What is Thermal Design Power (TDP)?
Thermal Design Power (TDP) is a measure of the amount of heat generated by a component (such as a CPU, GPU, or an IC) that a cooling system is designed to dissipate. Computer components are generally associated with a TDP rating, which is measured in the units of watts (W). TDP values are often used by manufacturers of electronic components in the appropriate design of cooling systems for such components. Therefore, TDP may also be defined as the maximum power a processor can dissipate while running any software to prevent overheating. For example, a component with 12 W TDP could potentially be cooled by a passive heat-sink, while a Core i5-2500 processor with 195 W TDP would require a dedicated heat-sink.
For example, when playing a gaming application, a CPU may exceed its specified TDP resulting in overloading of the computer’s cooling system. In this case, if the maximum junction temperature within the processor is reached, thermal throttling may occur to protect the CPU from thermal damage. The TDP is usually 20-30% lower than the actual amount of maximum power that a CPU can dissipate. Two points to note when assessing TDP values are, (1) the TDP readings listed by manufacturers are not standardized and vary according to their research work, and (2) the TDP should not be confused with the power consumed by an electric component in question, even though, they both are measured in the units of watts.