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CPU Clock Speed Jumping: Causes & How to Fix It

Wondering what is causing your clock speed to jump and need some help? We’ve got you covered!

Though there are many different parts that make a computer make the magic that we all rely on daily, the most important parts are often glossed over. This is especially the case when your computer undergoes the one dreaded thing that eventually befalls all CPUs: the slowdown.

What causes the slowdown though? There are many different reasons honestly. It could be a virus, it could be an overload of programs or certain background processes slowing your machine down, but it could be something completely different.

It could be the CPU clock speed causing all this slow down and, just like most computer parts, one thing often leads to another. To understand this better, we’ll cover what causes the CPU clock speed to jump and give you some helpful tips on dealing with it.

What it CPU Clock Speed?

In a PC, clock rate refers to the frequency that the clock generator of a processor generates pulses. These pulses are then used to synchronize the operations of its components and is used as a way to indicate your processor’s speed. It is measured by clock cycles per second or commonly referred to as hertz or Hz. The speed of your clock is always designated with Hz and the higher the Hz, the faster your system is, and the lower the Hz, the slower your system will run.

Multiple processes can be completed in a single clock cycle and in other cases, one process gets handled in the clock cycle. Your CPU always differs from one to the other and therefore the processes are handled different accordingly which will have an outcome of different clock speeds. When comparing the clock speeds, it is best to use the same brand and same generation so you’re checking between systems on a level playing field.

What Affects Clock Speed

Almost any computer process can affect your CPU clock speed. As you use your PC throughout the day, you can often here a rise in the hum from your desktop tower. This isn’t just because the fan is constantly trying to cool itself, it’s actually because of all the different processes that are happening while you’re using the PC.

Within each of these processes, a certain amount of clock speed is required to run them. For example, if you’re running anything graphics heavy, whether it be a videogame, VR program or movie, you will often hear your PC start to rev up to prepare to take on the heavy load that will be put upon it to run the game.

When the fans start speed up, that’s the clock that is speeding up as well. As the clock runs higher, the system runs hotter and that’s why the fans start revving up so the system doesn’t completely fry itself.

How Clock Speed Affects Gaming

Since the invention of multi-core CPUs, clock speed was one of the most accurate ways to compare one processor to the other. Now, it’s just a part of comparing it along with several other factors.

When it comes to gaming, the CPU clock and GPU clock are two of the most important aspects that will determine how well your game will run. The number of cores in CPU is also instrumental in how well a game performs and when you have a high clock speed mixed with that, it’s a recipe for gaming excellence.

You might be wondering how you can check what type of performance you’re getting out of your clock. There is always the eye and ear test, which means you can hear if your system is being overwhelmed as well as see what the onscreen performance is like. That’s a very practical but inaccurate way to track the performance though.

The best way to find this information is by doing a benchmark. Benchmarking is done through a variety of programs, but one of our favorite, most effective programs is Superposition Benchmark. The benchmark allows you to do a simulation of what your PC is undergoing without actually taxing it too much.

For example, if you are a gamer who likes to bump the settings to ultra and live with the results regardless of your system, you can see what the actual stressing of your system will do when put against those settings. You can see what 4K graphics do to the clock and what different size screens will do to it as well.

In addition to all this, there is now a VR benchmark. During all of these processes, you can see the temperature of your GPU rise and fall depending on the settings you have. You can also see the frames per second drop or rise and this is the most important part of the benchmark as the frames per second will be the thing to determine the smoothness of your gaming experience.

What to Do If Your Clock Speed is Too High

Using MSI Afterburner, we can get a very accurate depiction of how our clock is doing. Not only can you test out the exact speed, but you can use this tool to speed up the clock, the speed of the fan, the core voltage and more.

While you should leave the voltage alone unless you’re an expert, the others can be tinkered with and tested until you get the best performance possible. The term for this is Overclocking and it can be the key to unlocking your PC and making your GPU perform well past what its actual specifications dictate. You can get improved frames per second, faster loading times and other benefits that are comparable to today’s top of the line systems.

But, if you’re not careful with Overclocking, you can overcook your system. So, what happens when you overcook the system? Well, in the gaming world, you will see artifacts, glitches, the computer itself will start to get too hot too and if you run it past its capabilities for too long, then you can ultimately end up with big problems.

P.S. – We have a full standalone guide to determining whether or not your CPU can handle overclocking. It also covers how to know if your CPU is currently being actively overclocked.

What Happens If You Overclock Too Much

If you get to Overclock crazy, then your system will slowly begin to suffer. While you can Overclock your GPU as well as your CPU, there are different consequences to Overclocking each past a system’s capabilities. If you happen to Overclock your GPU too much, which honestly is tough to do unless you’re completely reckless in your tinkering, the worst thing that can happen is you burn out your GPU a little sooner than you thought it would last.

Most GPUs last for 5+ years, but by constantly Overclocking your system too far, you can end up with less than 3 pretty easily. Still, a GPU is replaceable and, although they can be costly, there are lots of options.

The act of physically installing a CPU however is a far different task and one that’s inherently more complicated. An entire motherboard can also be replaced, but that also requires a bit more research and can usually be pretty expensive as well.

Most people won’t go so far as to ruin their systems instantly though, so long as sound instructions are followed.

Final Recommendations

Your computer’s clock speed is actually one of the most important things you can look at when considering what kind of processor you want for your system.

For gamers, the faster the clock, the more attractive the CPU is for certain and if you’re planning on playing any of the modern games of today on your system, make sure you know if the clock can handle it before you make any brash decisions.

Make sure to also remember that, when you compare the clocks on two systems, the systems are similar brand and model so you don’t end up comparing two completely different machines.

For the non-gamers out there, your clock speed can still affect your PC performance and even doing seemingly simple activities like downloading music or watching TV. Always keep an ear out to hear if your fan is running too hot or too fast and immediately discontinue whatever activity you were doing. This is the danger zone and you need to get the clock down before real damage is done.

Overclocking is definitely a great option for many users. Just make sure that you proceed with the utmost care and know that you are tinkering with machinery that may not have been designed to be pushed further than its base specs.

Is Your CPU Overclockable? (Or Already Being Overclocked)

Is Your CPU Overclockable? (Or Already Being Overclocked)

How to Know If Your CPU is Failing (Or Dead)

How to Know If Your CPU is Failing (Or Dead)