What is kHz (Kilohertz)? (Explained)

What is kHz (Kilohertz)?

A kilohertz or kHz is the unit of measurement of frequency. It is equal to 1000 hertz. In the computer world, kHz is usually used to denote the speed at which the Central Processing Unit operates.


  • Kilohertz is the unit of measuring frequency and is denoted as kHz.
  • One kHz is equal to one thousand cycles per second.
  • This unit is used to measure radio waves, sound waves, Alternating Current, and wireless signals, apart from frequency.
  • It is between Hz and MHz on the lower and higher sides, respectively.
  • In computers, it is used to measure the operating speed of the Central Processing Units or CPUs.

Understanding kHz (Kilohertz)

Understanding kHz (Kilohertz)

Typically, kilohertz is the measurement of the number of cycles per second, or the frequency.

Denoted as kHz, this term is also referred to as a sampling interval or sampling rate.

Kilohertz is used to measure different things such as:

With respect to computers, kHz denotes the operational speed of the processor or the CPU in the earlier days. For example, Intel 4004, the first processor, had an operational speed of 740 kHz.

Over time, when more powerful processors were built, this speed was denoted by a higher multiple of kHz – the MHz or Megahertz.

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For example, the operational speeds of the processors in the later stages were between 60 MHz and 300 MHz.

These days, the processors are designed to operate at even a much higher speed and are usually denoted by even a higher multiple of kHz, the GHz.

The term kilohertz is often mixed up with another common term, the bitrate, which is typically measured in kbps or kilobytes per second, whether it is in the case of digital audio or data transfer in computers.

On the contrary, these are two entirely different things, where the bitrate indicates the amount of data sampled in each second rather than the number or frequency.

What is kHz (Kilohertz)

kHZ vs Hz

  • kHz is the higher multiple of Hz, but Hz is the SI derived unit in the metric system to measure frequency
  • kHz measures frequency equal to one thousand cycles per second but, in comparison, Hz measure frequency equaling only one cycle per second
  • kHz comes after Hz, being a higher multiple of it, which is why it is used for devices that operate at a higher frequency while Hz is used for the low-frequency ones.

Questions & Answers:

Is kHz Bigger Than Hz?

Yes, kHz is bigger than Hz. In mathematical terms, one thousand hertz is equal to one kilohertz.

Typically, when measuring the frequency of the CPU, Hz comes before kHz and MHz comes after it.

Is kHz an SI Unit?

Yes, kHz is an SI unit. The base SI unit of frequency is usually 1/second or 1/s, where hertz is used as the plural form as well as a prefix to its multiples, one of which is kilohertz or 103 kHz.

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The other higher units are megahertz or MHz or 106 Hz, gigahertz or GHz or 109 Hz, terahertz or THz or 1012 Hz and so on.

Is K Capitalized for kHz?

No, the ‘k’ in ‘kHz’ is not capitalized. Kilo is actually a decimal unit prefix denoting multiplication in the metric system by one thousand.

According to the International System of Units, Système International, in French, its symbol is k, and it is always in lowercase.


Hertz is the SI unit of measuring frequency, and kilohertz or kHz is the higher multiple of it.

This unit is used to denote the operating speed of the CPU as well as other things as well, such as audio and wireless signals, electricity and more.

About Taylor Swift

Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift, a UOPEOPLE graduate is a freelance technology writer with in-depth knowledge about computers. She has an understanding of hardware and technology gained through over 10 years of experience. Follow Her at Linkedin

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