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I have an Intel Core i7 3610QM (Ivy Bridge) in my laptop. According to Core Temp, the TDP (thermal design power) is 45 watts. However, when turbo boosting to the max (3.1 GHZ) on all 8 threads with 100% CPU activity and heavy usage of the integrated GPU, I have never seen the power go above 35 watts.

Why does it seem like the processor could be using 10 more watts of power that it seems like it doesn’t have the capability to use? Maybe my understanding of TDP is flawed?

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TDP (thermal design power) is not the maximum amount of power that a CPU will use at full load, but a measure of how quickly your cooling system should be capable of dissipating heat. Generally you don’t want it to exceed the rating for your cooling, because if it did that it would overheat and shut down, so being lower than TDP is not a bad thing!

  • Not a bad answer, but if you could provide some links and quotes of other sources explaining TDP in the context you describe that would make it better. The Wikipedia article on TDP is a pretty good starting point. – JakeGould May 17 '15 at 16:26
  • I guess the thing to make clear is that while people often use TDP as a handy ballpark for how much power a CPU might consume, it's not actually a power consumption rating. – Ash May 17 '15 at 22:41
  • but if the TDP is 45 watts, shouldn't the power consumtion still get somewhere near there maxed out? Or is the TDP a conservitive rating? – Blaine May 18 '15 at 12:05
  • It is both conservative and the TPD shown is often put into a few ranges. E.gf. [Up to 35W] [35-45W] [65W] [95W] [130W] ... A CPU which needs a cooler dissipating about 100W would be labeled with the [130] tag. – Hennes Sep 6 '16 at 12:04

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