Whether a person is building a computer in their own home or is simply trying to get the most bang for their buck when purchasing one online, it's important for them to understand exactly what it is that they're getting. One of the main things that should be considered when making this purchase is the computer processor, also known as the central processing unit (CPU). This is basically the brain of the computer that carries out instructions, and while some might not realize it, there are huge differences between different products.
AMD vs Intel
The most likely options a person will face when choosing a processor are AMD and Intel. These are the two most common processors out there, and while it's possible to find great prices for both online, it's important to consider the benefits of each before making a purchase.
There are a variety of factors that should be considered when choosing a processor, so price shouldn't be the only thing that's looked at. When it comes down to it, though, AMD processors are by far the least expensive. As with everything in life, though, the cost/benefit analysis of this low price tells more of the story.
When compared to AMD, Intel provides higher performance levels. In some instances, though, the difference may be negligible. When it comes to run-of-the-mill computer activities, such as surfing the web and editing documents, there's little need for a high-priced super performance processor.
If tasks such as editing videos, playing games with amazing graphics or running a multitude of applications at the same time are constantly engaged in, though, it may be beneficial to opt for an Intel CPU. The option obvious exists to purchase an older Intel processor for a lower price, but none of these factors should be the end-all and be-all of a purchase. After all, there are differences even amongst processors from the same company.
Number of Cores
The number of cores a processor has is also an important factor to consider, and as already mentioned, this can vary even within the same company. In fact, looking at the Intel Core i7 shows that there are variances in the number of cores, such as quad core or six core, and this can affect the price by hundreds of dollars.
The fact of the matter is that a dual core is sufficient to perform regular non-taxing tasks. When it comes to things like video editing or playing 3D games, though, it's smarter to opt for at least a quad core. More cores mean that more computing functions are able to simultaneously be performed, so for those focused on performance, the number of cores is an essential consideration.
When computers only had single core processors, clock speed was just about the most important consideration. The clock speed regulates how fast different tasks can be run through the processor's cores. Now that there are multiple cores in processors, both the clock speed and the number of cores must be considered.
Two different processors may have the same core count, but if one has a faster clock speed, it will go faster. This speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and though 2.5 GHz is usually more than enough, those looking for superior power should opt for faster speeds. However, the number of cores should always be the first consideration.
The cache of a processor allows a computer to store data without being affected by the machine's RAM. Cache size is a complex subject, but once again, it all comes down to speed. Those who only use their computer for searching the Internet or listening to music will likely be fine with a cache size under 4MB. Those who step outside of this "traditional" box, though, should look at sizes in the 4MB to 6MB range--if not higher.
Consider Video Cards
The great thing about most processors is that their integrated graphics normally make the need for additional video cards obsolete. Those who are planning on playing the most up-to-date computer games, though, should consider purchasing an additional video card from an online vendor. As usual, most computer users will be fine without this additional expense. Those wanting higher visual performance should shell out the extra cash.
Purchasing a computer was so much easier during the early to mid '90s. After all, there wasn't too much to choose from. With the advent of new technologies and processors that can increasingly perform more, all of the aforementioned factors should at least be considered before a purchasing decision is made.