What to Look For in a CPU:

This post is all about what to look for in a CPU. What to look for in a CPUYea I know what you’re thinking, why is it so difficult to find the right CPU for your build or upgrade? Well when the first PC’s came out it wasn’t difficult at all, you just went with the newest model on the market because it was faster than the last model. Well that was back in the early 1980’s, since then the Pc’s have come a long way and have gotten a whole lot faster, and in the process different manufactures making the components.

64bit Versus 32bit:

First off let’s start off with a word or two about using a 64bit support processor’s, yes this is the one you want for your machine, practically all CPU’s made today are a 64bit model, and in the future this is all you will find. They can process 64 bits of information at one time versus just 32 bits of information; they also can access more memory which in return will make a faster machine.

The 64 bit software is becoming more popular these days which means a significant improvement in performance of your machine and with so many of today’s apps, like Windows, Photoshop, Video editors, Microsoft Office, and more that are already supporting 64bit technology . So I would not even bother with looking at any 32bit CPU’s, their actually getting harder to find. Ok with that said let’s move on.

What is the Best CPU for you?

Ok so what is the best CPU for you? Well do you have a preference in Intel or AMD, is cost a factor, are you wanting a gamming PC, just a basic, or do you need a high-tech machine for running architect software, we could go on and on with this list, so let’s go over the processor’s features, and you will be able to get a picture of what it is that you want.

Manufactures: Intel versus Amd:

If you have a preferred CPU manufacture, go with them, if you already have a motherboard, (Intel or Amd) go with that one, simple yes?What to look for in a CPU Now if cost is a factor you will probably be looking for something in an Amd. Now you’re going to find that Intel motherboards are also a little higher in cost, so take that in consideration also. Intel is usually known as the performance king, with Amd right on their butts, so with that in mind let’s take a look at Cores.

How many cores should I get?

Each core can run one task at a time, so if you have a quad core it can run 4 tasks simultaneously at the clock speed (GHZ) of the CPU. Now Intel offers Hyper-threading (allowing each core to run two sets of tasks simultaneously), so a quad core could run like an 8 core model as long as the software your running supports Hyper-treading. So if you have a lot of software that will support Hyper-treading, or plan on updating your software to support that, then you might want to go that route, but the cost is little higher.

Here is an example of looking at an Amd processor and comparing it with an Intel processor that has hyper-threading. The Amd PhenomIIX6 1090T, 3.2 GHz contains six cores, which means that the CPU can work on six separate tasks at the same time, and each of these task will run at a very respectable 3.2GHz.

Now for the Intel with hyper-threading, we have the Intel Core i7-860, it has only four cores, and they run at a mere 2.8GHz. So you might, expect this CPU to be slower than that of the Amd. But, with the support of the hyper-threading technology which is allowing each core to run two sets of instruction instead of just the one, and along with a few other design features,What to look for in a CPU it will actually outperform the Amd CPU. So depending on the cost of the two you might find it a better deal in going with the Intel CPU.

OK with all that in mind if it were me, I would go with one that has at least a quad core for a Basic or gamming Pc and higher if you’re really into gamming and then no lower than 8 cores for a high tech Pc.

What about the Clock speed?

Well as you can see from the example above, the higher clock speeds (GHz) does not necessarily mean it will run faster unless it has several cores to go along with it. For me since I like things really fast I go with the highest clock speed that I can afford, but if you’re building a basic computer, you can get by with a minimum of 2.5GHz, and for gaming as high as your pocket book lets you.

What about the Socket type:

Sockets are what the processor fits into on the motherboard; they come in two types, the LGA (Intel), and the PGA (Amd). The LGA stands for land grid array which means that the pins are located on the socket itself, as where as the PGA (pin grid array) means the pins are located on the processor.

Now, Intel gives its LGA sockets names that are based on the number of pins, such as the LGA 1366 has 1,366 pins, so the higher the number the more advance they are.

The Amd on the other hand takes a little different approach in labeling the sockets with broad name like AM3 or FM2 and sometimes when they upgrade to a new socket design they will keep compatible with the older version and label the socket as AM3+ or FM2+ referring to it being compatible to the AM3 and so on.What to look for in a CPUd

So with all that in mind you need to match the socket design of the motherboard to the processors design or vice versus, this is probably the most important Item to keep in mind, keeping apples to apples and oranges to oranges, kapish? 🙂

What about Cache memory:

CPU cache memory  is a small amount of memory that is located on the processor, it is used by the processor to store the most frequently used information so that it can retrieve it more quickly than accessing the main memory of the computer.  In doing so it helps the processor to run more smoothly and faster, but there is one catch to this, the more cache memory there is the slower the CPU will operate. What this means is that a small amount of memory will improve speed, but as the cache gets larger in size it no longer helps the CPU function any faster than if it had to look up the information from the main memory. So don’t go looking for high numbers of CPU cache memory.

Over clocking availability:

If you’re a computer geek and like to get your hands dirty, and want to be able to over clock your CPU to increase its speed, then you may want to look for a processor that is capable of being over clocked.  This is where you change the motherboards settings to make the processor run faster than its recommended speed, this is a complex procedure so if you’re not comfortable with doing this, don’t, you can cause some serious damage to your system. This being such an in-depth procedure that I am not going to get into right now, I will have a separate post on the subject at a latter date.

Alright, here is a breakdown of what we just covered in what you want to look at when shopping for a CPU.

  • 64bit Versus 32bit Processor: Go for the 64bit.
  • Manufacture: Intel or Amd: There both good.
  • What is a core and how many do you need: At least 2.
  • The clock speed of a CPU: 2.5GHz and no less.
  • The CPU Socket: Make sure it matches your Motherboard
  • How much Cache Memory do you want: No more than 2GB
  • Over Clocking: Not for the novice.

So if you’re ready to go shopping check out my post on the 5 Top places to buy computer parts.

I hope this has been beneficial for you in understanding the CPU and the key factors that make it up. If you have enjoyed this why not share it with your friends, and if you have any question what so ever please leave them below in the comment section.

Have yourself a Wonderful DaKim Shurtliff (1)y, and thank you for stopping by. 🙂



I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join others others who are recieving there weekly newsletter with the latest Tips & Solutions to EveryDay Home Computing
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

About Author

Hello, my name is Kim and I am the owner of this site. I have been working with computers since they first became available to the public.I have built several computers over the years and enjoy helping others with their everyday computing. Should you have any questions about using your computer, or any other device, please leave me a note below in the comment section and I will be more than happy to help you out. Come back often for more tips and solutions to your every day computing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *