for a new CPU. If it has six threads or more, you probably have pretty decent hardware that can run most programs.

Is the Number of Threads Always Double the Number of Cores?

Well, the short answer is no. Although, that’s almost always the case nowadays.

Back in the day, CPUs came with only one physical core. Each core was able to process data one thread at a time. This meant that the higher the CPU clock speed, the faster your CPU.

Later, multi-threading technologies, like Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) was invented, and it changed everything! SMT enables the processor to run two threads as one thread. In simple terms, each core can execute two threads at the same time. So, a dual-core processor with two physical cores can work like four logical processors.

Again, if you’re using Intel’s processors, this technology is called, “Hyperthreading.” If you’re using AMD’s processors, it’s called Clustered Multi-Threading (CMT). The principle remains the same in either scenario.

If you’re purchased a used laptop, there are a few reasons why your cores can have an identical number of logical processors when you look in the Task Manager. The first, of course, is older technology. An old laptop will likely have an older generation CPU which can’t run threads simultaneously. Again, you can refer to the processor’s product page for more information.

Second, some tech-savvies purposely disable their multithreading technology in the BIOS, which results in the number of physical cores matching the number of logical processors. This leads us to an important question.

Will a Higher Number of CPU Threads Always Translate to Better Performance?

Generally speaking, yes. The more elements present on your screen, the more threads will be assigned by the operating system to the CPU.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Again, some applications simply don’t support multi-threaded processing. If you open Notepad on your laptop, for example. Performance will be the same because this is a single-threaded program. Notepad will still behave the same with two equally performing CPUs that have different numbers of logical processors.

Another example of this is Google Chrome. Before the software was updated to be multi-threaded, it used to take several minutes to load 20 tabs on your screen. Now, you can load over 100 tabs on your screen in just a few seconds and have them all functional.

That’s because it’s able to take advantage of your CPU’s multithreaded technology – it can now intelligently divide its workload better.

Hyperthreading ON vs Hyperthreading OFF

We can all agree that a hyperthreaded laptop will run more efficiently than a non-hyperthreaded laptop. For most programs, having hyperthreading enabled will have tremendous advantages, performance-wise.

That said, some programs can be negatively impacted by hyperthreading. If you’re into gaming, a lot of games score higher minimum frames per second (FPS) with hyperthreading turned off. Since hyperthreading wasn’t made to be utilized by video games. The effect of hyperthreading becomes negligible. And sometimes even worsens performance.

But if you edit pictures, export videos, render code or do any activity that includes various tasks running at the same time. Hyperthreading is a must!

Finally, if you plan to overclock your processor, which you probably shouldn’t. Stay clear of hyperthreading. You’ll reach faster clock speeds with a lower number of virtual cores.

Are CPU Threads the Decisive Factor in Performance?

No, not at all. If you want to compare processors. There’s only one correct way to do so: lookup benchmarks and determine which processor runs your favorite program faster.

Theoretically, you could have a CPU with a high number of threads that uses outdated architecture and operates at a low clock speed. In this case, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to opt for the latest and greatest processor.

Again, CPU threads give you better insight into the technology offered inside the processor chip. If they’re double the number of the physical cores, then your processor utilizes multithreading. This means it can process data at stable speeds and makes workloads like rendering in Blender, video editing, and heavy multitasking significantly faster.

On the other hand, CPU threads won’t be a decisive factor in performance if the processes are consecutive, like computational math equations. Again, in these specific cases. Multithreading means you end up with decreased performance.

Conclusion

We’re not going to lie you to you. Unless you’re hip to computer technology, this stuff gets pretty confusing. But a modern CPU is equipped with two or more cores. Each core acts like an individual CPU. Multithreading allows each core to create two more cores in what’s known as multithreading through the virtualization of cores. This is why on a spec sheet you’ll see the description of the processor read something like: 2 cores, 4 threads. Or 4 cores, 8 threads. Multithreading allows a single CPU to do more work. But only if the software or app your using is designed to take advantage of the technology.