What Is Intel® Turbo Boost Technology?

How do you use Intel® Turbo Boost Technology to speed up your processor? We’ll explain how it works.1 2

How Does Intel® Turbo Boost Technology Work?

CPUs don’t always need to run at their maximum frequency. Some programs are more dependent on memory to run smoothly, while others are CPU-intensive. Intel® Turbo Boost Technology is an energy-efficient solution to this imbalance: it lets the CPU run at its base clock speed when handling light workloads, then jump to a higher clock speed for heavy workloads.

Running at a lower clock rate (the number of cycles executed by the processor every second) allows the processor to use less power, which can reduce heat and positively impact battery life in laptops. But when more speed is needed, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology dynamically increases the clock rate to compensate. This is sometimes called “algorithmic overclocking.”

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology can potentially increase CPU speeds up to the Max Turbo Frequency while staying within safe temperature and power limits. This can increase performance in both single-threaded and multithreaded applications (programs that utilize several processor cores).3

If you’re wondering how to enable Turbo Boost, don’t worry — it’s enabled by default. You don’t need to download or configure anything.

What Is Max Turbo Frequency?

When handling light workloads, the CPU runs at the Base Frequency listed in its specifications. (Or lower, when the energy-saving Intel SpeedStep® technology scales CPU speeds.) When handling hardware threads marked for high performance, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology increases the clock speed up to the Max Turbo Frequency.

For example, the Intel® Core™ i9-9900K processor has a base frequency of 3.60 GHz, and a Max Turbo frequency of 5.00 GHz. Note that depending on its situation, a given CPU may not always reach its Max Turbo Frequency. The dynamic increase in speed changes depending on the workload and the thermal headroom available.

When comparing CPU clock speeds, the Max Turbo Frequency is typically the key number to keep in mind. It reflects the processor’s peak performance before overclocking.4 Along with core count and premium features, it’s one of the key considerations when CPU shopping.

Read more about CPU frequency here ›

What’s the Difference Between Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and 3.0?

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.05 follows the behavior described above, and is available on most Intel® Core™ processors newer than 2nd Gen (Intel® Core™ i5, i7, i9 processors, and Intel® Xeon® processors).

Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 is an enhanced version of 2.0 that boosts the speed of a CPU’s fastest cores individually, while also directing critical workloads to those boosted cores. It can increase single-threaded performance up to 15%.6 7 8

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 3.0 is available in Intel® Core™ X-series processors, including:

  • Intel® Core™ i7-69xx/68xx processors
  • Intel® Core™ i9-7900X/i9-7920X/i9-7940X/i9-7960X/i9-7980XE/i7-7820X/i7-9800X processors
  • Intel® Core™ i9-9820X/i9-99x0XE/i9-99x0X processors
  • Intel® Xeon® processor E5-1600 v4 product family (single-socket)

How Do I Use Intel® Turbo Boost Technology?

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology works automatically to give your CPU more speed when needed. There’s no need for users to install or configure it, as it’s enabled by default on all operating systems.

Though you can also disable Intel® Turbo Boost Technology from the BIOS, it’s not recommended to do so unless you’re troubleshooting specific issues or trying to collect consistent performance measurements. You’ll see more efficient performance and higher peak clock speeds with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology enabled.

If you’re interested in getting more out of your CPU, read our guide to overclocking and other CPU optimization resources.

Product and Performance Information

1

Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel® microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark* and MobileMark*, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations, and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. For more information go to www.intel.com/benchmarks.

2Intel, the Intel logo, and Core are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. © Intel Corporation
4

Altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the processor and other system components, and may reduce system stability and performance. Product warranties may not apply if the processor is operated beyond its specifications. Check with the manufacturers of system and components for additional details.

5

Requires a system with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. Intel® Turbo Boost Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 are only available on select Intel® processors. Consult your PC manufacturer. Performance varies depending on hardware, software, and system configuration.

6As measured with SPECint_base2006. SPECint*_base2000/2006 measures how fast a device completes a single integer compute task. SPECint*_rate_base2000/2006 measures throughput, or how many integer compute tasks a device can accomplish in a given amount of time. Comparison made using an Intel® Core™ i7-6950x processor versus an Intel® Core™ i7-5960x processor with otherwise identical system hardware.
7

Benchmark results were obtained prior to implementation of recent software patches and firmware updates intended to address exploits referred to as “Spectre” and “Meltdown”. Implementation of these updates may make these results inapplicable to your device or system.

8

Intel® technologies’ features and benefits depend on system configuration and may require enabled hardware, software or service activation. Performance varies depending on system configuration. Check with your system manufacturer or retailer or learn more at www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/turbo-boost/turbo-boost-max-technology.html.