what is clock speed

Clock speed is the speed by which the processor of a computer executes each instruction conveyed to it in a specific cycle. In other words, clock speed is the measure of the overall performance of a processor.

The greater the clock speed, the better will be the functioning of all the programs in a computer.

Though clock speed is generally linked with Central Processing Unit (CPU), there are other parts of a PC in which it has its applications.

Below, we have curated a guide explaining everything there is to know about the clock speeds in CPU, GPU, RAM, and VRAM.
So, without further ado, let’s begin!

What is Clock Speed in a CPU?

In the case of a CPU, the clock speed is the measure of the frequency of cycles that your CPU carries out in one second.

A ‘cycle’ is a pulse synchronized by an internal oscillator which enables the CPU to read an array of instructions that are received from assorted programs. In each of such cycles, there are billions of transistors involved that continuously open and close.

The majority of the modern CPUs measure the frequency of cycles in GHz (gigahertz). A frequency of say, 2.4 GHz, means that 2.4 billion cycles are being carried out per second.

As mentioned before, clock speed governs the speed by which different programs run on a PC but when it comes to gaming, the impact of clock speed is dependent upon the game’s engine and the tools used for its creation.

Some games prefer multi-core CPUs over single-core CPUs while most of the games experience a boost in their performance through enhanced clock speed rather than the number of cores.

To increase the clock speed of the CPU, you can give overclocking a try, a process by which the performance of your CPU will hit its absolute maximum.

What is Clock Speed in RAM?

Measured generally in MHz, the clock speed of Random-Access Memory (RAM) indicates the number of times the RAM can access its memory.

Every single program that you launch gets loaded into RAM from your SSD/HDD (that have slower speeds). This explains why by upgrading the RAM’s speed, you are indirectly improving your CPU’s performance.

For RAM, overclocking can be a good option, though not necessary since the benefits are quite minimal. However, since your computer’s entire operating system relies on the RAM one way or the other, if your operating system lags a lot, you must give this option a thought!

Additionally, overclocking of RAM is not as risky as the overclocking of CPUs or GPUs; not only is there much less heat release, there is hardly any noise.

What is Clock Speed in a GPU?

The clock speed of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) or engine clock determines how fast the graphics are being rendered by the GPU. The higher the clock speed, the faster will be the processing of the graphics.

Similar to a CPU, the engine clock measures the number of cycles executed by the GPU in a second. However, the commonly used unit for the GPUs in megahertz (MHz), unlike for the CPU.

Just like it does for a CPU, overclocking has its upsides on the performance side, it all comes at the risk of permanent damage to the hardware’s health.

What is Memory Clock Speed in GPU?

The clock speed of GPU’s memory, generally known as VRAM is just as important to a GPU as the clock speed of RAM is to a CPU. While the core clock speed defines the speed of the GPU’s chip, the memory clock speed pertains to the speed of the VRAM.

Since the function of VRAM revolves around the temporary storage of assets like graphics’ textures and images, having a faster VRAM will not only mean that a greater number of such assets will be stored but also, the processing of graphics will be much quicker.

Specifically, for video games, while the engine clock directly affects the frame rate, the VRAM’s clock speed can have a slight impact on the FPS, and it varies from game to game.

On average, a higher clock speed of VRAM can result in an FPS boost of 1-10%, depending on which game you’re playing.
When it comes to overclocking the VRAM, it’s not that dangerous. However, if you own an expensive GPU with say, 8 GB of memory, then you’re have nothing to worry about.

Boost Clock in GPU

Boost Clock is a built-in feature in a GPU that is set by the manufacturer to raise its performance whenever there is a heavy workload.

What boost clock does is that it increases the core clock speed so that it reaches its maximum threshold, resulting in the best GPU performance and hence, FPS.

However, if you intend to overclock your GPU, the boost clock feature will be useless because overclocking changes the whole base core of the GPU.


All things considered, whether it’s a CPU, a GPU, RAM, or VRAM, clock speed plays a fundamental role in its operation.
To tweak the basic clock speed of any of these computer components for enhanced performance, you can resort to overclocking after weighing in its pros and cons.

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