CPU maximum power consumption

CPU manufacturers generally provide the thermal design power (TDP) in watts (W) of their processors. This information corresponds to the energy that the CPU cooling system must be able to dissipate for the CPU to operate correctly. The higher it is, the more heat the cooling system needs to dissipate.

On the other hand, it is often more difficult to find what is the CPU maximum power consumption, you may have to dig deep into some technical documents to find this information. The CPU maximum power consumption is often much higher than the thermal design power (TDP) and it is therefore an important information to consider when choosing the proper PSU or cooling system for a computer.

The CPU will generally only hit this maximum power consumption for a few seconds, when it is performing some very heavy tasks. But even if it is rarely achieved, the computer PSU and the motherboard must be able to supply this amount of energy to the CPU. If not, the computer may become unstable and crash, display an error message, restart, or it may even be damaged in the worst case scenario. A high power consumption will also results in an higher temperature, and if it becomes too high, the CPU will automatically lower its frequency (this is called throttling) in order to reduce its power consumption and its temperature.

The maximum CPU power consumption corresponds to the PL2 (Power Level 2) for Intel processors and the PPT (Power Package Tracking) for AMD processors. Some motherboards will even allow to override these limits in order to improve performance. The maximum power consumption of the microprocessor will then depend on the number of processor cores, its microarchitecture and on the increase in voltage and frequency (something that is called overclocking).

The following table contains the thermal design power (TDP) and the maximum power consumption for some of the current CPUs in 2021. Please note that this information is only valid for the original CPU frequencies and voltages, the power consumption can be different in case they have been modified by the user or the motherboard.

CPU name Cores / (Threads) Thermal design power (TDP) Maximum power consumption (PL2 or PPT)
Intel Core i9-12900K 16/(24) 125 W 241 W
Intel Core i7-12700K 12/(20) 125 W 190 W
Intel Core i5-12600K 10/(16) 125 W 150 W
Intel Core i9-11900K 8/(16) 125 W 251 W
Intel Core i7-11700K 8/(16) 125 W 251 W
Intel Core i5-11600K 6/(12) 125 W 224 W
Intel Core i5-11400 6/(12) 65 W 154 W
Intel Core i5-10600K 6/(12) 125 W 182 W
Intel Core i5-10400 6/(12) 65 W 134 W
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16/(32) 105 W 142 W
AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12/(24) 105 W 142 W
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X 8/(16) 105 W 142 W
AMD Ryzen 5 5600X 6/(12) 65 W 88 W
AMD Ryzen 5 3600X 6/(12) 95 W 125 W
AMD Ryzen 3 3300X 4/(8) 65 W 88 W

As you can see, the maximum consumption of the CPU may be much higher than the thermal design power (TDP). It is therefore important to keep this in mind when choosing the CPU, the motherboard and the power supply unit.

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