A faster CPU means a smoother gaming experience. It can lead to increased FPS in the latest AAA titles, better multitasking while running streaming software, or speedier video encoding. But how do you go about optimizing your CPU for gaming?
Intel user-friendly CPU optimization tools are designed to do exactly that. With easy-to-use interfaces and automated testing, they help you run the processor you already own at higher speeds. Read on to see which can work with your system.
Intel® Performance Maximizer (Intel® PM)
Intel® Performance Maximizer is an easy way to speed up your CPU. It currently works with the latest processors with a “K”, “KF”, or “KS” designation (such as the latest Intel® Core™ i9 processor), and will continue to be supported by future CPU releases.
Intel® Performance Maximizer is an Intel® CPU optimizer that automatically overclocks your CPU. Overclocking boosts your processor’s clock speed (the number of CPU cycles performed every second), allowing it to process instructions from programs at higher speeds.
Overclocking traditionally involves manually adjusting settings in the BIOS, then rebooting and running stress tests to check system stability. Intel® Performance Maximizer makes things easy. The tool launches straight from Windows, rather than the BIOS, and handles all the testing and tuning for you.
Intel® Performance Maximizer automatically tests your processor to determine the capabilities of its individual cores (the CPU’s “performance DNA”). Due to variability in manufacturing (which overclockers sometimes call the “silicon lottery”), each processor has a unique performance profile, meaning that some processors can be overclocked to faster speeds than others that share the same model number. Driven by machine learning, these tests create a custom profile of your processor, instead of relying on standard specifications for that CPU model.
After testing, Intel® Performance Maximizer sets the maximum safe overclock speed for the processor. If it significantly boosts the clock speed, it can mean FPS gains in CPU-intensive games, faster rendering times, and speedier response times in a variety of applications.
Note that Intel® Performance Maximizer requires 16GB of free storage space and several hours of uninterrupted time to run. Read more about how to use it here.
Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU)
Designed to help users configure and test their overclocks, Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU) is CPU optimization software that provides a hub for benchmarks, stress tests, and system monitoring with live Trendline graphs. It works with unlocked Intel® CPUs designated with a “K”, dating back to 3rd Gen models, as well as enthusiast processors from the Intel® Core™ X-series processor family.
Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility provides easy access to the basic overclocking “tuning knobs” that control CPU speed (such as the Processor Core Ratio and the Processor Cache ratio), allowing more hands-on overclocking than Intel® Performance Maximizer.
The built-in benchmark tool can be used to compare CPU speed before and after overclocking, then check it against the scores of other overclockers online. Other users’ settings can be imported and applied from the “Profiles” tab.
A built-in CPU stress test lets users check stability and system temperatures with their overclock settings. Regardless of whether overclock settings have been applied by Intel® Performance Maximizer or manually set in Intel® XTU or the BIOS environment, the Intel® XTU stress test provides an intensive workload. Read more about how to use it here.
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology is a CPU optimization tool that’s automatically enabled, without any user installation or configuration. Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 exists on many Intel® CPUs. Unlike Intel® Performance Maximizer and Intel® XTU, it doesn’t require an unlocked processor to work.
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 dynamically increases the speed of a CPU under heavy workloads. It temporarily increases the clock speed of a CPU beyond its normal operating frequency, up to its Max Turbo Frequency (for example, 5.30 GHz for the Intel® Core™ i9-10900K processor), to handle the demands of CPU-intensive software.
However, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology doesn’t always increase your clock speed up to the Max Turbo Frequency. CPU temperature, power consumption, and the number of cores already in use can impact the maximum safe speed of your processor.
While most Intel® CPUs use Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 exists on some processors from the Intel® Core™ X-series processor family. 3.0 builds on the capabilities of 2.0, speeding up a CPU’s fastest cores and directing critical workloads to them.
How Do I Use CPU Optimization Software?
Unlocked Intel® CPUs are designed for overclocking, and free CPU optimization programs like Intel® Performance Maximizer and Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility help them reach their full potential.
However, these programs aren’t the only ways to optimize performance. Making sure your system is properly cooled and not bottlenecked are two more great ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of your PC.