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How to Enable All Cores in Windows 10

The concept of multi-cores was a significant breakthrough in what we could have computers do for us. At the end of the day, you can think of a core as an independent functioning CPU in itself. Therefore, a multi-core processor unit means that you have more than 1 CPU working together (not that straightforward technically) for efficient task management, be it playing games, opening a file, while in the background, you’re also running an antivirus scan, etc.

In most of the modern PCs and laptops/tablets, etc. running Windows 10, the chances are that your unit is already a multi-core processor. Which begs the question: How to enable all cores in Windows 10?

Changing Number of Cores/How to Enable All Cores in Windows 10 (Note: Only Applies to Boot)

Before we dive into it, note that whatever your default settings are, it’s likely attuned in a manner that if needed, it will utilize multiple cores. For the most part, when your operating system loads up fully, Windows will leverage all available cores.

Having said that, there is a way where you can manually override the pre-built settings by following the instructions below. And as stated, note that this only applies to your boot settings — which is where the whole confusion stems from. In other words, understand that booting your operating system is an entirely separate process from when you start using your OS — after boot. Above all, you’ll later learn that this whole exercise is unnecessary because your OS already has the instructions to utilize all cores — from the get-go.

In any case, coming back to changing the number of cores (technically logical processors) during boot, follow the instructions below:

  1. Select Windows Key + R, type in msconfig, and hit your enter key.
opening msconfig from windows run
Opening msconfig from Windows run.
  1. Next, from the boot tab, select Advanced options.
selecting msconfig boot advanced options
As illustrated, select Advanced options.
  1. Finally, hit the checkbox marked for “number of processors,” choose how many you’d want, select OK and then apply.
changing number of core processors in Windows 10
As the final step, change your number of processors here, hit OK, and then Apply. As a safe measure, perhaps restart your device for the changes to take effect.

Note that step 3 is where you can enable all logical processors in your Windows 10 operating system. Simply select the maximum number, and you’re good to go.

Now, having all of this laid out, as mentioned before, chances are your Windows is already tweaked in a manner to use all of your cores. (Realize that you only changed the processors, not actual cores). It’s likely that adjusting your number of processors this way may not do anything in terms of performance — and that what you did here, mostly affects the boot process only.

However, if you want to know how many cores you have in the first place, follow along.

How to Know How Many Cores You Have?

To know the number of cores in your Windows 10 device, you can go to your task manager > performance tab. (A shortcut to open task manager is CTRL + SHIFT + ESC). Then, in the right section where you have a live graph display of the CPU Percentage (%) Utilization, one of the data points would be cores — that exhibits how many cores you have.

how to view number of cores in windows 10
Viewing the number of cores in Windows 10, via the Task Manager Performance Tab.

You can take an additional step to dive down individually into all logical processors by right-clicking into the graph and then selecting change graph to > logical processors. Doing so will break down the live feed into the number of logical processors you have. See the screenshot below for reference.

changing performance live graph in task manager by logical processors
As shown, when you switch to the logical processors view, you can see the utilization % by processor.

Alternatively, you can verify your task manager information by searching for “system information” in the start menu and opening that app. Once done, look for a line item called processor. For its “value,” hover your mouse over it so that the system can display the complete processor information, including the number of cores and logical processors.

verifying number of cores in Windows 10 via the system information app
Verifying the number of cores in Windows 10 via the system information app.

You Should Also Know

What Is the Difference Between a Core and a Logical Processor?

The way these work is not as simple as you’d think, but on a high-level, your logical processor would be twice the number of cores — if HyperThreading is enabled. So for instance, my device has 2 cores and 4 logical processors.
A core is a physical processor component that actually occupies space in your device. In contrast, a logical processor speaks more to a single core’s ability to perform tasks simultaneously.

Should I Actually Change the Number of Logical Processors Through msconfig?

I think you should not. You would have noticed that the checkbox for the number of processors is un-selected by default, which means the original settings are already optimized. When you select it, and say, you end up choosing a smaller number than the maximum allowed, you may inadvertently slow things down and cause instability. Also, as stated, realize that this setting only relates to the booting of your OS.

When to Tweak Around With Number of Logical Processors?

Typically, this setting is mostly in place for developers or programmers who want to diagnose a specific issue, or want to take notes of booting performance, etc. For regular users like you and I, we honestly shouldn’t bother ourselves with this setting.
Inherently, Windows OS will use the maximum number of cores after it has successfully booted.

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Conclusion

Many experts agree that tweaking your number of logical processors this way doesn’t really help you — and that there seems to be some confusion about Windows booting time versus standard Windows usage.

The Advanced Boot options setting that was discussed in this post, only applies during a booting event. Otherwise, as for the rest, you’d find that consensus seems to be on the fact that Windows will decide to use all available cores.

If anything, the Task Manager CPU percentage utilization method shown here should indicate that all is working the way it’s supposed to.