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GHz vs. MHz — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Updated on May 15, 2024
GHz, or gigahertz, denotes billions of cycles per second and is typically used to measure computer processor speeds, while MHz, or megahertz, signifies millions of cycles per second and is commonly used for radio frequencies.
GHz vs. MHz — What's the Difference?

Difference Between GHz and MHz


Key Differences

GHz stands for gigahertz and represents a unit of frequency equivalent to one billion cycles per second. It is frequently used to describe the clock speeds of modern computer processors, which operate at several gigahertz, such as 3.5 GHz. Whereas, MHz, or megahertz, equals one million cycles per second and was more commonly used to measure the speed of older CPUs and electronic devices.
The higher the number of GHz, the faster the processor can potentially perform tasks, reflecting its ability to process more data or instructions in less time. On the other hand, MHz is often seen in contexts where less speed is sufficient, such as in radio frequency channels or older computer technology.
Many consumer devices, including smartphones and laptops, boast their CPU speeds in GHz, which suggests a high-performance capability essential for handling modern applications and software efficiently. Whereas MHz is still relevant in radio technologies, where frequencies for FM radio, for instance, are typically broadcasted in the range of 88 to 108 MHz.
In telecommunications, GHz is crucial for the operation of satellite and cellular networks, where higher frequencies can support faster data transmission rates. Meanwhile, MHz frequencies continue to be important in applications requiring wider coverage and penetration, such as in rural broadband or emergency services communications.
GHz frequencies are sensitive to physical obstructions and shorter ranges, making them ideal for high-speed data environments but less effective over long distances without repeaters. In contrast, MHz frequencies, while slower, are better suited for long-range communication due to their ability to penetrate buildings and travel longer distances.

Comparison Chart


Measures frequency in billions of cycles per second.
Measures frequency in millions of cycles per second.

Common Usage

High-speed computer processors, advanced telecommunications.
Radio frequencies, older or low-speed processors.

Frequency Range

Typically above 1 GHz.
Typically from 0.1 to 300 MHz.

Performance Implication

Indicates potential for higher processing speed and data rates.
Indicates adequacy for broader coverage and penetration.

Example Applications

Modern laptops, smartphones, satellite communications.
AM and FM radio, early computers, basic mobile phones.

Compare with Definitions


Used in telecommunications to denote signal frequency.
5G networks use frequencies in several GHz.


Lower speed comparison to GHz, indicating older technology.
MHz frequencies are often adequate for basic electronic devices.


Unit of frequency equal to one billion hertz.
Modern CPUs operate in the range of 2 to 5 GHz.


Useful in describing radio frequency and other signals.
FM radio stations broadcast in the 88 to 108 MHz range.


Indicates the clock speed at which a processor executes instructions.
A higher GHz means your computer processes tasks faster.


Unit of frequency equal to one million hertz.
Some older processors operate at speeds around 800 MHz.


Common measure for computer processor speeds.
My laptop has a processor speed of 3.1 GHz.


Previously common measure for early computer speeds.
My first computer ran at 500 MHz.


Reflects the technological advancement of hardware.
Over the years, processor speeds have shifted from MHz to GHz.


Indicates slower processing capabilities in computing contexts.
Devices that require minimal processing power may still use MHz.


1,000,000,000 periods per second


One million periods per second

Common Curiosities

Why are computer processors measured in GHz?

Processors are measured in GHz to denote their high speed and efficiency in performing tasks.

How does GHz affect smartphone performance?

GHz significantly influences smartphone performance by dictating how quickly the device can process data, affecting everything from app functionality to user interface responsiveness.

What is GHz?

GHz, or gigahertz, measures frequency in billions of cycles per second, often used to indicate the speed of computer processors.

What is MHz?

MHz stands for megahertz and measures frequency in millions of cycles per second, commonly used for radio frequencies.

Do higher GHz frequencies mean better performance always?

Higher GHz typically indicates faster processing capability, but overall performance also depends on other factors like the number of cores and architecture.

What is the difference between GHz and MHz in terms of data transmission?

GHz frequencies support faster data transmission, making them suitable for high-speed internet and HD video streaming, whereas MHz frequencies are used where high data speed is less critical.

Can MHz frequencies be used for internet services?

Yes, MHz frequencies are used, particularly in rural broadband services where longer range and penetration are necessary.

Why do some devices use MHz instead of GHz?

Devices use MHz instead of GHz when lower operation frequencies are sufficient, such as in walkie-talkies and other two-way radios, where wide coverage and low power consumption are prioritized.

Is MHz still relevant in modern technology?

MHz remains relevant in various applications such as radio communications, certain IoT devices, and older computer technologies where high speed is not crucial.

Can GHz frequencies be used for FM radio broadcasting?

GHz frequencies are not used for FM radio broadcasting because they do not effectively propagate over long distances or through obstacles like buildings, which is necessary for radio broadcasting.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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