Most modern central processing units (CPUs) are now equipped with multiple cores. Each core is an independent processor that your system can use to perform tasks. These multiple cores can then work together to perform different tasks simultaneously, increasing speed and performance.
By default, both Windows 11 and Windows 10 support multi-core processors and activate all cores by default. However, these can be disabled manually, primarily through the system BIOS and within Windows.
This post discusses how you can enable all CPU cores supported by your CPU and operating system (if disabled), as well as its repercussions.
Table of contents
Why Enable All CPU Cores
By default, Windows itself manages the available CPU cores. They are only used when required to speed up the tasks. However, you can manually enable some or all of them.
If you think that your computer is performing slow and can do better, you can manually enable all cores so the workload between them is divided, resulting in faster performance. However, doing so will have consequences.
Enable All CPU Cores In Windows 11/10
To manage CPU cores from within Windows, you must first ensure that the respective capabilities are enabled in BIOS. There are 2 main functionalities that need to be managed from BIOS:
- Multi Core Support
Enable All Physical CPU Cores from BIOS
First things first: configure your System BIOS to use all physical cores in the processor. To do this, you need to look for Multi Core Support (or relevant) settings in your BIOS and select All.
Restart your computer and access BIOS settings. From there, navigate to Multi Core Support and select the All option, as in the image below:
Do not exit BIOS yet. Rather, perform the next steps given below.
HyperThreading is Intel proprietary function that splits a physical core on a CPU into virtual cores (or logical processors), where each acts as an independent processor.
This means even more tasks can be executed simultaneously, further increasing the performance of the processor. For example, having 4 physical cores with HyperThreading enabled would split each core into 2, making 8 logical cores/processors.
This feature also needs to be enabled through System BIOS. Look for HyperThreading settings in BIOS, and then select the Enabled option.
Now that it is enabled, you can save the settings and exit BIOS.
Enable All Logical CPU Cores
Once you are done with BIOS, boot into Windows and perform the following steps to manually enable all CPU cores:
- Type msconfig in Run to open System Configuration.
- Switch to the Boot tab and click Advanced options.
- Now check the box next to “Number of processors” and then select the highest number available from the drop-down menu below it. Click Ok when done.
- Back in the System Configuration window, click Apply and OK.
- Now restart your computer for the changes to take place by clicking Restart on the dialog box.
Once the computer restarts, you can check that all cores are up and running through the method given in the next step.
How to Check Number of Cores in Windows
You can also know the number of physical cores and the logical cores in Windows. To know this information, launch the Task Manager by using the CTRL + Shift + Esc shortcut keys.
Now switch to the Performance tab, click CPU on the left of the window, and there you will find Cores, which is the actual number of physical cores on your processor, and Logical processors, which is the total number of processors (after HyperThreading) your system currently has.
How to Show All CPU Cores in Task Manager
Another useful piece of information you can benefit from is the performance of each CPU core. This way, you can identify whether you need to enable all CPU cores in the first place.
To view performance graphs on all CPU cores, open the Task Manager using the CTRL + Shift + Esc shortcut keys, and then switch to the Performance tab. From there, click on CPU from the left of the window. Now right-click on the CPU graph, expand Change graph to, and then click Logical processors.
Your graphical view within the Task Manager will now switch to smaller, individual graphs for all CPU cores.
We think that meddling with CPU cores is not the wisest decision. If you are already Windows 10 or 11, we recommend leaving it to default and letting Windows manage the cores for you.
If you think your system can perform better, then you may want to try changing the process affinity. This way, you can free up some CPU cores for more critical tasks.