Do you know what CPU you have and how fast it works? And is it fast enough to run Windows 10 on a capable clip? We can answer the last question right away: as long as you have a PC-compatible CPU made in the past five years, there’s little reason to believe it won’t run on Windows 10. The minimum Windows 10 processor specification is only 1 GHz, after all.
However, there are some limitations for older processors and in these cases you want details about which CPU you are using. For example, 2011 Sandy Bridge processors can run earlier versions of Windows 10, but those chips have been deprecated and are not supported by newer versions of the operating system.
If you have a modern processor and are concerned about how well your PC will run, consider adding incremental upgrades such as adding more RAM or getting an SSD for primary internal storage. This will likely give your system the boost it needs, even for machines with lower CPUs.
However, if your PC needs to perform powerful tasks such as video editing or video playback then it is a good idea to get to know your CPU. You may think it̵
How to find your CPU data in Windows
First, let’s start by quickly figuring out which processor you have. In Windows 10, tap the Windows key + the letter “I” on your keyboard to open the Settings app. From there you go to System> AboutScroll down to the ‘Device specifications’ heading and you will see your CPU name and base clock speed. In our example we can see that this laptop runs on a “Kaby Lake” Intel Core i3-7100U with a base speed of 2.4 GHz.
If you want a little more information, type Task management in Windows 10 search bar to launch this utility. Expand Task Manager from the home state by clicking More detailAmong the Performance tab in the new window, it shows your CPU name, base speed, number of cores and threads (logical processors) and the size of your various caches. In this example, we have a six-core Ryzen 5 2600 currently running at 2.11 GHz, with a base speed of 3.4 GHz
Both approaches to determining your processor are a good start, but here’s the problem with CPUs: those basic specs don’t tell you much about how well the processor actually works. The annoying thing about CPUs is that clock speeds (those numbers measured in gigahertz) are relative within a generation. For example, a 10-year-old dual-core 2.5GHz Sandy Bridge processor is not the same as a dual-core 2.5GHz Comet Lake processor from last year.
The same goes for a simple core count. While it’s generally more useful than looking at clock speeds, a higher number of cores still doesn’t necessarily tell you if one CPU is better than another between generations. There can be dramatic performance improvements, and – when comparing over a wide enough generation gap – a CPU with fewer cores can beat an older processor with more cores.
The differences in both cases are due to improvements in CPU design, instruction set, instructions per cycle (IPC), and other changes. The bottom line is that different generations of processors on paper are not easily comparable.
A newer processor is generally the faster option, but not always… that’s why the best way is to benchmark and compare your CPU with other systems. Comparisons can be done online as many CPU benchmark tests either have built-in comparison tables or there are third-party sites that host results from other users, as we explained in our tutorial on how to benchmark your PC.
You can also follow our CPU ratings here at PCWorld and run some of the same tests we do for comparison. Keep in mind that our reviews use high-quality components that can help squeeze a little more performance out of a system than mid-range parts.
If you’re not running tests, you can check out sites like UserBenchmark that provide direct comparisons of two processors based on a database of user-provided benchmarks. This data is not from lab-quality test results, but it should give you a general idea of its performance.
If even that is too much of a hassle, then you can rely on a basic rule to guide your decision on whether or not to upgrade: if your PC stops upgrading to newer versions of Windows 10, or if incremental upgrades like RAM and SSDs don’t notice the system performance upgrade to a more modern processor is probably okay.