You could argue that the age of the smartphone is largely what has inspired PC, and especially laptop, manufacturers to make their devices faster. Now, our friends at Tom’s Hardware have taken this concept to its limit, building a computer that boots to Windows 10 in just 4.9 seconds.
For the record, that’s nearly five times as fast as the time it took an iPhone XS in our offices to reach its home screen from a cold boot (hitting the power button when the system is completely off).
Granted, these are two wildly different devices, but if smartphone-like boot times are what PC makers are after (i.e. Qualcomm and its partners) these days, Tom’s Hardware just tweaked the bar considerably. So, how did they do it?
Getting a PC to boot faster than an iPhone
The Tom’s Hardware team has detailed its journey to this lightning fast PC in a comprehensive article, but its strategy largely consists of three factors: the solid-state drive (SSD), the motherboard in use and overclocking the processor.
First, the SSD in use here was the Intel Optane 905p (960GB), which Tom’s Hardware is now saying is the fastest SSD it has ever tested with these results as proof. This is a drive using the NVMe storage format, which Tom’s recommends for the fastest speeds (and we agree).
Next, the motherboard is shown to have a massive impact on boot times through the work of Tom’s Hardware. There is so much preparation the motherboard needs to get through before the contents of your SSD, e.g. the operating system, even begin to load. However, not only did Tom’s Hardware use the ASRock Z370M Pro4 motherboard with Microsoft’s Fast Boot feature, but the team tweaked the motherboard to bypass certain checks it would normally make before beginning the OS boot process.
Finally, the Tom’s Hardware overclocked the processor in use, the 3.7GHz Intel Core i7-8700K, way beyond its base clock speed to a whopping 5.1GHz, which shaved 0.57 seconds off of the boot time.
So, while we definitely won’t be seeing laptops, PCs or even smartphones that boot in under five seconds regularly anytime soon, leave it to Tom’s Hardware to show us that it’s possible and therefore raised the bar.