A CPU speed between 3.5 and 4.2 GHz will support most functions, including demanding high-end games. Since the CPU is the brain of a computer the speed can tell you a lot about the performance of a laptop. Every year processor manufacturers introduce the market to tweaks in the CPU manufacturing process which improve things like reliability, efficiency and speed. CPU speed is just one of a processor’s key specifications when it comes to performance, though. But this factor has a major impact on how quickly programs will load and how smoothly they’ll run. Keep reading to find out more about what CPU speed means.
What is Clock Speed?
A more familiar name for CPU speed is Clock Speed. Clock Speed is a reference to the number of clock cycles it takes the CPU to execute instructions per second. You’ll find it measured in MHz (megahertz). Or more commonly these days, GHz (gigahertz) on a laptop spec sheet.
For example, a 3.5GHz CPU can perform 3.5 billion cycles in a single second. A faster 4.5GHz CPU will be faster. But it will also use more power, which translates to more heat generated within the computer system.
A system clock is a small quartz crystal circuit that generates electrical signals at a fast speed. Therefore, the CPU speed refers to the time it takes the CPU to execute a single instruction, calculated by counting the ticks of the crystal circuit.
This system clock controls the timing of all the operations the laptop is running. It generates regular electric pulses or ticks to set the operating pace of your laptop. Not to put too fine a point on this. But one GHz means that the CPU can generate a billion ticks per second.
What’s the Difference Between CPU Cores and CPU Speed?
Processor cores and CPU speed are two different factors that both affect the performance of the CPU. A processor core receives instructions from a single computing task and works with the clock speed to process the information and store it in RAM.
The reason why the CPU is considered the brain of a computer is because of its enormous responsibility within a computer system – It’s the single piece of hardware most responsible for interpreting all the data from several programs and applications along with any requests you make.
Not to mention any information from peripherals connected to the computer system, like a printer or mouse. Both the CPU cores and clock speed work to determine how much information can be processed at a time.
Multiple cores in a CPU unit guarantee better performance by helping the processor perform several tasks at one time. Again, the “speed” refers to how fast the processor can retrieve and interpret the instructions to complete desired tasks.
For most browsing and low-demand tasks, a dual-core processor might be enough. However, activities like gaming require at least a quad-core processor and a fast enough CPU speed to work with components like a dedicated graphics card and audio for smooth performance. Many high-end CPUs now offer up to six cores for seamless functionality.
Many mainstream laptops have slower CPUs. But they’re fast enough to run most tasks. However, if you’re interested in high-speed performance, look for laptops with CPUs that offer at least quad cores.
Other Factors that Affect CPU Performance
In addition to the CPU speed, there are several factors that affect CPU performance.
A CPU contains many registers. This is where instructions and data are stored on the CPU before they’re processed by the cores. The amount of data stored on the registers is called, “word size.” The word size is affected by the size of the registers.
A bigger register size boosts the performance of the CPU because it will be able to handle more data at a time. The register size is measured in bits. A processor with a 32-bit register can handle 4GB of RAM.
A bigger memory size will support more instructions and can run more complicated programs. Investing in a laptop with plenty of RAM is essential if you’re interested in activities like gaming or high-demand editing programs. Without enough space on RAM, you’ll experience a lot of lag and latency along with inevitable crashes.
A bus is a physical path between the different components of a PC. The width of a bus refers to the amount of data that can pass through this path from the CPU to other components of the computer. A wider bus will boost the performance of your laptop.
Cache is a type of high-speed memory that holds recent instructions processed by the CPU. It improves the data transfer speed of a computer system. And it’s considerably faster than RAM due to its proximity to the microprocessors within a CPU.
When RAM processes instructions for a task. The CPU cache stores another copy of these instructions so that the computer system can access them quickly in case these instructions are needed again. This improves the speed of the CPU, as the data doesn’t have to be processed all over again.
How to Increase CPU Speed
Even if you spent time doing research before choosing the perfect CPU for your laptop. After some time, you may find that you’re no longer satisfied with its performance. A demanding game or application might require a faster processor capable of performing more tasks efficiently.
Why Not Replace It?
If the CPU in your device is too slow for the programs you’d like to run, you could replace it. The only problem is that if the device in question is a laptop. The CPU is most likely soldered onto the motherboard, which mean it can’t be replaced.
Overclocking, however, is viable option that allows you to boost the CPU speed without swapping it out. By using the appropriate BIOS option, you’ll be able to overclock the CPU and increase speed. Here are some factors to take into consideration.
- Invest in overclocking-friendly hardware. Some manufacturers, like Intel design CPUs for users interested in overclocking. Typically, Intel CPU models ending in the letter “K,” like the Core i9-10900K will be easier to manipulate. Check if your processor manufacturer offers specific programs to overclock processors. Intel issues Turbo Boost, while AMD issues OneDrive for this purpose, so the CPU performance won’t be negatively affected.
- When the CPU is overclocked, it generates more heat. You’ll need a laptop with enough interior space for a more robust cooling system to cool down the overclocked CPU. Water-based cooling systems are more efficient than air-cooling in this case.
- Make sure that you’re picking the right BIOS or Basic Input/Output System to be compatible with your CPU. Otherwise, your system will malfunction and eventually trigger the Blue Screen of Death. A poorly overclocked CPU can also cause your system to become unstable.
- Increase the CPU speed by small amounts, rebooting every time to check stability. Increasing the speed by too much at one go will overheat the CPU. And cause your system to become unstable.
CPU speed is becoming less critical to the overall performance of a laptop. So, if the processor in the device you’re considering is slower but can do more work, go for it. Not only will this setup produce less heat. But battery endurance will be comparatively longer than a laptop with a faster CPU. If you want your laptop to do more work simultaneously, your focus should be on the number of cores in the CPU (as well as the amount of RAM in the laptop). Not only are modern CPUs manufactured with more Cores. But they’re also endowed with a more robust cache, which means modern CPUs can do more per clock cycle. It’s a fact that still makes CPU speed an important specification to consider when qualifying processors – CPU speed is what allows a dual-core processor to outperform a quad-core CPU in certain instances.