Whether you're building your own computer or buying one off the shelf, you need to put some careful thought into the processor that you choose. The processor will determine the overall speed of your computer and allow it to run certain applications more effectively. Here are four things you should consider when buying a computer processor.
The clock speed of a processor is the metric most closely associated with speed. This number is an indicator of how many calculations a processor can perform per second. Many processors have a base clock speed, as well as a turbo clock speed that they only reach while running high-demand applications.
While it was once possible to compare the performance of processors based on clock speed alone, there are now many different factors that play into performance. A processor with a higher number of cores will often perform better than a processor with a higher clock speed but fewer cores. Clock speed is most useful for comparing the speeds of chips from the same manufacturer, but is not accurate for comparing performance between different manufacturers.
Number of cores
Processors with multiple cores contain several individual processing units inside of them. Each core will manage a thread, which is a string of instructions from a single application. The more cores that a processor has, the better it will be at running several applications at the same time without slowing down. Additionally, certain programs, such as video and photo editors and some video games, make use of two or more cores at the same time.
While most processors have cores that are single-threaded, there are some high-performance processors that feature multithreading technology. This allows a single core to process two threads simultaneously, doubling the amount of work that the core is able to perform per second.
When your computer runs an application, the application is stored in the computer's RAM, or random access memory. The RAM is connected to a separate part of the motherboard than the processor, meaning that the processor can not access data from the RAM instantaneously. To solve this problem and prevent slowdowns when your computer is under heavy load, the processor contains several layers of cache memory that make copies of recently used data available for instant access.
The size of the cache memory of the processor that you choose can have just as much of an impact on its speed as its clock speed or number of cores. The listing for a processor will display the sizes of its L1, L2, and L3 caches in megabytes. The higher the megabyte value for each cache, the better your computer will be at running large programs without freezing.
Many modern processors include an integrated graphics processor. The graphics processor is used for displaying the desktop, playing videos, and running graphics-heavy programs like video editors and games. If you are not building a computer for high performance gaming or running multiple displays, the integrated graphics of the processor will be sufficient for most tasks.
The danger of buying or building a computer without a dedicated graphics card is that some processors do not include integrated graphics. You need to be sure that a processor you buy includes integrated graphics, or the computer will not boot. The integrated graphics will be displayed as the GPU in the processor listing, so be sure to look for this term before you buy.
The processor is arguably the most important component of any computer. Keep these tips in mind when you are buying a new processor so you can be sure you are buying one that will meet your needs. For more information, contact a local computer store.
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