Tech Tip: Understand the processor speed report

Has this ever happened to you? You open the System Properties dialog box and notice that the processor speed reported in the Computer section on the General tab is slower than the actual speed.

If so, don't worry. One of the adjustments made to the operating system from a January 2002 patch configures Windows XP to use the currentspeed value reported by the CPU rather than the maxspeed value. Microsoft made this change because the maxspeed value was reporting inconsistent values.

There are two situations where the currentspeed value would be slower than the maxspeed value:

  • If you open the System Properties dialog box immediately after booting the computer, no programs have really used all the processor cycles. Therefore, the CPU itself hasn't really reached maximum speed.
  • If you're running a laptop on battery power, the laptop may be using a system (such as Intel SpeedStep or AMD PowerNow! Technology) that throttles back the CPU in order to reduce power consumption.

But regardless of what value the System Properties dialog box reports, you can always find the maximum processor speed value in the System Information tool.

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Information.
  2. Select System Summary in the left pane, and locate Processor in the right pane.

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