Much like their desktop counterparts, laptop processor speed depends on core clock speed and the number of cores and threads within a CPU. Most consumer laptops, by relation, often have lower core counts and average or slightly higher CPU clock speeds to compete with desktops.
A good processor speed is between 3.5 to 4.2 GHz, but it is more important to have a single-thread performance. In short, 3.5 to 4.2 GHz is a good speed for a processor and for understanding the threshold between desktop and laptop performance. Most gaming laptops released often have a reasonably low clock speed threshold like 2.8 or 3.2GHz, but the boost clock can exceed 4.0 GHz.
This article covers the most important aspects of laptop CPU clock speeds and what to look for before purchasing.
What a Processor Does for Gaming Laptops
Processors in laptops vary due to their multirole functions often exhibited in different workloads. for gaming, a CPU must keep up with a dedicated GPU, which requires the system to balance power between components in such a small package.
In addition to maintaining a smaller form factor, laptop CPUs are not all about core speed. Their unique position allows them to support the GPU as it displays to the internal or external display while running whatever active game or program is on screen.
Good Processor Speeds for Laptops
Here are some of the best ranges for processor speeds for laptops released in recent years. These vary based on the generation of chips and their manufacturers but offer different advantages.
AMD's recent release of laptop kits has seen 4 new processors in the Ryzen 7000 series that go from 6 to 16 cores. This is the answer to Intel's recently released 13th series last year, with 8 new processors and up to 24 cores @ 4.5 to 5.6GHz on their higher-end models. There is a lot to expect from the latest generation of mobile processors.
How to Measure Processor Speed in Your Laptop
Typically, the clock speed means nothing between CPU generations; they are based on different architectures. This can significantly affect laptop CPU performance due to needing a manageable chip for such a compact system.
To determine your system's clock speed, you can open the task manager and see your base clock and system boost clock speeds in the performance tab.
What Higher Processor Speed Means
Higher processor clock speeds mean that the unit of work completed in each participating core is faster. This process involves the CPU weighing factors contributing to its function, like clock speed, input voltage, and, more importantly for gaming, cache size.
A Good Laptop Processor Speed Varies on Your Tasks
Like any laptop configuration, the intended use is the thing that makes or breaks an experience based on hardware configurations. Let's go through some of the typical workloads a laptop processor experiences.
Whether browsing articles online or watching YouTube, TikTok, or other social platforms, laptops with at least a 2.4GHz processor and a good internet connection is enough to keep up with a constant stream of media.
Daily Tasks & Light Work
Daily tasks and work on a laptop can be gauged by what programs are used. Lightwork would describe programs like Excel or screen-sharing presentations. Depending on the spec, these tasks can be completed on a 2 or 4-core processor.
Gaming is a particular task for the CPU to undertake. Most games rely on multicore boosting to handle most of their processing needs; however, there is an expected dip in efficiency between laptops compared to desktop counterparts.
The CPU's clock speed and input voltage regulate how effectively any laptop CPU handles gaming workloads. Laptops will frequently need external power from the wall for sustained gaming sessions. This is due to the required boost clock to keep up with triple-A titles, making mobile CPUs reduce their power consumption to remain practical gaming machines.
Higher Intensity Work
Along with gaming, productivity workloads like CAD, Adobe Suit products, or rendering software push CPUs to their threshold, requiring a constant supply of power and more prolonged render sessions taking several minutes or hours depending on hardware.
Laptops are especially good at doing intense work in a pinch when traveling or being away from a desktop, but pails in comparison with their desktop counterparts.
What Affects Processor Speeds in Laptops?
In addition to what programs currently run on the laptop, hardware specifications like the clock speed and input voltage affect internal processes like hyperthreading and cache utilization, contributing to the overall clock speed.
This may seem confusing, but let's break down what each part of the CPU contributes to each clock cycle.
Ever since the late 1990s. Multicore CPU packages have become refined to a point where the amount of computing power. Now CPUs come with either 4, 6, 8,10, 12, 16, or 24 cores, depending on the manufacturer and model chosen.
Typically 4, 6, or 8 cores are seen on laptops due to their manageable power consumption, especially when paired with a dedicated GPU. However, with the latest advances, AMD looks to bring its 3D stack cache design to laptops with its latest 7045 series mobile processors.
Size of Cache
In recent years, companies like AMD have made a concerted effort to fit as much CPU cache as possible for better gaming performance. When utilized correctly, it allows upwards of double to triple the amount of cache in MB. That may not seem like a lot in storage terms. Still, within a tiny package on a CPU, it opens up a world of possibilities for developers who can take advantage of all the information that can be made readily available on the CPU.
Thread count is a reasonably unifying concept along with multicore processors and helps greatly for options like multitasking. You will have to double the number of threads depending on how many cores you have. Each tread can tackle a task currently active on your PC, and you can see particular treads being utilized over others.
Processor Core vs. Clock Speeds
Depending on a game's requirements and recommended specifications, needing to have a specific clock speed over a core amount is beneficial.
Single-Core vs. Multi-Core
Most games and productivity applications use multicore functions to facilitate software demands better. However, some programs may only be bound to single-core laptop processors due to the CPU's restrictions on the power input.
Improving Your Laptop’s Processor Speed
Multiple avenues exist to increase your hardware ability to work with single or multicore processors and facilitate more demanding workloads.
While there are not many things you can do to upgrade the hardware like the CPU or GPU due to being directly soldered to the motherboard, there are other manufacturers that accommodate external connection, laptop chassis, or even swapping out a dedicated GPU; once thought to be impossible.
The laptop manufacturer Framework has received much attention from hardware reviewers like Linus Tech Tips. Framework laptops have become an exciting development due to their modularity and commitment to the Right to Repair Laws for consumers. Linus did a great video on it right here!
Overclocking Your CPU
Depending on your motherboard support, you may want to see if your CPU is overclockable. Depending on the CPU variant, the ability to overclock will rely on the processor being unlocked rather than locked. Locked CPUs offer very little in adjusting voltages, clock speeds, or cache utilization consigning their performance to whatever comes out of the box.
Unlocked CPUs allow for greater customization; however, they are few and far between in the laptop market due to increased power consumption, thermal management, and, most apparent, stability issues.
Laptop Processor Speed FAQ
Here are some commonly asked questions about the clock speed of laptop processors.
Is a 2.4 GHz Processor Good for a Laptop?
2.4 GHz is just enough for Windows 10 and 11 operating systems for multitasking and light work. More modern laptops will reach for a 3.2 or 3.4GHz base clock to accommodate multitasking more modern programs.
What Makes a Laptop Faster: RAM or Processor?
Overall the processor determines the more noticeable speed, while RAM will support the capabilities of the CPU. The CPU often needs shorter RAM latency and is the best upgrade path for all laptops with modular RAM slots.
Summary of Processor Speeds in Gaming Laptops
It's easy to get bogged down in the commitment of having a laptop without an easy way to guarantee those components like the CPU will last for years. Tricks like overclocking or adjusting game or program settings to better accommodate older hardware are still prevalent in today's market.
At Apex Gaming PCs, we have laptops capable of delivering the minimum, recommended, and beyond processing. In addition, we sell both integrated graphics and dedicated GPU models that allow you to facilitate your anticipated workloads for simple browsing or light productivity work. Whatever your processing needs, we hope to be of service at Apex!
Written By Will Wilson
Header Photo: Dylan Lam