Definition of Thermal Design Power TDP

Definition and Explanation of Thermal Design Power

What is TDP?

Have you been reading a CPU or graphics card review and run across the term TDP? Do you wonder what exactly TDP is and how it affects performance?

Definition:


TDP stands for Thermal Design Power. And while many computer users may think it equates to the maximum amount of power a component can run at, that isn't the case. TDP is technically the max amount of power the cooling system needs to dissipate in order to keep the chip at or below its maximum temperature.

For instance, a 244 watt TDP on a graphics card means the cooler can siphon out up to 244 watts of heat to keep the GPU in check. Typically the higher the TDP or a graphics card or CPU is the greater amount of power consumed by the part.

This is a very important figure to have in mind if you are intending to use a third party cooler with a CPU or GPU. You must have a cooler that is rated at or above the the TDP of the part the cooler will be attached to. In addition, if you are planning on overclocking the part, you will need to have a cooler that is rated above the TDP of the part in order to properly cool it. Failure to have a properly rated TDP cooler can result in decreased lifespan of the graphics card or CPU in addition to thermal shutdowns when the parts are pushed too hard.