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Buying a Processor

The CPU is the powerhouse of a computer. The CPU interprets data and writes the data for storage or for display on your screen. The CPU consists of millions of transistors wrapped in silicon. Upgrading your computer is a relatively simple task. Once you understand the terminologies, you're equipped to take the journey on your own. However, first-timers, often a time; can make potentially risky pick. This buying guide is aimed to assist people of all computer experience make the right decision.

Buying a processor based on what you intend to do with your computer can save you some money. For example, a computer for simple tasks like email and surfing doesn't necessarily need multicore processors or the fastest clock speeds. If you are just using your computer for this, I would recommend a middle of the line dual-core chip. Multicore processors are designed for gaming, video or audio editing, and general multitasking. If you do a lot of gaming, video editing, etc, a faster dual-core or quad-core processor is for you.

Quad-Core processors are the latest processor in the market. These processors guarantee superb performance. You can now order computers with quad-core processors from any major computer manufacturer or you can do it yourself. Almost all modern computers come with dual core processors. Single Core processors are found in old computers and their performance is not as good compared to modern multi-core chips.

Intel and AMD are two of the world's major CPU/Processor manufacturers. Intel is the industry household name and has been struggling to maintain market dominance amidst strong rivalry from AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). Intel enjoys 70% of market dominance and many IT professionals believe it has a better technology.

To buy a processor, you need to know the amount of Clock Speed, System Bus Speed, L2 Cache, and Processor Core that would serve your purpose. You may also consider a processor with 64-bit support. As I said earlier, this guide acquaints you with almost all the jargons to help you make the right decision before you set out for a new CPU. After going through this article, it is recommended that you visit AMD or Intel Website for the latest midrange and high-end processors.

Note: Socket Type and Platform

The CPU you buy must have a socket that matches the motherboard, for example, LGA775 Processors for LGA775 board. In addition, check to see if your motherboard supports the CPU model, you intend to buy. This will be found in your motherboard manual. If you can't find this, it most likely can be found online. Here are some brief descriptions of CPU specifications.


The majority of software runs fine with a 32-bit processor. Architecture refers to which processor type --32-bit or 64-bit core-- that would properly run your software. Depending on your project, you may opt for a single core, dual, or quad core processor. A Quad Core processor is the number one CPU right now but it also the most expensive in general.

Clock Speed or Operating Frequency

The speed of the processor is the clock speed and it's measured in hertz. The clock speed is simply how many times per second the processor performs basic functions such as addition of two numbers. Due to technological innovations, processors now have clock speed of billions of cycles per second (GHz). The clockspeed determines the performance of the CPU. As you know, a 3.5Hz is faster than a 3.4 HZ.


Hyperthreading also known as multi-threading makes one chip to act as multiple processors. With hyperthreading, the different parts of the CPU perform different tasks simultaneously.


Socket speed is a name or numbers that refers to the location on the motherboard that the CPU fits in.

Front-Side Bus

FSB is the front-side bus. The FSB states the fastest type of memory for your system. FSB determines the speed transmitted between the memory and the processor. A faster FSB does speed up RAM operations and overall system performance.

L2 Cache

You can increase performance and responsiveness by opting for higher Cache capacity. Large capacity like 2MB allows recently accessed data to be instantly available to the processor.

Hopefully now you have all the information you need to make an informed decision on purchasing a new CPU.

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