I have Core i5 processor with nominal 2.3 Ghz speed. But, according to Intel Power Gadget, most of the time the frequency is much lower. Even during intensive usage. It's 0.8-1.6 Ghz. I noticed that some operations work slower than they could.

So I'm wondering, is there a way to change default CPU frequency policy? You know, on Windows there are 3 modes, on Linux there are also several options (ondemand, performance, conservative, powersave etc.)

  • @Buscar웃 maybe he want to boil some water :p Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 14:53
  • @Buscar웃 : i3/i5/i7 CPUs are not supported. what do you mean by intensive usage ? Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:05
  • 1
    Could you show us your Activity monitor to see what is slowing it down.
    – Ruskes
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Run the command top in the Terminal. This will tell you where all your CPU and/or memory is going in more detail than activity monitor (man top to learn more about it). My immediate assumption is that your CPU isn't maxing out because it has no reason to. The default power management by both Apple and Intel does its job very well; I would guess you get this slow tab switching when you have lots of applications open, or a few very large ones.

If your Mac is taking time to compress and expand memory, it will run slower. If (heaven forbid) you have actually used more memory than you have physical RAM, your MacBook is dumping dynamic data to the hard drive. This will run SUPER slow, but use relatively few clock cycles.


Running a home made multithread prime calculator on a Quad i7 2.0Ghz here's what I have : Intel Power Gadget picture

As you can see, it goes beyond the nominal CPU speed and reach the Boost limit (2.6Ghz). So I conclude that it depend of how the software is written and how it manage the CPU usage.

So Mac OS seems to automatically allow resources to need it. Maybe when you mean intensive usage it's not so intensive.

  • 2
    ...but you didn't answer the question about CPU performance policy.
    – lid
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:06
  • @lid right ! I'll edit my answer to try to answer it ;) Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:08
  • At those operating conditions, and prolonged time, you will start getting junction leakage and electron migration effects, shortening the life if the IC. AFAIK, the self destruct prevention TC switch is at 110 Dgr. Celsius.
    – Ruskes
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:19
  • 1
    Well, maybe it is not intensive, but why does it work slow then? I mean, sometimes even tab switching or opening system preferences can be a pain (when CPU is actually free). It would be great if it worked on slightly higher frequencies by default.
    – troorl
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:22
  • @troorl maybe your looking to the wrong device which slow your computer down Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 15:25

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