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

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Like we’ve proven with AMD processors, not all CPU cores 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 line of HEDT (high-end desktop) CPUs in 2016. 

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0

Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 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 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 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 or otherwise. Additionally, you can monitor the feature with Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) 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

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

This article is part of the Tom's Hardware Glossary

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