Core Count vs. Clock Speed – What is More Dominant in CPU?

Being in the tech industry I am being asked numbers of times, in CPUs what matters the more, core counts or clock speed. Neither more core counts won’t be beneficial nor clock speed alone, what we need is the best mix of both. Let’s understand the concept in detail.


Without going into CPU’s architecture or what magic manufacturer adds, I’d try to keep this as general as possible without using any technical jargon.

  • More Cores = More Multitasking
  • Higher Clock Speed = Faster Task Completion

More cores can allow us to do multitasking, and higher clock speed enables us to complete tasks faster. I hope, you got my point. We can not fit more cores in a small form factor, we already reached a minimum size we can that is 7nm architecture where CPUs are much more efficient. Research on 5 nm is already going on, but it is not that affordable.

A user can not use more than 8 or 16 cores unless he is superman or doing any beefy stuff. On another side, higher clock speed consumes more power and generates more heat which is also not useful because then we need to invest more in cooling systems.

So what we need is the best mix, as of now CPU with 8 cores (16 threads) and about 3.6 GHz clock speed is more than enough for any kind of work at least at the consumer level.

For gaming or streaming, you should aim for higher clock speed but keep the core counts to 4 cores (8 threads) as a minimum. Most of the games support around 2 or 4 threads. For AAA titles and future-ready system, make sure you have 8 cores (16 threads) CPU. In gaming, you need to invest more in a GPU than a CPU.

For video editing, you should aim for more number of cores with decent clock speed. If video editing is your regular job, then directly buy a CPU with 8 cores (16 threads) or more. Parallel processing is more common in the video editing field.

You need to understand your work environment first. Some application demands more core, some demands higher clock speed. So better you learn your work profile first.

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