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Quickly turn turbo boost on or off in Windows


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I've mentioned this in other topics, but I am writing up an article so that I have something to point back to.


The audience for this would specifically be laptop users who are concerned about fan noise or surface temperatures in their system.


Intel continues to push the turbo power limits higher and higher, which means more heat and noise when the CPU enters high turbo boost states.  The CPU does adjust its speed dynamically based on load, but it is (IMO) a bit too eager to hop to high turbo boost speeds when the workload does not call for it.  Web browsing / office workloads do not really need turbo boost speeds, and there may be times when you would be willing to sacrifice speed for quiet.  You can save yourself some power/heat/noise by having the CPU run at the base clock speed.


So, here are a few tricks that you can use to enable and disable turbo boost on the fly.  I personally run my laptops with turbo boost disabled, using one of these methods, and I flip turbo boost on only if I need additional CPU power (maybe gaming, intense database work, or some other kind of number crunching).


I have a few different methods for this, and I will lay them out sort of from least complex to most complex (...and, they build on each other to some degree).  For most people, I think that the first method will work fine.



Using the power slider (Windows 10)


Use the balanced power profile.



Under advanced power settings, set the maximum processor state to 99%.



Side note: If you do not see these power options, then you most likely are running Windows 10 on a system that supports modern standby.  This page has a PowerShell script that you can run as administrator to restore these options.  You can just copy/paste it into a PowerShell window running elevated.  Thanks to @heikkuri for pointing me to this.  I'm also including the script here in case something happens to that page...

$sting77 = "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings"
$querylist =  reg query $sting77
foreach ($regfolder in $querylist){
$querylist2 = reg query $regfolder
    foreach($2ndfolder in $querylist2){
    $active2 = $2ndfolder -replace "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" , "HKLM:"
    Get-ItemProperty -Path $active2
    Set-ItemProperty -Path "$active2" -Name "Attributes" -Value '2'
    $active = $regfolder -replace "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE" , "HKLM:"
    Get-ItemProperty -Path $active
    Set-ItemProperty -Path "$active" -Name "Attributes" -Value '2'



Now, set the power slider that appears when you click the taskbar battery icon to the setting that is second from the right ("better performance").  Note that Windows remembers the power slider setting separately for if you are on AC power or battery power, so you might want to check both.



With this setup, turbo boost is disabled.  You can confirm by checking the Task Manager "performance" tab.  The CPU speed should stay below the CPU's base frequency (probably mid-2 GHz range, depending on the CPU model), no matter what load you throw at it.


If you need more CPU power, just move the power slider to the right.  Turbo boost speeds will be enabled immediately.  (The "Maximum processor state" setting is ignored while the "Best performance" profile is active.)



...You can set the maximum processor state value to something lower than 99% if you find that simply disabling turbo boost is not effective in achieving your desired power/heat/noise limit.  Lower values will further reduce the maximum CPU speed.  Moving the power slider to the right will also still remove any limits on the CPU speed.


(This also works with Windows 11, but it is much less convenient...  Microsoft removed the power slider and replaced it with a drop-down in Settings under Power Management, so you would have to go digging in there to switch between "Better performance" and "Best performance".)



Alternatives to the power slider (for Windows 11?)


You can use the method above, paired with this third-party app BatteryMode.  This app runs as a tray application and allows access to the same settings that the Windows 10 slider gives... albeit they are presented as radio buttons and not a slider.


Set "Balanced" to disable turbo boost and "Best performance" to enable it.  (See the section above, the maximum processor state must also be set to 99%.)


Here, I disabled the "classic" power profiles in BatteryMode settings for a simpler view.



Also, I have produced a command line tool which can adjust the power slider value that works on both Windows 10 and Windows 11, if you would like to work on your own automation.  This post on StackOverflow has answers that describe how to manipulate the slider value from C#/.NET, Python, or PowerShell.



Switch between "Balanced" and "High Performance" power profiles


We don't have to use the Windows 10 power slider.  You could instead switch between the "Balanced" and "High Performance" Windows power profiles and use that to control the turbo boost state.


Set the maximum processor state to 99% on the "Balanced" profile (as described above), but leave it at 100% on the "High Performance" profile.  Now, turbo boost is disabled if you are in the "Balanced" profile but enabled if you are in the "High Performance" profile.  You can switch between the two on the fly.


To quickly switch between profiles, you could use BatteryMode (also described above), with "Classic power schemes" activated... or, just some terminal commands.


Balanced profile:

powercfg -s 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e


High performance profile:

powercfg -s 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c


(Maybe put them in batch files and pin shortcuts to the Taskbar or Start Menu.  I've used this paired with another command that switches the Dell thermal mode between "quiet" and "performance".)


Quick update.  Windows 11, version 22H2 does not allow you to use the "High performance" power profile at all.  You'll have to clone the "Balanced" profile and make adjustments to the copy.  You can do this with:
powercfg /duplicatescheme 381b4222-f694-41f0-9685-ff5bb260df2e


It will output in the console what the GUID for your new power scheme is.  You can change the name with:
powercfg /changename NEW-GUID-HERE "New Name Here"



Use "Processor performance boost mode" instead of "Maximum processor state"


The methods above rely on setting the "Maximum processor state" to 99% to disable turbo boost.  There's a different option for this which is a little bit better, but it is hidden by default.


The downside to 99% maximum processor state is it actually locks your CPU slightly below the base frequency.  A full CPU load will have the CPU reporting 96-99% use in Task Manager and not 100% and it will always stay just shy of your CPU base frequency.


The proper option to use is "Processor performance boost mode".  To enable this setting, go to regedit and navigate to:



Find or create the value "Attributes" (DWORD) and set the data to "2".


Now, there is a new setting on advanced power settings: "Processor performance boost mode".  Set it to "Disabled" on the Balanced profile and leave it at the default on the High Performance profile.  (Set "Maximum processor state" back to 100% on the Balanced profile as well.)  ...There are a number of other settings for this one and I do not know what they all do.



Now, switching between the Balanced and High Performance profiles will disable or enable turbo boost as described in the previous section.  However, using the power slider to dynamically enable or disable turbo boost does not work with this method.  If you want to use the power slider then you must set "Maximum processor state" to 99%.


I learned about this from this article which is talking about the same thing.



Automatically switch power profiles when certain applications run


Instead of having to "remember" to adjust the power slider or switch power profiles when you are running an application that needs more CPU power, you could have a tool do that for you.


Process Lasso has the option to select a specific power profile when a certain process runs.  Set it to use "Balanced" by default and "High performance" when you launch a game or something CPU-intensive.


Somewhat unrelated but I figured that I would note:

With an Intel 12th gen or later CPU (with separate P cores and E cores), there can also be a reduction in heat/noise by locking CPU-consuming background processes to the E cores only.  You can also handle this in Process Lasso with process affinity rules.

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