Question about CPU clock speed

My laptop died so I’m in the market for a new PC. So I found this spec on one I am looking at “12 Gen Intel® Core™ i7-12700 (25.0 MB cache, 12 cores, 2.10 GHz to 4.90 GHz Turbo) .”

So what exactly do they mean by “2.10 GHz to 4.90 GHz Turbo”? Is this CPU’s base speed 2.10 GHz and it can be “overclocked” (if that is still a term) via changing something in the BIOS or do these newer CPU’s automatically adjust their clock speed based on the workload?

Edit: Looked up the CPU at Intel. Could someone be so kind as to translate? Thanks.

Max Turbo Frequency 4.90 GHz
Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 Frequency 4.90 GHz
Performance-core Max Turbo Frequency 4.80 GHz
Efficient-core Max Turbo Frequency 3.60 GHz
Performance-core Base Frequency 2.10 GHz
Efficient-core Base Frequency 1.60 GHz


2.10 GHz is the max clock speed without Turbo.
4.90 GHz is the max clock speed with Turbo.

It doesn’t have to be manually overclocked.
This is just one option in the BIOS to enable/disable Turbo.
I believe it is enabled by default.

And yes, the clock speed is dynamic and adapts to the workload, it generally ranges from 0.8 GHz to max allowed clock. Also, dynamic clock isn’t a new thing, it has been there for 20+ years.
However dynamic clock requires EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep) or the more recent Speed Shift to be enabled in the BIOS.
Since your CPU isn’t the K version, some options may not be accessible / tweak-able in the BIOS, but again it depends on the Motherboard. Cheap ones only have basic options, I’d recommend to aim at least to a $150 ASUS or MSI with a Click BIOS.
In any case, EIST and Speed Shift are enabled by default, or at least one of the two (even on the cheapest boards, don’t worry), but it’s still good to check and experiment.

If you have any question feel free to ask !

The word “max” isn’t really correct there. 2.1GHz is the base speed. It won’t drop below that. So it’s more of a minimum than a max.

If you look up the CPU at Intel’s “ark” page you can click on the “?” next to each speed and it’ll tell you what it means, briefly.

The bottom line is that modern CPUs are made so that they can identify the best performing cores and boost those above the rest if needed, and then also take into account how much ‘thermal headroom’ you have, i.e. how much they can boost before the CPU package gets too hot. So it’s mostly automatic these days and you gain little by trying to manually overclock in many situations (if it’s even possible on some CPUs).

Intel® Core™ i7-12700 Processor

Also note that some of those numbers really are frequencies that the CPU hit for very, very short amounts of time. On my Ryzen for example it’s listed at hitting like 4.9 or whatever and I had to use a separate utility to actually see that happen since Task Manager ‘missed it’, it’s that short of a boost. So it might look like the CPU is never hitting 4.9 and instead is boosting only to 4.7 or whatever, but there will be short bursts where it does go up as high as advertised - assuming the conditions are met (temperature etc).

No, the base speed is the max it will reach without Turbo…
The minimum core ratio for Intel is 8, which is 800 MHz at a base clock of 100 MHz.
You’re answering with such assurance ! But you’re wrong :wink:

This is why I would always get K versions over non-K.
With non-K versions, the Turbo settings are not available in the BIOS, and are internally set to very low time and threshold values. For example, If CPU temp is < 40°C for 30 sec, then max Boost time allowed = 20 sec, but if Temp > 70°C then Boost start to throttle to avoid the Temp get higher.
I just took random numbers as an example, but the functioning is really close to that, you get the idea.

In K versions however, the Boost time is unlimited, and there is no threshold, meaning that the CPU can run at 4.9 GHz for as long as you want.

On top of what @Louis_R has put above, the newer CPU’s now have P and E cores (Performance and Efficiency) which may confuse a little bit.

So the i7 12 Core CPU actually has 10 Performance cores (2.1-4.9 ghz), and 2 Efficiency cores (1.6-3.6 ghz).

It’s multi-threaded too so you would see 20 Performance threads within Cubase. Don’t own a CPU with ‘E’ cores so not sure how they show up in Cubase - Curious myself, actually.

Is this an off the shelf machine you’re looking at, or doing a self build? Also were you looking at how it compared to your laptop in Cubase? If so, what was your old laptop CPU?

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My old laptop was a Dell Inspiron with an i7 7500U CPU upgraded with an SSD and 16Gb of RAM. It gave me a decent track count for what I do but I could not get as many VSTi’s as I would have liked.

Looking at another off the shelf option ASUS Vivo (Intel 11th Generation Core i7 11370H), ASUS Zen (Intel 11th Generation Core i7 1195G7), and an XPS desktop which is the i7 12700. A max of around $1500.00 is all I can afford at this time.

Base frequency refers to the CPU’s regular operating point.

Regular doesn’t equal maximum. Regular equals regular.

Stop beating around the bush, Mattias.

While we’re on the subject, are any of these optimizations outdated, particularly 16 and 17? Thanks.

