How to Check the Mac Processor Speed

Oct 23, 2010 - 5 Comments

An example of a computer processor chip

Want to know how fast a Mac is? You can check a Macs processor clock speed, chip type, and CPU architecture a few different ways, but we’ll cover two quick methods to determine the clock speed of a given Mac. First, a super easy glance at processor speed through the GUI, and second, a more advanced way to find processor details through the command line.

Check a Mac CPU the Easy Way from the Apple menu

Finding the CPU details of a Mac this way is the same in all versions of OS X:

  1. Go up to the Apple menu and select “About This Mac”
  2. how to check mac processor speed

  3. The About This Mac overview screen will reveal processor details as well as much more about the given Macintosh

See a Macs processor speed and chip type in OS X

This window shows what version of Mac OS X you are running, what your processor and processor speed is, and how much memory your Mac has, amongst other details.

Older versions of OS X has the same window, but it looks slightly different:

check mac processor speed

If you want, you can then go through and check CPU usage through the Mac Task Manager, known as the Activity Monitor.

Check a Macs CPU via the Command Line

The GUI is easy, but what fun is that? What if you want to check a machines processor remotely through ssh? Maybe you’re stuck in Single User Mode and want to check CPU data from the command line? Let’s use the Terminal instead.

Using the following command you can check what the CPU is:

sysctl machdep.cpu.brand_string

The string returned includes both the brand and the clock speed of your Macs processor. For example, you might see:

machdep.cpu.brand_string: Genuine Intel(R) CPU T2500 @ 5.00GHz

Keeping with the theme here, you may then want to monitor what your Mac CPU is doing. If you want a command line activity monitor, use this variation of the ‘top’ command to monitor CPU usage. I like it better than the standard top command because it uses less CPU itself, and it sorts processes by their CPU usage. Give it a go.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: David Mendez in Command Line, Mac OS X


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jason says:

    You can also get this information from the System Profiler but I think for a noob digging around in there isn’t the simplest approach.

    I hadn’t seen that command before, nice tip there.

  2. LordZedd says:

    The terminal command doesn’t work for PPC macs.

  3. […] but these two are detailed and give you the information you need. For the record, there is a much easier way to get this information, just go to “About This Mac” under the  Apple menu. […]

  4. Wrong picture says:

    How do I get the crappy version of About This Mac like what’s in the first screenshot?

Leave a Reply


Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates