So my laptop's CPU has this turbo boost thing, and it heats up the machine to an uncomfortable degree. So I've used cpufrequtils to keep my CPU at only 1.4GHz, and it hasn't felt any slower and it's gotten cooler.

Though I've noticed now, the frequency won't go below or above 1.4GHz (base being 2.3GHz).

What are the pros & cons of throttling my CPU?

Other than slower performance and a colder machine.

Are there any significant impacts on the machines life, battery life, etc?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ramhound, harrymc, Mureinik, music2myear, DrMoishe Pippik Jun 11 at 0:25

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    As an aside, if you set Maximum processor state to 99% instead of 100% it will disable turbo boost without fixing the frequency. – lx07 Jun 8 at 14:22

Other than speed drop, I'm unaware of any significant cons. It is possible that in high work load environments, you will get less throughput per watt - but from what you describe this should not be an issue. Its conceivable that the battery may deteriorate and you are not aware of it, and if you then set it to run at high speed it could become unstable when running on battery.

On the pro side - less heat so less stress, less noise to dissipate said heat, longer battery life.

I deliberately throttled an x86 pc used as a router for years so I could passively cool it - this did not cause any problems.

  • I'll keep that in mind. But that's great to hear, I'll probably stick with keeping it throttled for now then. – Some Dinosaur Jun 9 at 9:23
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    @fixer1234 Im sorry about that. Its something that frustrates me. It happens because I do most answering from my cellphone, and as a touch typist my mind "incorrectly knows" what it typed was correct - even though I try to reread it and make corrections. ( There is no spellcheck/red squiggles or similar when answering on my mobile!) – davidgo Jun 10 at 19:23

Other than a much slower computer, there is no downside to limiting the frequency. Your laptop will run longer on battery, as it is not drawing as much power. The fans wont spin as often and/or as loud, as they dont need to disappate as much heat. Generally speaking, your computer should last longer. However, in reality, modern laptops are very robust and you shouldnt expect any failures before modifying the CPU frequency.

The real question is what is going on. The turbo boost feature is doing the exact opposite of what you did. It is turning UP the frequency. The advantage is that it speeds up the computer. However, it should only do this when the computer is under heavy load. When the CPU starts getting to hot, it should slow it back down. It really depends on what you consider "uncomfortably hot." Do you have it in your lap? Are the air vents blocked?

Losing almost 1 Ghz (per core) is a massive performance hit. Im genuinely surprised you said you havent noticed it being slower. I can only assume you arent running any CPU intensive programs. Personally, if the speed of my computer dropped almost 50%, I would notice it immediately.

  • Reducing the CPU frequency by 50% doesn’t reduce the speed of the computer by anything like 50%, which is why it’s hard to notice. CPUs in most applications spend most of their time waiting for data from memory, network or disk, and that time is unchanged. – Mike Scott Jun 9 at 6:14
  • Yeah I had it on my lap. To be honest, the air vents were just letting out hot air. Which afaik is normal behaviour on high workloads. But it went into turbo for simple websites and apps (e.g electron). Its kind of funny because since I posted this, I've taken it down to 500MHz. There are small hiccups every now and then, but it works better than ever. I'm using Debian with Xfce, I mainly use it for browsing and coding. – Some Dinosaur Jun 9 at 7:22

If your laptop is overheating then that is likely to have an adverse effect on the lifetime of its components. If it's overheating too badly, the machine might even fail very soon.
Throttling the CPU has no negative effects apart from making the machine slower. You say it hasn't felt any slower, so there's no reason not to throttle in your case. You'll also get more battery use between charges, and there will probably be less fan noise

  • Yes, it isn't overheating badly. It just goes into turbo boost every now and then and heats up, even for small tasks like websites. But that's great to hear. – Some Dinosaur Jun 9 at 9:18

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