  1. Disable system sounds
  2. Adjust your processor scheduling to Background Services
  3. Adjust your PC’s power options to high performance
  4. Make sure your PC doesn’t suspend your USB devices
  5. Disable Windows Updates
  6. Turn off Windows Firewall and anti-virus apps
  7. Switch off animated windows
  8. Switch off your screensaver
  9. Update your PC’s graphics driver
  10. Update your PC’s network adapter driver
  11. Turn off USB power management
  12. Optimize hard disk. Uncheck Compress this drive to save disk space and Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed
  13. Disable user account control
  14. Disable Fast Boot
  15. Run your DAW as an Administrator
  16. Disable advanced power-saving and dynamic performance options for your CPU
    This usually needs to be done in the BIOS or UEFI of your computer and includes Enhanced Intel SpeedStep (EIST), AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet, Intel Turbo Boost, and AMD Turbo CORE.
  17. Disable C-States in the BIOS/UEFI, if your computer’s BIOS/UEFI gives you this option
    C-States allow your CPU to sleep when idle, which may interfere with real-time applications such as audio. This option is often called “Disable CPU Idle State for Power Saving” in the BIOS/UEFI.
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I just quoted Intel. Take it up with them.

Ignore 15 as that can create problems if you run Cubase as admin mode within a user profile.

As for the rest, I run my machines as a standard desktop install and only look into changing system settings if I get problems - which is incredibly rare nowadays,.

Modern CPU’s are incredibly efficient, as is the software that runs in the background, sometimes tinkering with bios and o/s settings can bring more harm than good.

That said, most of my projects are probably using 50-60% of resources and I’m very au fait with computing to know if an issue occurs what I need to do to correct it…

On a windows machine DPC latency is the most critical factor for real-time audio stability, and disabling GPU and unused network drivers can very much help that. Rather than going from a fixed list I’d much rather approach it from that angle really.

In my mind, The more standard your install is, the more you’ll fit the common demographic and thus less likely to experience issues.

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You quoted your own words LMFAO

Such a statement has never been documented anywhere by Intel ! 2.1 GHz is NOT the minimum, it is the maximum frequency the CPU can reach without Turbo Boost.
I have build my own 4000€ set-up so I know quite a bit about CPU tech, and although I don’t know everything, I don’t brag like if that was the case, unlike you.
If you have spent at least one hour experimenting with advanced BIOS settings, you would know that already, but it doesn’t seem to be the case !
Saying that the CPU won’t drop below that, is completely wrong.

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No, I didn’t.

" What Does Turbo Frequency Mean?

Intel CPU specifications list both Max Turbo Frequency and Processor Base Frequency. The processor base frequency refers to the CPU’s regular operating point, while the Max Turbo Frequency refers to the maximum speed the processor can achieve using Intel® Turbo Boost Technology."

That’s from Intel directly: CPU Speed: What Is CPU Clock Speed? | Intel

From the perspective of your average end user that doesn’t screw around deep inside BIOS it’s far more reasonable to look at base frequency as being the regular operating frequency of the CPU, not a maximum. In other words a user that drops that CPU into a board and boots the computer can expect regular CPU speed to be just what it says is the base speed.

Further more it only gets confusing to say that base frequency is a maximum number - firstly because in any average conversation the “base” is the lower number - but also because we know these CPUs do boost higher when needed. So again from the user perspective it’s more useful to think of base as being the normal regular speed of the CPU and then it sometimes boosts above that.

Lastly, buddy - I was being dispassionate about this. I thought the word “max” was just confusing and I addressed that. Not once did I make this about you. I did not make this personal. I did not accuse you of bragging or anything like that.

So, since you think that for some reason it’s appropriate to accuse me of bragging you can simply sod off to my ignore list.

1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 13 are irrelevant.
But beware with 10 if you are using Waves plugins. The licenses are based on the Network Adapter version, so if you ever plan to update it, I’d highly recommend to deactivate the licenses first, or you’ll have to recover them (limited to one time per 12 months, already happened to me).
In any case you should disable automatic updates for peripherals under System > Advanced (you didn’t list that one).

3, 16 and 17 : This is a complicated subject as it depends on many variables. I have posted my own settings on this topic plus some nice tweaks.

4 and 11 : Yes, you should disable USB Suspend in Power Scheme settings, and eventually in Device manager in the case your audio interface have such an option, but I won’t touch anything else.

6 : You should only and always keep Windows Security enabled. Anti-virus programs that effectively cause performance issues are the third-party ones so you should never ever install those. Same goes for driver updaters, or programs that “keep your computer healthy”. Avoid at all costs.

12 : Yes, you should disable indexing on all your drives.

14 : Never enable Fast Boot or you can have trouble accessing the BIOS, so yes, keep it disabled.

15 : As @skijumptoes said, and also stated in many places in this forum, you should not run the DAW as an Administrator because that can cause issues. Cubase hasn’t been designed to be run as an Administrator.

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One more question.

Is it worthwhile to perform a clean reinstall of Windows in order to purge all the bloatware that comes with off the shelf computers that are preloaded with the OS?


Yes, if you’re starting a new laptop anyway, installing Windows fresh from scratch is a good idea.

And may i ask who you are to give out this sort of information ?

Wind your neck in mate, he’s spent time answering someone’s question on a forum who’s wanting advice, not writing the ultimate guide.

Just make sure you get all drivers updated though. I think my laptop was missing a good trackpad driver for a while and it wasn’t a good experience until that was installed (which happened later via a Win update or I did it myself - can’t remember).

see above in bold, also:

I never ever had a problem accessing BIOS because of “Fast Boot”. Maybe AMD systems are just better than Intel, but I doubt that’s the case.

As for running as Admin I haven’t had a problem with that either, and I’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with Cubase or Nuendo because it “hasn’t been designed to be run as an Administrator”, whatever that entails. If people have had those problems I haven’t seen it.