CPU Clock Speed – Do it really Matters?

2Ghz, 2.4GHz, 3GHz etc. You have definitely heard about these if you ever purchased a laptop, desktop processor or even a mobile phone as well. I am here to tell you what is these are these do really affect the performance of the device?

In easy words, the clock speed is the measure of number of instructions that can be performed by the single core of a processor in one second. It is usually measured in Hz or GHz, now a days.

1 Hz means the CPU can perform 1 instruction per second. Very slow, right. The modern processors do have an average clock speed of about 2 GHz (Giga-Hertz). This simply means 2,000,000,000 (2 Billion) instructions in a single second.

Image Courtesy: computerhope

Imagine you have a quad-core CPU with 2GHz frequency. Then you have a resultant frequency of CPU to be 4X2GHz That’s 8GHz. Therefore, your processor can complete 8,000,000,000 or simply 8 Billion instructions in a single second.

Here comes an interesting twist, what is an instruction? Well, all of us interacts with the Operating System User Interface that shows us the processes. If we open a window, it is a process. If we add 4+2, it is a process. So, what are the instructions?

Processes contains a number of instructions. Instructions are the tasks which are executable by the processor. Simply, if we add 2+4, The instruction is ‘+’ whereas ‘2’ and ‘4’ is data. The processor only understands 0 and 1 and therefore, we have to convert ‘2’ and ‘4’ into Binary (0 and 1).

In the process of conversion, we need to perform more instructions. Note that adding 2 and 4 needs about 10-15 instructions to be performed.

A processor of 1Hz clock speed needs 10-15 seconds just to add 2 and 4. But a processor of 2GHz clock speed can do it within nanoseconds.

Does clock speed really matter for you?

The answer is yes, depends upon what work you are doing with the processor.

  • If you only use your device for multimedia, web browsing, Microsoft office and low Graphics games, the clock speed is not a concern for you, a 1.8GHz Processor will even work for you.
  • If you do multitask and play a slightly heavy game on your device, try to get a clock speed of 2.2GHz or faster.
  • If you wish to play heavy games, do heavy level of multitasking and video editing etc., you should go for a processor with clock speed of 3.0GHz or faster.
  • If you are going to use your device for high end gaming, 3D video rendering etc., you have to go with 4.0Ghz or faster. Now a days, Intel and AMD have processors with a clock speed of 5GHz and more.

Base Speed and Turbo Speed?

Do you know, you can boost up your processor’s Clock speed? Yes, if you look at the specifications of a processor, you can find out different clock speed, base speed and turbo speed.

The base speed of a processor is the normal speed for which it is designed and meant to operate on. The speed increased later to improve the performance of the processor is called turbo speed.

Intel and AMD are working regularly on their respective technologies. Intel have its turbo boost technology whereas AMD have Core Boost, Radeon Boost, AMD Overdrive etc.

How to know your Processor’s Clock Speed?

  • Go to Task Manager by Right Clicking in your taskbar.
  • Select Performance Tab from Menu and you’ll see something like this.
A snip from task manager to show the CPU Clock Speed

Here, You can see Speed written in large fonts, is the speed at which the processor is running upon.

The Base Speed written in right side is the normal speed of the processor on which it is designed to operate upon.

Do you need to Upgrade?

If your device is running slow, it cannot be said that it will be fine after you upgrade to a processor with higher clock speed. There may be problem with RAM and your primary storage device (Hard Disk/SSD) as well. To give it a check, open task manager, and check Utilization under CPU in Performance tab. Open your desired program (which runs slow), and monitor utilization % of your CPU. If it goes above 90%, you may need to upgrade to better version. Either check your Memory (RAM) or Disk.

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