There is a huge variety of laptop processors out there with different specifications like core count, thread count, cache memory, TDP etc. However, the key feature that people still look at to judge the performance of a CPU is its clock speed.
So what is a good processor speed for a laptop? To answer this question we will have to study several different laptop processors out there as well as there purpose.
But as is the case with all PC hardware, a good speed for your laptop will depend on your requirements. People who do lots of demanding tasks and gaming will benefit from speeds of AROUND 3.0GHz (base). For basic tasks and light office work, anywhere from AROUND 2.5 GHz (base) will do just fine.
The emphasis is on the word “AROUND” as clock speed is not the only determinant of a CPU’s performance.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this, the ideal case would be to have as high a clock speed as your budget would allow, just in case you might need it down the road.
On top of that, different types of workload demand a different set of specs. For instance, if you want a processor for video rendering, encoding, file compression etc, then a processor with a higher core count would make more sense. But, as you will see, a higher core count does not necessarily correspond to a higher Single Core performance.
Thus you have juggle between a good single-core performance (primarily affected by the clock speed) or a good multi-core performance (primarily affected by more core counts).
What Is A Good Processor Speed for A Laptop?
The laptop’s purpose determines what is a good processor speed for a laptop.
In order to get a better idea of what clock speeds to expect, let us look at some of the flagship processor from each price category. For simplicity sake, let us focus on the newer AMD processors i.e AMD Athlon 3000 series and 4th Gen AMD Ryzen processors.
So for instance, the flagship mainstream Ryzen processor for laptops from 4th Gen is the Ryzen 5 4600H.
|Passmark||Cinebench R20 |
Single Core /
|Flagship Entry Level CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 3|
|Flagship Budget CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 5|
|Flagship Mainstream CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 7|
|Flagship High Performance CPU|
|AMD Ryzen 9|
|Flagship Workstation CPU|
In the table above, you can see the clock speed as well as the benchmark results for all of the popular Ryzen laptop processors (relatively newer ones only).
There are two things that you need to understand i.e Single Core vs Multi-Core performance, and the fact that clock speed is not the only gauge of a CPU’s performance.
Difference Between Single Core vs Multi Core Performance
As the name suggest, the Single Core and Multi Core performance benchmark are two key points that every one should look into when getting the right processor for themselves.
Many people assume that the more cores a processor has, the better it is. While that is true to an extent, having more cores than you really need is a waste of money.
In fact, most of the software that you use and the games that you play do not even leverage a lot of cores anyways. Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, etc do not benefit much from a processor with more than 2 cores.
In other words, for most popular online games, a dual core processor would do just fine and if your intention is to get a laptop with a CPU sufficient for these games, then you do not need a processor with a superb multicore performance.
On top of that, work such as designing in CAD, sculpting models in Blender etc all leverage a Single Core the most. For a better Single Core performance, CPU clock is a major consideration.
Tasks and games that do utilize multiple cores and would benefit from an excellent multi core performance are rendering, encoding, file compression, games like Cities Skylines, Ashes of Singularity, Flight Simulator etc.
Why Clock Speed is Not the Most Accurate Measure of CPU Performance
The benchmark results for the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H and the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H in the table above reveal one very important point: despite both having almost the same clock speeds per core, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H has a better Single Core Performance – in fact AMD Ryzen 7 4800H has a slower .1 GHz slower clock speed.
Only looking at the clock speed to judge the single core performance would have you believe that both the Ryzen 7 4800H and Ryzen 5 4600H would be more or less the same. However that is not the case.
The thing is, looking at the clock speed is a very myopic and an old school way of determining the performance of a CPU.
While clock speed certainly does matter. Of course a processor with 3.0 GHz would be superior in performance to a processor with 2.4 GHz, however, there are many other factors that overall determine a CPU’s performance.
A CPU clock speed can help you decide between two processors in the same family i.e Intel Core i5-10400 vs Intel Core i5-10600K, but when comparing with a different series, clock speed is only one of many considerations.
So What is a Good Processor Speed for Your Laptop?
If you are adamant on getting a specific answer to your question, then the table above should serve you well. We have summarize the findings below:
Basic Work: Word Processing, Light Office Work, Browsing
If your workload demands are low meaning if you plan to work on simple tasks like word processing, internet surfing, social media usage, and light office work then the following CPU with their clock speed are recommended:
- Lower Performance: Intel Pentium 6405U – 2.4 GHz (base)
- Higher Performance: AMD Athlon 3150U – 2.4 GHz (base) – 3.3 GHz (turbo)
Moderate Work: Processional Office Work, Casual Editing / Gaming
For this, you can get a basic Intel Core i3 or a Ryzen 3 processor. You don’t quite need to go into the mainstream processor lines for office work that deals with excel sheets, report writing etc.
- Lower Performance: Intel Pentium 10110U – 2.10 GHz (base) – 4.10 GHz (Turbo)
- Higher Performance: AMD Ryzen 3 4300U – 2.7 GHz (base) – 3.7 GHz (Turbo)
Gaming and Intermediate Work: For All Sort of Gaming and Intermediate Level of Editing and Designing Work
Mainstream processors are recommended for gaming. Here we are talking about AMD Ryzen 5 and Intel Core i5 processors. These have an excellent singe core performance have enough cores for most games.
Generally, going for a high performance processor with more cores i.e the Ryzen 7 or Core i7 processor, does not give a huge performance boost for gaming since most games do not utilize the overkill amount of cores offered by them.
- Recommended: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 3.0 GHz (base) – 4.0 GHz (turbo)
Also Read: Is Quad Core Processor Good for Gaming?
High Performance and Workstation
For this line of work, higher core count matters as much as the clock speed.
Work such as rendering, heavy multitasking with demanding software running at the same time, streaming games, encoding videos, file compression etc require high performance or workstation grade processors.
Again, while the clock speed here is more or less the same as the mainstream processors above, it is the core count that differentiate these processors giving them a significant boost in their multi-core performance.
- Lower Performance: Intel Core i7-10750H – 2.6 GHz (base) – 5.0 GHz (turbo)
- Mid Performance: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H – 2.9 GHz (base) – 4.2 GHz (turbo)
- High Performance: AMD Ryzen 9 4900H – 3.3 GHz (base) – 4.4 GHz (turbo)
In short, an average processor with a decent all rounded performance that is suitable for gaming and intermediate level of professional work should have a base clock speed of around 3.0 GHz with Turbo boost of about 4.0 GHz.
Keeping this as the average, you can go for lower clock speeds if your work demand and your budget is low and inversely you can go for a higher clock speed (and cores) if you are a professional looking for a powerhouse CPU.
Again, while in this article we talked about what is a good processor for a laptop by looking at popular options, sheer clock speed is not the best determining factor of a processor performance. We recommend that you follow benchmark results instead when comparing two processors. Some popular benchmarks are Passmark and Cinebench R23, R20 and R15.