Ah… well… it depends. When it comes to laptop hardware, graphics cards seem to get all the love. But did you know that the component most responsible for all the functions within a computer system is the CPU (central processing unit)? In one way, choosing a CPU for your laptop is easy. The faster the processor speed, the faster your laptop. Typically, this also means a higher priced laptop. Thanks to advances in technology making the processor chip more efficient, the newest CPUs are faster than ever. So then, is 1.8 GHz a good processor speed? Let’s find out.
What Does GHz Mean?
When shopping for a laptop, you’ll find its speed listed as a GHz (gigahertz) number in the spec sheet. This is specifically a reference to the speed of the CPU inside. But what does GHz mean?
Gigahertz is a measure of a CPU’s internal clock. And with every tick of the CPU’s clock, data is processed.
Therefore, the 1.8 GHz on a spec sheet means the CPU can process 1.8 billion instructions per second to carry out a task. Likewise, a 3.6 GHz processor means the laptop can process 3.6 billion instructions in one second. CPU processes include reading data and executing commands.
What Is a Good GHz Speed?
Generally, the higher the GHz, the better the CPU will perform. So, if you have two laptops with the same number of cores. And one has higher GHz than the other, the laptop with the higher GHz will be faster.
Of course, there are other aspects which should go into consideration when choosing a laptop that’ll determine the total usefulness of a CPU with a higher speed.
For example, if your choices come down to a laptop with a 3 GHz, quad-core processor. And in the other corner is a laptop with a 2 GHz, six-core processor. You could assume that the one with a 3 GHz CPU will be faster. But because they each have a different number of cores. They’re both going to process information differently. In other words, this scenario is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison.
In many cases, however, a higher GHz processor is almost always better if your laptop’s cooling system can handle it. Higher GHz means more work can be done, which also translates into higher power consumption. Even if the core counts are identical.
Which GHz Speed is Faster?
Is 1.8 GHz Fast?
A laptop with a 1.8 GHz processor is good and able to serve up decent performance. But it’s not fast per se. Some processors run at 3 GHz, and some better ones run at a whopping 5 GHz. If all three have the same number of cores and all else being equal. A side-by-side comparison will easily reveal that a 1.8 GHz processor isn’t fast.
A 1.8 GHz processor will have a single cycle in half a nanosecond, which is decent enough. But it’s only moderately fast. Most high-performance laptops nowadays have faster processors.
A 2.6 GHz CPU Must Be Faster Then
You’ll find a lot of 2.6 GHz laptops on the affordable side of the market. A 2.6 GHz processor runs 2.6 billion commands a second. That’s more than a 1.8 GHz processor. While that’s fast enough for everyday tasks. It’s still not fast enough for the best gaming or other workloads.
Is 1.6 GHz Enough for Gaming?
In modern processors, the number of cores is more vital to the performance of a CPU than the speed. In other words, you can have a CPU with moderate GHz. But extra cores will help it perform fast enough for gaming. While a 1.6 GHz processor may be suitable for mild gaming, however, there are some caveats.
For example, if your game of choice doesn’t support multi-cores. You won’t feel the performance benefits no matter how many cores are supporting the CPU. You’ll also likely need to tweak other components like the graphics card, the amount of available RAM and storage to get more of a performance hit from that 1.6 GHz processor.
If you want a gaming laptop, aim for a 2.6 GHz processor and higher. And consider the number of cores for better performance.
Is 3.6 GHz Fast?
Yes, a 3.6 GHz processor is suitable for most any task that requires high performance. It performs 3.6 billion commands in one second, making it ideal for most computing situations. However, some CPU-dependent games may need even more power.
Understanding Cores and Speed
The number of cores and the speed of a laptop have a somewhat complicated relationship. A lot of CPUs on the market now have multiple cores, which means each single CPU chip has at least two processor cores – this is how we derive the name dual-core.
So, for example, let’s say you’re comparing a gaming rig with two 2.5 GHz CPUs against a mobile workstation with a single 5 GHz chip. Assuming both have the same number of cores, you’ll get similar performance from both.
NOTE: The gaming rig with the multiprocessors will usually be faster than the single processor workstation due to having more than one CPU available. This is also holds true for RAM in an SLI configuration.
Of course, comparisons are limited. For example, it’s hard to decide which is better if you have a 3.6 GHz laptop with four processor cores and a 3.2 GHz laptop with six cores. In the end, it all depends on the activities you do. As well as the apps and programs you’re using.
NOTE: If you tend to run multiple programs at once or play games that require multi-core processors. You’ll need a laptop that has a CPU with multiple cores, regardless of its speed.
What’s the Average Processor Speed for a Laptop?
Good question! Current laptops on the market can range from 1.6 to 4.4 GHz. And some high-performance models have speeds up to 5 GHz.
In the past, 1.6 GHz was the average inactive state. That is the speed of the processor without speed boosting technologies, like Intel’s Turbo Boost. But nowadays, modern processors are manufactured to have lower power consumption, like Intel’s U-series processors. Consequently, this means the average speed of a laptop is lower.
The average laptop has a 2.6 to 3.5 GHz processor speed, depending on what you’re doing.
Generally, the speed shouldn’t matter much for the average user. The number of cores matters more in many cases, especially now that multi-core laptops are proliferating the market.
If you want to calculate the average GHz of a multi-core laptop. A neat way to figure it out is by dividing the number of processors by the number of cores. You’ll get an average that’s the closest thing to the real GHz.
What’s the Difference Between GHz and Memory Speed?
GHz refers to the processor’s speed, whereas memory speed (RAM speed) is the amount of time it takes RAM to receive a request from the processor. Then read and write the data, which is measured in MHz (megahertz).
RAM (Random Access Memory) is the hardware in a computer like a laptop used to store information until the device is turned off. This differs from storage devices like a solid-state drive which holds onto information, even without power going to the machine.
So, while we measure the processor by how many ‘billions’ of cycles it can finish in one second. Memory speed is measured by the ‘millions’ of cycles it can finish per second. Another name for this is the data transfer rate.
Both the CPU and RAM contribute to the overall speed of a laptop, but in different ways. If you want to upgrade one of them, you need to consider the other due to their direct relationship.
Which Speed is More Important: Processor or RAM?
In some sense the processor’s speed is a more essential consideration than memory speed. For one, the CPU isn’t called the brains of a computer for nothing. It’s responsible for many of a laptop’s processes.
Even if there’s an ample amount of RAM, if the laptop is only powered by a single-core 1.6 GHz CPU, for example. Performance will be excruciatingly slow.
Not only that, but the relationship between the CPU and RAM means that a slow performing CPU wouldn’t even be able to handle 8GB of memory.