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My ASUS laptop has a 4-core i7 at 2.4Ghz, with turbo boost capability up to 3.4GHz or thereabouts. It will run at the higher speed until the load is too great and then slow down towards 2.4Ghz. This is an Intel i7 feature. However, I found that temperature is probably the main limiter because in an cool-ish airconditioned room I had Lr using all four cores at the maximum 3.4GHz. Perhaps in a hotter environment the cpu would get hotter and slow down if the laptop fans struggled more to keep the cpu temperature low.
Desktop cpus seem to operate at...Show more →
Both desktop and mobile Intel processors use some form of Intel Speedstep technology. With speedstep the system automatically throttles the CPU to one or more low power states when the system is idling or lightly loaded. With the application of load, one or more cores can automatically ramp up to predefined (or user defined) Turbo Multipliers as long as they do not exceed certain power draw and thermal envelopes. For mobile processors this throttling is usually much more aggressive since battery life and heat dissipation are bigger concerns for mobile devices. For unlocked desktop cpus with good aftermarket cooling, the user is able to set the Turbo Multipliers and overclock the system, and effectively run the CPU at much higher loads.
As an example, my overclocked i7 2600K idles at 1.6GHz while drawing about 8W of power, and can ramp up all the cores to 4.4GHz while drawing about 110W fully loaded. My overclocked 6-core 3930K can draw up to 200W of power when running fully loaded at 4.4GHz. Both systems are watercooled, and temperatures for the quad never rise above 60C, and for the latter, about 73C.