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How to Determine Processor Speed

How to Determine Processor Speed

If you are clueless about how to evaluate processor speed, this article will be a helpful read. This guide will help you gauge the performance potential of your processor.
Omkar Phatak
A computer is only as fast as its processor allows it to be. The central processing unit (CPU) is the veritable brain of the computer, which carries out all the processing, computing and decision-making tasks for it. The faster the processor, more are the calculations it can process per second, and faster is the overall operation of the computer. Ergo, the processor speed is the single most important parameter, which you must check, while purchasing a computer. Before you think about upgrading your processor, you need to know how to determine processor speed of your existing system.

There are various reasons why you may need to know what the processing speed of your computer processor is. It may be that you need to verify whether your processor matches the operating requirements specified for a new software that you planning to get installed. It's also possible that you have bought a new assembled PC and you need to verify whether the vendor installed all the computer hardware components as you ordered. Whatever be the reason, before you can proceed, you need to know what are the specifications which determine the speed of the processor. Let me briefly explain how processor parameters decide computer speed.

Specifications That Determine Computer Speed

All you need to know about the processor are its three most important specifications, which include its clocking frequency (specified in GigaHertz or MegaHertz), the number of cores contained in the chip, and the memory cache size. The clocking frequency determines the number of tasks that a processor can simultaneously process, making it the most important factor determining processing speed. The number of cores determine the parallel processing ability of the computer, and more the cores, better equipped is the processor for multitasking. The memory cache is the working memory of the processor, where data is temporarily stored. More L2 and L3 cache size speeds up processing, improving the processor speed. After that brief overview of the most important specifications determining processor speed, let me show you how to look for these specifications, through your operating system.

Determining Processor Speed on Windows 7 / Vista / XP

Looking up the name, number of cores, and clocking frequency of the processor installed on your computer, is extremely easy on Windows 7, Windows XP or Windows Vista. There are three ways in which you can do this:
  • Right Click on 'My Computer' or 'Computer' icon on desktop → Click on Properties → Find Processor Name, Number of Cores and Clocking Frequency Listed
  • Go to Start / Windows Icon → All Programs → Accessories → System Tools → System Information → Read Listed Information Next to 'Processor' specification
  • Start / Windows Icon → Accessories → Command Prompt → Type 'Devmgmt.msc' → Click on 'Processors' to get information
Evaluating Processor Speed on Mac OS X

Compared to Windows operating system, looking up the processor speed specifications on a Mac OS X is easier. Just click on the Apple icon, which is usually found at the top left of the screen. A drop down list will appear, in which you must click on 'About This Mac'. Immediately a window will open, showing you the processor name and specifications.

As you can see, determining the processor speed of a computer is extremely easy, as the information is served as part of system information by any version of Windows or Mac OS X operating system. By knowing the exact configuration of the existing system, you can decide whether or not to go for an upgrade. By knowing the name and model number of the processor, you can determine the clocking frequency, number of cores, and cache memory size of the chip. Just follow the guidelines provided above to see what processor has been installed in your computer.