Question CPU Base Speed for Gaming/Under stress? How is it affected?

Mar 29, 2022
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In general I get the fact that:
The CPU will never drop below the base clock
It is unlikely your CPU will keep running at its Turbo Clock consistently
Higher temps likely result in lower speed
Games will often require multicore processes

However there are a lot of CPUs if I only run off that knowledge that contradict what I already know. So to say in general i7s, i9s, high level i5s, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, Threadrippers and other similar CPUs will likely hold up well in most mid-high end games however often these CPUs will have base clocks around 2Ghz - 3.5Ghz.
Comparing these 2 CPUs for example: i3 9100F vs i9 12900K
from Intels site:
i3 9100F
Performance Boost Clock: 4.2Ghz
Performance Base Clock: 3.6 Ghz - Essentially the lowest speed it will run at
vs
i9 12900K
Performance Boost Clock: 5.2Ghz
Performance Base Clock: 3.2Ghz
Essentially meaning if we were to compare both these processors if they were under stress the i3 at its lowest speed would run faster than the i9 under stress at its lowest speed. Of course this is disregarding cache distribution, threads available, cores available, cpu architecture, etc.... however it does seem strange how an obviously "lower level" CPU would at its lowest speed/frequency run faster than a higher level CPU at its lowest speed/frequency.
 

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In general I get the fact that:
The CPU will never drop below the base clock
It is unlikely your CPU will keep running at its Turbo Clock consistently
Higher temps likely result in lower speed
Games will often require multicore processes

However there are a lot of CPUs if I only run off that knowledge that contradict what I already know. So to say in general i7s, i9s, high level i5s, Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7, Ryzen 9, Threadrippers and other similar CPUs will likely hold up well in most mid-high end games however often these CPUs will have base clocks around 2Ghz - 3.5Ghz.
Comparing these 2 CPUs for example: i3 9100F vs i9 12900K
from Intels site:
i3 9100F
Performance Boost Clock: 4.2Ghz
Performance Base Clock: 3.6 Ghz - Essentially the lowest speed it will run at
vs
i9 12900K
Performance Boost Clock: 5.2Ghz
Performance Base Clock: 3.2Ghz
Essentially meaning if we were to compare both these processors if they were under stress the i3 at its lowest speed would run faster than the i9 under stress at its lowest speed. Of course this is disregarding cache distribution, threads available, cores available, cpu architecture, etc.... however it does seem strange how an obviously "lower level" CPU would at its lowest speed/frequency run faster than a higher level CPU at its lowest speed/frequency.
Ignoring the speed changes in the generation difference still no because under stress the CPU will go into boost speed.

If you had the turbo boost disabled and again ignore the difference in the generation speed then in theory yes because you would be comparing 3.2 to 3.6.

Edit and yes with no load they can drop below the base speed.
 
Judging the processor by its clock speed alone is a long known fallacy since whenever. The clock speed of a processor doesn't determine how well it performs compared to some other processor, unless it's in the same microarchitecture family.

By your logic, a Pentium 4 operating at 3.8 GHz, the fastest it's been officially clocked, should outperform both the i3-9100F and i9-12900K at their base clock speeds. But if you actually run tests, both the i3 and i9 will destroy the Pentium 4 in performance tests. I mean heck I remember having a 2.2GHz AMD CPU that would keep up with a 2.6GHz Intel CPU.

Why is that? This metric called "Instructions Per Clock" or IPC. This is determined by how the processor was designed, among other things. Two things off the top of my head why the i3 and i9 performs better than the Pentium 4 is that the i3 and i9 have more execution units to perform actual work, as well as having shorter pipelines, which helps lower the pentalty for which a pipeline flush happens. There was probably also improvements to things like branch prediction and such.

Also if the CPU is approaching its thermal limits and the cooling system still can't kee up, it will drop below the base clock speed.
 
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Base speed has nothing to do with it, in properly configured system CPU will run at frequency (note I didn't say "speed" as that's whole other thing) SW demands, anywhere between all cores but one in "Sleep" mode and active one at frequency way lower than base and all they way to all cores at some boost frequency or only one or 2 higher than others, some times called "Turbo".
Some reasons for declaring "Base speed" can be a frequency under which CPU/actually cores manufacturer considers power saving and above as Boost or Turbo.
PS. Forget about CPU as a whole in this context but cores themselves.
 
Of course this is disregarding cache distribution, threads available, cores available, cpu architecture, etc.... however it does seem strange how an obviously "lower level" CPU would at its lowest speed/frequency run faster than a higher level CPU at its lowest speed/frequency.
Less cores to "feed" with power so they can boost higher under spec.
Since nobody runs high end CPUs under spec though this conversation is mostly irrelevant.
 
Sep 17, 2022
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Less cores to "feed" with power so they can boost higher under spec.
Since nobody runs high end CPUs under spec though this conversation is mostly irrelevant.
The OP is missing the whole concept of IPC, "Instructions per Clock". It basically is a measure of how much work a CPU can do in a clock cycle. A CPU with 3.2 Ghz base clocks can still be much faster than a CPU at 4.0 base clocks if the IPC of the 3.2 Ghz CPU exceeds the IPC of the 4.0 Ghz CPU enough.

IPC is much harder to measure than raw clocks because every single application will scale differently in performance with IPC improvements vs clock speed improvements.
 
The OP is missing the whole concept of IPC, "Instructions per Clock". It basically is a measure of how much work a CPU can do in a clock cycle. A CPU with 3.2 Ghz base clocks can still be much faster than a CPU at 4.0 base clocks if the IPC of the 3.2 Ghz CPU exceeds the IPC of the 4.0 Ghz CPU enough.
If OP is simply wondering about clock speeds alone, disregarding actual performance, then what @TerryLaze is saying is correct. Since base clock is the manufacturer's guarantee that, provided the cooler meets their specifications, the CPU will run at that speed and parts are typically power limited, you can only push so many cores so fast before you hit a power wall.
 

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