How do I determine the type and speed of my processor?
There are multiple ways of determining the speed of the computer processor. Below is a listing of the methods of determining the speed.
Note: Before following any of the steps below, it is important to realize that a processor's settings can be adjusted or overclocked. In other words, software settings could be adjusted to show a speed higher than the actual processor speed. If you feel the system may have been tampered with, the only way of truly knowing a processor's speed is to open the case and physically look at the computer processor (see hardware steps).
If you are running Microsoft Windows, you can determine the processor type and speed by following the steps below.
- Right-click on the My Computer or Computer icon on the Desktop or in the Start Menu.
- Select Properties in the pop-up menu.
Doing either of the above options opens a System Properties window similar to one of the examples below. In the System Properties window, you should see the manufacturer of the processor (e.g. Intel or AMD), the model of the processor (e.g. Core 2), and the speed (e.g. 1.86 GHz). For new versions of Windows, it also shows you the System type, which in the Windows 8 example below shows a 64-bit operating system on an x64 processor.
Windows 7 System Properties Window
In the Windows 8 computer, it has an "Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz 3.40 GHz." Intel is the brand and company of the processor, Core i7-2600 is the model of the processor, and 3.40 GHz is the speed of the processor.
Mac OS users
If you are running Mac OS, you can determine the processor speed by following the steps below.
- Click on the Apple menu (the Apple icon in the top left corner).
- Select About This Mac in the menu.
On the Overview tab, look for the Processor entry, which will list the speed of the processor in your Mac computer.
In a Linux OS, you can use one of the following commands to view information about the processor in the computer.
$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
$ less /proc/cpuinfo
$ more /proc/cpuinfo
If you purchased the computer from an OEM like Dell or HP, the manufacturer should include documentation that lists the system specifications of the computer. If you don't have documentation, you can also usually find this online after entering the model or Service Tag of the computer.
Most computers show the computer processor speed as the computer boots. For example, as the computer boots, you may see text displayed on the screen like the following:
Intel Pentium(TM) III 1000MHz
The above example indicates that the computer has an Intel processor running at 1GHz, or 1000MHz.
Note: Unfortunately, the boot process can be very fast. You may have little or no time to read all that is on the screen during one boot. Also, many motherboard and computer manufacturers have a BIOS splash screen as the computer boots up showing the company or motherboard logo. Press the ESC key to display the text behind the logo. Finally, you can also press the Pause key to pause the boot process allowing you to read all the text.
If the computer does not have documentation or does not indicate the processor speed as it boots, it is also possible that the processor speed will be listed in the CMOS Setup. This information will be listed under the main or advanced settings of CMOS Setup.
There are also a wide variety of software utilities designed to list and detect the computer processor. See the third-party tools in the link below for a listing of the most popular programs designed to detect system hardware.
The best method of determining the computer processor speed would be to physically look at the actual processor. It is important to note that this option may not be available if a non-removable heat sink is attached to the processor.
Power down the computer, open the chassis, and locate the computer processor.
Once the processor has been located, if the computer processor is a slot processor, the processor speed, cache, and other information can be located on the side of the processor. For example, a slot processor may have a listing of numbers similar to 500/512/100/2.0V, which is:
500 MHz Processor
512 KB Cache
100 Bus Speed
If your processor is a socket processor, determining the speed may be more difficult. The CPU information is located on the top of the processor itself (see our CPU definition for an example). However, it is more than likely that a heat sink is attached to the processor. Before the speed can be determined, the heat sink must be removed. Once removed, if white paste (thermal compound) is on the processor, it needs to be wiped away. However, keep in mind you need to have more paste that can be applied later to the processor. A socket processor may have a listing of information similar to 1000/256/133/1.7, which is:
1000 MHz Processor
256 KB Cache
133 Bus Speed