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How to choose a CPU?

CPU Guide

The central processing unit (CPU) is what we like to refer to as the ‘brain’ of the computer. Every single command you input on your computer involves your CPU making millions of calculations to execute them. 

Some programs such as the latest 3D games, video or 3D graphics editing program etc will involve your CPU in a lot of calculation work.  So when you are shopping for a computer, choose your Processor wisely. It is probably the most important aspect that determines the performance of a PC. 

Technology has pushed CPU speed to its boundaries. Processors are now reaching speeds where it is hard for them to get any faster while remaining stable and not overheating. Both AMD and Intel are moving towards Dual Core technology in CPU to combat this problem. You can think of that as having 2 processors inside a single chip. With two processors now doing the calculations, the workload is reduced, resulting in performance increase without pushing CPUs beyond their stable heat limits.

Since Dual Core Processors do not cost that much more, we are hard pressed to find a reason not to go for a Dual Core Processor as even programs that are not written with Dual Core Processors can also benefit from the performance increase of a Dual Core Processor.  

With the impending arrival of the new Windows platform, Windows Vista, it may be prudent to invest in a Dual Core Processor to handle with new system demands.

Clock Speed

The clock speed of a Processor denotes the number of mathematical calculations that the CPU can perform in a second. The latest Processors in the market can do billions of calculations per second. That is not to say that you should always go for the Processor with the faster clock speed.

Processors have pipelines which are used to transfer data. The lengths of these pipelines are different, depending on whether you are using an AMD or Intel Processor. Generally, Intel Processors have higher clock speeds but longer pipelines whereas AMD Processors have lower clock speeds but shorter pipelines as compensation. So it is really hard to compare an Intel Processor with an AMD processor unless you read a benchmark review online. A website for a wide variety of benchmark tests on gaming, 3D rendering, video editing, and file compression, etc is Tom’s Hardware Guide’s CPU charts which can be accessed in the following link: http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu.html

Picking a CPU

If you are using your computer for highly demanding tasks such as video games, or multimedia editing, you should invest a substantial amount of your budget towards the CPU. You will definitely see the performance of your computer enhanced by a good Dual Core Processor.

In fact, regardless of how you’ll be using your computer, we recommend strongly that you get a Dual Core Processor unless you have a very tight budget. Most mainstream users can benefit from the technology of a Dual Core Processor in situations such as multi-tasking. For example, if you’re running an antivirus scan and working on a presentation slideshow at the same time, a Dual Core Processor can help provide ample computing resources for you to work smoothly.

Another reason is that it is easy to add more RAM or upgrade your Graphics Card, but changing your CPU is a lot trickier and will take a lot more work.

AMD versus Intel

Intel seem to have gained the upper hand with their latest Dual Core technology which is a refreshing change given how AMD Processors have been outperforming Intel’s in recent years.

 In benchmark comparisons, Anandtech declared that Intel’s Core 2 Extreme X6800 didn’t lose a single category and even Intel’s mainstream E6700 and E6600 Processors beat AMD’s most high profile chip, the Athlon FX-62, in several benchmarks. 
 
PC World’s own benchmark test had the Intel E6700 Processor outscoring AMD’s FX-62 by a substantial margin, and the margin was even wider between the FX-62 and the Core 2 Extreme. According to PCMag.com, PC gamers who have been solidly behind AMD’s Athlon 64 Processors almost since the day they were released will have to rethink their stance based on some of the gaming benchmark figures.  

A lot of long time gamers will still swear by the AMD, claiming that the Athlon 64 FX-62 is no pushover when it is paired with a Dual Core graphics solution like ATI’s CrossFire or Nvidia’s SLI. AMD has also introduced support for faster DDR2 Memory and have announced plans to launch a gaming platform known as 4X4 that can accommodate two AMD Processors such as its Athlon 64 X2 chips or its FX chips. Also, before jumping onto the Intel bandwagon, bear in mind that AMD have plans to make even more drastic changes to its Processors, including coming out with Quad-Core designs by the year 2007.

GooGoo Recommends

It is hard to choose between an AMD and an Intel Processor. Remember the choice of your Processor will determine your Mainboard and future upgrading options. In terms of performance, Intel is currently enjoying the advantage but AMD Processors come at a cheaper price. It is better to read up and be updated on both company’s news so that you’ll be in a better position to consider your future upgrading options.

A debate extolling the merits of either brand will be endless as both companies strive to make technological advances and redraw boundaries on which they could compete on. Unless you are a hardware enthusiast and demand the latest cutting technology to work with, do not go for the best Processors as they will be very costly. Current processing speed is way too powerful for most applications that most people will be working with currently.

Usually the mid-range Processors offer the best value for money. You can contact our technician on what kind of Processor we recommend for your computing needs and budget.  

The above guide is provided as a free service for our customers and visitors and all information is written as objectively and accurately as possible. GooGoo Custom Computers are not responsible for any undesirable outcomes resulted directly or indirectly from reading our hardware guide.


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