Have you ever wondered why your computer sometimes ‘hangs’ or takes a while to carry out whatever task it’s meant to do? Keep reading and you’ll find out one very important factor that affects your computer speed and what to look out for when selecting your computer.

The topic of this article might seem very ambiguous and unrelated to your computer but the clock speed and turbo boost are very essential to your computer. By the time you finish this article, you might want to go back and check your computer’s clock speed and turbo boost capability to ensure that you are getting the best deal when it comes to productivity and maximum efficiency.

What is Clock?

A clock is a microchip that monitors and controls both the speed and timing of all the functions your computer performs. This chip has a crystal that vibrates at a particular frequency whenever electricity is applied. One vibration of the chip or one clock is the shortest possible time in which any computer is capable of performing. A computer processor’s speed is measured in clock speed and its unit MHz and GHz. 1 MHz is one million vibrations or cycles per second while 2GHz means two billion vibrations or cycles per second.

What is Clock speed?

The clock speed is also called the processor speed, the clock rate or the base clock speed. It is the speed with which the microprocessor executes each command or each vibration of the clock. The shortest time or the minimum time a computer can carry out a task is one vibration of the clock chip or one clock.

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) has a preset number of clock ticks, or clock cycles to execute each instruction. The faster the clock speed, the faster the CPU and the faster the CPU can execute instructions.

It is important to note that the computer speed also depends on other factors like the RAM (Random Access Memory), Hard Drive and the number of processor cores.

If you want more information about the RAM, read the article where we talked about the RAM and other things to consider when buying the ideal laptop for work.


Now that we have a fairly good understanding of the Clock speed concept, we will go on to explore what ‘Turbo boost’ means and how it affects how fast your computer works.

Previous computer processors were created such that they ran only on their base clock speed which was a fixed speed. However, in recent times, computer processors have been built with the ability to adjust their clock speed depending on the task they are carrying out. These processors usually have a second ‘Turbo boost’ clock built-in. The turbo boost clock is the highest speed at which this computer processor can run. This turbo boost feature is produced by several computer processor brands and has different names; it is called ‘Turbo Boost’ by Intel and ‘Turbo Core’ by AMD and these names change as newer versions of the Turbo Boost technology are released.

The major benefit of the Turbo boost is that it makes your computer run faster when it has a lot of heavier tasks to perform. This means that if you are running a video game or some other CPU intensive task, your computer processor automatically increases its processor speed and gives you the needed performance under a heavier load. Another benefit of the Turbo boost is that it is entirely automatic, this means that your computer processor can switch to its boost speed when it recognizes the need for it without any intervention from you.

It is important to note that the turbo boost speed depends on the number of cores your processor has. If it is a single core, it will be boosted to its full turbo speed. However, if it has multiple cores, it may not be boosted to the maximum turbo boost speed across all cores.

Before your processor can reach its highest-rated turbo boost speed, a few conditions have to be met:

Power: Since a higher speed requires more energy, your computer’s motherboard must be able to deliver the power necessary for the processor to run at its turbo boost speed.

Temperature: The processor heats up more because of the high amount of power drawn by the processor from the motherboard. It is important for your CPU to have a good cooling system that can keep its temperatures in range. Otherwise, the processor will go into throttle mode. This means that the processor automatically lowers its frequency to protect itself from damage caused by overheating.

Need: To reach its turbo boost speed, your processor must have a particular reason to do that. If your apps do not need more speed than the base clock speed, the processor has no reason to increase to its turbo boost speed. Also if all the cores of your processor are not in use, the processor has no reason to increase its turbo boost speed.

If you are shopping for a new laptop or you want to upgrade your computer, the clock speed and turbo boost speed should be considered.

This means that if you were to choose between two computers A and B with essentially the same specifications and different clock speed, where A has a base clock speed of 1.80GHZ with turbo boost speed up to 2.8GHZ and B has a standard clock speed of 2.5GHZ.

We advise that it is better to choose computer A because the turbo boost speed allows the processor to speed up only when required. This will allow the computer to generate less heat and save power. Choosing computer B would mean that the processor would run on the 2.5GHZ high speed even when it is not needed. This would generate more heat and is ultimately a waste of resources because the computer is being underutilized.

You can read more about the other factors here.

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