CPU Buying Guide
Ever asked yourself, while looking for a new computer, what all those specifications mean? What does it mean to have a laptop, as an example, that has a 2GHz processor and 3GB Ram? This article looks at the processor, which is, without doubt, the most important component on a computer. Choosing a CPU can be a difficult task, particularly for the not-so-tech-savvy. Read on to learn more about buying a computer that has the best CPU for your needs.
CPU Speed- The higher the better
CPU Clock speeds are measured in Hertz. This is reference to the number of cycles that a processor can make in a single second. What this means, in reality, is that a processor that is clocked at 2GHz, such as the one that’s on my laptop, performs 2 000 000 000 calculations every second.
As a general rule, and while considering the issue of cost, I advise you to choose a computer whose CPU is clocked at a higher speed. I know, CPU clock speeds no longer mean what they used to a couple of years back. That is what makes choosing a CPU a bit tricky. However, in general, it is safe to say that choosing a CPU that is clocked higher is one way through which you can get maximum satisfaction from your new computer.
Minimum Processor Speed
I realize that it is all very well to say that you should get a CPU that is clocked at a higher speed, without specifying what the minimum should be. I will put my head on the line here by specifying that when it comes to the clock speed of your computer, you should have a minimum of 2.00 GHz.
It has an Intel Pentium P6100 processor which, as it turns out, is a Core i3 with the hyper-threading disabled.
Performance Matters More
In any case, I have seen people who have gone for laptops that are clocked at 1.7GHz, out of consideration for the environment (or for their pockets), and all of them have not taken long to regret their choices.
While it is true that lower CPU clock speeds, in general, mean low power consumption and longer battery lives in laptops, none of these considerations should, in any way, trump over computer performance. You will end up hating the environment if you choose that over computer performance.
More Cores (Sometimes) Mean Better Performance
Another one of my pieces of advice is that you should choose a computer whose processor has more cores. Dual Core processors are pretty much the minimum these days. That is where the headaches that come from having to choose start. All things being equal, a Quad Core processor will perform better than a Dual Core Processor. Choosing a CPU that has multiple cores will thus, at face value, make your computer faster.
The reality is complicated
The reality of choosing a CPU is, however, a lot more complicated. A processor that has more cores is not necessarily always the best CPU.
Another fact that you should take into consideration when choosing a CPU is that many of the programs that are in use on computers today can only use single cores.
What this means is that when you are running such a program, only one of your multi-core computer’s cores will be in use, with the rest lying idle.
Programs that are designed for multiple cores are faster
Many of the programs that are being made today have the ability to use more than one CPU core. These programs will, definitely, run better on a computer that has multiple cores.
Within Reason, Choose More Cores
Here is where it gets complicated; What if you walk into a computer store and find two computers that have the processor specifications that are shown in the diagram below? Which one do you choose?
It is, as you can see, difficult to make your choice here. Do you go for the higher clocked Core i3, which only has 2 Cores, or the Core i5, which has 4 Cores but has a lower clock speed?
In this scenario, I advise you to choose the Quad Core, Core i5 over the Dual Core, Core i3, even though the latter is clocked at a higher speed.
More Programs Using Multiple Cores
As time goes in, it is conceivable that more and more programs will be optimized to use multiple cores. The Core i5 will, under this scenario, perform better than the Core i3. It will also significantly consume less power.
Some may argue that the Core i3 will perform better on programs that use only 1 or two cores.
While that is true, it is something of a moot point. These kinds of programs, such as Microsoft Office Word, and your browser, are rather lightweight. They can, therefore, easily be handled by the lower clocked Core i5.
Resources Intensive Programs
It is when it comes to the execution of resources intensive programs that the Core i5 comes into its element. Most of the games, as an example, that are being made today have the ability to handle multiple cores.
The Core i3 will be left in the dust in this regard, even though it has a higher clock speed.
As mentioned earlier, the above comparison is only applicable within reason, or within a few megahertz.
If, as an example, the Core i5 in the above scenario is clocked at 2.0 GHz and the Core i3 at 3.2GHz, and both computers are selling at the same price, then I definitely would advise you to go with the higher clock speed.
This has, definitely, been one of the most difficult write-ups that I have ever written. The challenge is that there are so many variables. Choosing a computer is never easy, and choosing a CPU can be rather convoluted.
Price is, of course, a big consideration for those who are looking for new computers. My advice in this regard is that you should first determine what your needs are.
If, as an example, you are looking for a gaming computer, then, you have to be prepared to pay for it. Otherwise you are going to get a PC that is hardly suitable for your needs.
To conclude, I can safely say that, within reason and within budget, choosing a CPU that has a higher clock speed is your best option. I have set 2.00 GHz as the minimum clock speed, below which you should never go. I have also set two cores as another minimum.