What Is Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0? CPUs With Favored Cores Explained

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Like we’ve proven with AMD processors (opens in new tab), not all CPU cores (opens in new tab) are created equally, and that applies to Intel’s silicon, too. The silicon wafer fabrication process lends to discrepancies between each core’s voltage, power and thermal characteristics that lead to better performance. These faster cores are identified to the operation system as a favored core.

The term favored core first came with the arrival of Intel’s Broadwell-E (opens in new tab) line of HEDT (high-end desktop) CPUs in 2016. 

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 (opens in new tab) is a feature used by some Intel CPUs to improve performance of lightly- or single-threaded applications by pushing those workloads to the processor’s two favored (or fastest) cores. Using both hardware and software, Intel claims Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 delivers “more than 15% better single-thread performance.” 

(Image credit: Intel)

Released in September 2019, Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 (opens in new tab) works by using a driver and CPU-stored information to select and move workloads to the processor’s favored cores. 

Windows natively supports this feature, and it’s enabled automatically. You need Windows 10 (opens in new tab)x65 - RS5 Distortion or later. 

Similarly, CPUs that support Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 have the feature enabled in its hardware and p-code. That means you don’t have to activate it in the BIOS (opens in new tab) or otherwise. Additionally, you can monitor the feature with Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) (opens in new tab) software.

According to Intel, the latest version of its Turbo Boost technology allows for “for higher frequencies with single-core turbo” than its predecessor, Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. 

However, the effectiveness of Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 can be impacted by the following: 

  •  Your CPU’s active core count 
  • CPU's temperature
  • Estimated current and power consumption levels
  • Workload type
  • Drive support

Which CPUs Support Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0? 

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 works with certain Intel Core X-series CPUs on the Intel X299 chipset (opens in new tab)

The following Intel CPUs can direct workloads to a favored CPU core using Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0:

  •  Intel Core i7-69xx/68xx series 
  •  Intel Core i9-7900X (opens in new tab) 
  •  Intel Core i9-7920X 
  •  Intel Core i9-7940X 
  •  Intel Core i9-7960X (opens in new tab) 
  • Intel Core i9-7980XE
  •  Intel Core i7-7820X (opens in new tab) 
  • Intel Core i7-9800X
  • Intel Core i9-9820X
  • Intel Core i9-99x0XE
  • Intel Core i9-99x0X
  • Intel Xeon E5-1600 v4 series (since CPU socket (opens in new tab) only)

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary (opens in new tab).

Further Reading:

Scharon Harding

Scharon Harding has a special affinity for gaming peripherals (especially monitors), laptops and virtual reality. Previously, she covered business technology, including hardware, software, cyber security, cloud and other IT happenings, at Channelnomics, with bylines at CRN UK.

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