I am sure you wonder what is a good processor speed for a laptop?
There are several different laptop processors available, each with its own set of specifications such as core count, thread count, cache memory, TDP, and so on.
However, the clock speed of a CPU is still the most important aspect that people consider when assessing its performance.
So, what is a good processor speed for a laptop?
But as with all PC hardware, good speed for your laptop will depend on your requirements. People who do a lot of demanding tasks and gaming will benefit from the speed of AROUND 3.0GHz (base). Everywhere from AROUND 2.5 GHz (base) will do just fine for basic tasks and light office work.
Emphasis is placed on the word “AROUND” as the clock speed is not the only determinant of the performance of the CPU.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer for this, the ideal case would be to have as high a clock speed as your budget would allow, just in case you might need it down the road.
On top of that, different types of workloads require a different set of specifications. For example, if you want a processor for video rendering, encoding, file compression, etc., then a processor with a higher core count would make more sense. But, as you can see, higher core counts do not generally lead to higher single-core efficiency.
You could then juggle between a good single-core performance (primarily influenced by clock speed) or a good multi-core performance (primarily affected by more core counts).
What Is A Good Processor Speed for A Laptop?
In order to get a better understanding of what clock speeds to expect, let’s look at some of the flagship processors in each price group.
Let’s concentrate on the newer AMD processors, i.e. the AMD Athlon 3000 series and the 4th Gen AMD Ryzen processors, for convenience.
So, for example, the flagship mainstream Ryzen 4th Gen laptop processor is the Ryzen 5 4600H.
|Flagship Entry Level CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 3|
|Flagship Budget CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 5|
|Flagship Mainstream CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 7|
|Flagship High-Performance CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 9|
|Flagship Workstation CPU|
In the table above, you can see both the clock speed and the benchmark results for all common Ryzen laptop processors (relatively newer ones only).
There are two things you need to understand, i.e. Single-Core vs Multi-Core performance, and the fact that clock speed is not the only measure of Processor performance.
Difference Between Single-Core vs Multi-Core Performance
A lot of people believe that the more cores a processor has, the faster it is. Although this is valid to a certain degree, having more cores than you actually need is a waste of money.
In fact, much of the apps you’re using and the games you’re playing don’t really leverage a lot of cores anyway. Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, etc. do not really benefit from a CPU with more than 2 cores.
In other words, for the most popular online games, a dual-core processor will do just fine, and if you’re going to buy a laptop with a CPU that’s enough for those games, then you don’t need a superb multi-core CPU.
At the same time, work such as modeling in CAD, sculpting in Blender, etc. has the most effect on the Single Core. The CPU clock is a crucial factor for enhanced single-core performance.
Tasks and games that use multiple cores and can benefit from excellent multi-core efficiency include rendering, decoding, file compression, games like Cities Skylines, Ashes of Singularity, Flight Simulator, etc.
Also Read: Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000
Why Clock Speed is Not the Most Accurate Measure of CPU Performance
The benchmark results for the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H and the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H in the above table show one very important point: despite having about the same clock speed per core, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H has better single-core performance – in fact, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H has a slower clock speed of 1.1 GHz.
Just looking at the clock speed to judge the single-core output would make you assume that both the Ryzen 7 4800H and the Ryzen 5 4600H would be more or less the same. However, that is not the case.
The thing is, looking at clock speed is a very myopic and old-school way to assess the output of a CPU.
Although the clock speed is obviously significant. For instance, the 3.0 GHz processor will be preferable to the 2.4 GHz processor, but there are also other considerations that decide the overall efficiency of the CPU.
CPU clock speed will help you select between two processors of the same family, i.e. Intel Core i5-10400 vs Intel Core i5-10600K, but when you equate it to a different series, clock speed is only one of several factors.
So What is a Good Processor Speed for Your Laptop?
If you are willing to get a precise answer to your question, you should be well served by the table above. The following results have been summarized:
Basic Work: Word Processing, Light Office Work, Browsing
If your workload demands are low meaning if you plan to work on simple tasks like word processing, internet surfing, social media usage, and light office work then the following CPU with their clock speed is recommended:
- Lower Performance: Intel Pentium 6405U – 2.4 GHz (base)
- Higher Performance: AMD Athlon 3150U – 2.4 GHz (base) – 3.3 GHz (turbo)
Moderate Work: Processional Office Work, Casual Editing / Gaming
For this, you can get a basic Intel Core i3 or a Ryzen 3 processor. You don’t quite need to go into the mainstream processor lines for office work that deals with excel sheets, report writing, etc.
- Lower Performance: Intel Pentium 10110U – 2.10 GHz (base) – 4.10 GHz (Turbo)
- Higher Performance: AMD Ryzen 3 4300U – 2.7 GHz (base) – 3.7 GHz (Turbo)
Gaming and Intermediate Work: For All Sort of Gaming and Intermediate Level of Editing and Designing Work
Mainstream processors are recommended for gaming. Here we are talking about AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5 processors. These have an excellent single-core performance have enough cores for most games.
Generally, going for a high-performance processor with more cores i.e the Ryzen 7 or Core i7 processor does not give a huge performance boost for gaming since most games do not utilize the overkill amount of cores offered by them.
- Recommended: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 3.0 GHz (base) – 4.0 GHz (turbo)
Also Read: Top 10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1000
High Performance and Workstation
For this line of work, the higher core count is as critical as the clock speed.
Work such as rendering, heavy multitasking, or demanding applications running at the same time, streaming sports, encoding files, file compression, etc. requires high-performance or station-grade processors.
Again, although the clock speed here is more or less the same as the conventional processors above, it is the core count that differentiates these processors and gives them a major boost in their multi-core performance.
- Lower Performance: Intel Core i7-10750H – 2.6 GHz (base) – 5.0 GHz (turbo)
- Mid Performance: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H – 2.9 GHz (base) – 4.2 GHz (turbo)
- High Performance: AMD Ryzen 9 4900H – 3.3 GHz (base) – 4.4 GHz (turbo)
In short, the typical processor with a reasonable all-around performance that is ideal for gaming and the intermediate stage of technical work should have a standard clock speed of about 3.0 GHz with a turbo boost of around 4.0 GHz.
Holding this as the average, you can go for lower clock speeds if your work demand and budget is low, and inversely you can go for higher clock speeds (and cores) if you’re a specialist looking for a CPU powerhouse.
Again, when in this article we spoke about what a good laptop processor is, looking at common alternatives, the sheer clock speed is not the best determinant of the processor’s performance. Instead of comparing two processors, we recommend that you adopt benchmark findings. Some of the common benchmarks are Passmark and Cinebench R23, R20 and R15.