How to Choose a CPU?

How to Choose a CPU?

This page will explain how to choose a CPU. Choosing a CPU can be extremely difficult. You here all the terms: E6850, 3Ghz, Pentium 4, but then you cry in despair, “What Do I need”. This page will hopefully make choosing the right processor a whole lot easier. Once you have bought a CPU and are looking to install a CPU go to this page.

What’s your budget?

The first step in how to choose a cpu is to work out your budget. There is no point looking at the latest CPUs if you have a very tight budget. I can’t force you to buy a certain CPU or tell you how much money to spend but I can give you a recommendation. First of all the computer CPU is the most important component of your computer so if you buy a cheap CPU then your computer will not be top quality no matter how much you spend on other components.

A good way in figuring out how much to spend on your processor is to work out how much you are willing to spend on your entire computer. I would say your processor should cost 20% of your entire budget. So if you have a $1000 budget then you should look at buying a CPU for around $200. If your budget is $500 then the CPU should cost around $100 and so on.

What’s your motherboard?

The second step in how to choose a cpu is to make sure that your cpu will fit and be supported by your motherboard. If you are building a new computer then I would recommend locating your CPU and then buying a motherboard to suit that CPU. However, you may have a motherboard already and now you just need a CPU to fit this motherboard. This will make choosing your CPU a whole lot easier for you can only have a CPU that is made for your motherboard. Your motherboard manual will mention which CPU is supported and how many pins the CPU must have to fit inside the motherboard.

What’s your needs?

The third step in how to choose a cpu is working out your needs. The CPU/Processor does the majority of the work in a computer so if you use your computer for many power-chewing programs and applications then your CPU would have to be better then if you just browsed the internet. Hopefully the table below will help you identify your needs and your CPU.

Computer UserIntel CPUAMD CPU
The Basic Computer User:

Uses his/her computer for surfing the internet, sending emails and writing up basic documents.

Pentium III, CeleronAthlon, Duron$10-$50
Middle Range User:

Uses his/her computer for surfing the internet, sending emails, writing up documents, other applications and for basic games.

Pentium IV, CeleronAthlon, Athlon XP$40-$100
Common Computer User:

Uses his/her computer like the middle range user except that this user plays better games (not the latest) uses more advanced programs (such as photoshop etc.) and uses his/her computer for entertainment purposes such as music, tv and watching movies.

Pentium IV, Pentium D, Core DuoAthlon XP, Athlon 64$80-$200
Hard Core Gamer or Video Editor:

Uses his/her computer for playing hard-core games or for intensive applications and programs, or for high-end video editing.

Core 2 Duo, Core 2 QuadAthlon 64 X2, Sempron, Phenom$200-$600

How long do you want your computer to last?

The last step in how to choose a CPU is to work out how long you want your computer to last. There are a number of things to consider. Firstly is this computer made to last for at least five years. If so then the CPU you purchase now should be good enough to keep up with up coming software and be good enough to handle a new operating system. Windows Vista has just come out so your CPU would need to be good enough to run this as in five years time there would be nearly no XP computers left.

If you don’t want to keep your computer for a long time (just a year or two) then I would recommend not buying the latest CPU. If you are constantly upgrading this could become an expensive process.

My Recommendation

If you are looking to buy a computer cpu, my recommendation would currently be the new generation Intel Core 2 Duos. These are significantly better then the Pentium 4 and are much more stable. They are also dual core meaning that they have two cores for handling a greater workload. Dual Cores are said to increase performance power by 80%.

The Core 2 Duo is not only perfect for intensive gaming and video editing but it is also great for the basic home user. I would recommend this chipset even if it was your first computer because you will avoid problems, be able to handle Windows Vista (the latest Windows operating system) and you will not need to upgrade for many years to come. The fast Pentium 4s which have fast clock speeds get to very high temperatures, which can lead to instability. That is why the new generation core 2 duo is my recommended choice.

This article has hopefully shed light on how to choose a cpu in your budget and for your needs.

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