How to Choose a CPU? Comprehensive Guide

The most crucial component of a computer is its processor, or CPU, which controls all the other attached elements. Your computer’s CPU does most of the actual computing, including performing basic computing tasks, executing resource-intensive apps, and producing game logic. If you’re looking to update your laptop or are buying one for the first time, understanding how to choose a CPU is essential.

Also, check out our separate post on Best CPU for RTX 2080

The CPU is sometimes described as the computer’s brain, which is a valid observation. However, choosing the ideal CPU could be difficult unless you are familiar with specific fundamental procedures. When choosing a CPU for oneself or a friend, there are numerous things to remember.

Cores, threads, clocks, and cache counts are readily obtainable, but knowing them takes some background information. After reading this purchasing guide, you will know how to choose a CPU, what to look for, and, most importantly, why. Let’s explore the subject and learn about all the crucial details.

Today’s CPU Choices

There are several varieties of CPUs. Finding the suitable processor for you requires knowing your spending limit and workload. Determine the sort of CPU you need to narrow down your options.

Desktop CPUs

Desktop CPUs were designed for use in desktop computers. While desktop CPUs perform the same duties as CPUs for mobile devices (such as laptops) and servers, desktop CPUs are designed to meet the demands of desktop computer users. One benefit of desktop CPUs, for example, is their better temperature tolerance. Desktop processors are also more tolerant of overclocking. 

Mobile Processors

Laptops and mobile devices, such as smartphones, use mobile processors. Mobile CPUs are often slower and less powerful than desktop processors to save battery life. However, many provide capabilities not available on desktop CPUs, such as Wireless Display technology (WiDi). This technique enables the wireless transfer of media data, for instance, to a television.

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Server Processors

Server processors are designed to be very dependable. When these processors are examined, they are subjected to severe circumstances such as increased computing loads and greater temperatures. If your desktop CPU breaks, the whole computer shuts down. However, server CPUs, such as dual CPU servers, includes “failovers,” in which backup equipment immediately takes over when the primary system fails. They’re also built to run at considerably higher frequencies, allowing them to analyze more data.

How to Choose a CPU What Key Factors to Consider?

After analyzing the various processors, the following step is to get informed about each processor’s characteristics and capabilities. All CPUs are not created equal. Understanding which specifications and features are significant and how they relate to computer use is critical. Here’s some guidance on what to look for when buying a CPU.

Core Count

Cores can be regarded as small processors within larger CPUs. The cores significantly impact CPU improvements such as speed and multitasking efficiency. Because each core may focus on a specific job, having more cores enables the CPU to multitask and perform effectively. CPUs with many cores have become the latest trend as current programs and games begin to use multiple-core CPU technology to enhance performance significantly.

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Furthermore, a CPU with more cores outperforms one with fewer cores. Most current CPUs include between 2 and 64 cores, making them suitable for various users and applications. For day-to-day use, I recommend at least a four-core processor. On the other hand, users who play high-end games or create content need a CPU with at least four cores.

 The 8+ cores can handle the most demanding tasks, such as AAA gaming while streaming, 3D video rendering, and editing. In brief, understand your utilization and determine how many cores a CPU needs to be a practical element of your system.

Threads and Multi-Threading

The number of threads represents the number of tasks each CPU core can do simultaneously. Understanding this is critical since modern CPUs typically have more threads than cores. Multithreading or hyperthreading, which the operating system sees as two logical cores, allows a core to execute two lines of code simultaneously.

Even though the different threads share the same resources, the CPU with more threads outperforms the CPU with the same number of cores. Regarding the bottom limit, you can’t have a processor with less than four cores. To simplify things, the number of threads must equal or exceed the number of cores.

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You cannot choose a processor with fewer threads than cores. After you’ve checked the thread count, see whether the processor has multithreading or hyper-threading technologies. If the CPU supports multithreading, it implies that more than one thread may be used simultaneously to handle even the most complicated tasks, such as gaming and 3D graphics.

Clock Rates

A modern CPU’s clock speed, measured in GHz or MHz, is how quickly it functions. Simply put, clock rate, often known as clock speed, refers to the total momentum of the CPU. For example, a CPU with a clock speed of 3.0 GHz may execute up to three billion instructions per second or one clock cycle, which is the time it takes for one of the CPU’s many billions of transistors to open and close.

It has a significant impact on assessing a processor’s capabilities. A CPU often performs better the quicker it works; however, this isn’t always the case. Performance may be significantly impacted by the previously listed factors, such as core and thread counts. When calculating CPU power, all three criteria must have been considered.

The performance of a slower CPU with more cores or threads compared to a faster CPU with fewer cores or threads may be superior. For a processor to function better, it is preferable to examine every aspect simultaneously.

Thermal Design Power

A processor’s TDP, or thermal design power, describes how much heat and energy it will need to function at its best. This value is significant because it indicates the potential cooling and power supply wattage requirements for that specific CPU on your machine. There are cooling alternatives for specific CPUs, which might help you spend less overall. Before selecting one of the many options available, be sure you are informed of the particular cooling needs of your CPU.

Cache

The cache of a CPU is equivalent to RAM on a computer. Temporary files are stored in the cache, a small, partitioned section of memory that may be accessed quickly. As a result, the CPU does not have to wait for instructions; instead, it may soon retrieve the data stored in the cache. Processors with larger cache capacities may store more data for faster retrieval and processing, which is particularly handy for multitasking.

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Depending on the rest of the parameters, I recommend selecting a processor with at least 8-10MB cache memory. Like any other technology, CPUs are constantly modified and released in new versions. Younger generations regularly demonstrate modern technology that has a significant influence on performance.

Occasionally, pricey new features may not be necessary for your design, so purchasing an older model to save money is possible. Remember that new software that uses each generation’s technology as it comes may also be necessary to execute applications effectively.

Compatibility of Sockets

When purchasing a CPU, socket compatibility is the most crucial consideration. The interaction between a motherboard and its CPU is enabled via socket compatibility. If you already have a motherboard, check to see that the processor you have installed is compatible with the socket on the motherboard. Conversely, if you’re designing a computer around a CPU, verify sure the motherboard is consistent with the current processor.

 GPUs

Many modern CPUs have integrated graphics processing units intended to handle graphics-related tasks. If a CPU does not have an integrated GPU, the computer may show graphics if a separate graphics card or onboard video is provided. If the computer were utilized for visual applications and programs, a CPU with an integrated GPU would most certainly underperform.

Frequency

A CPU’s frequency, measured in hertz (Hz), is the rate at which it runs. Previously, just increasing the frequency meant improving performance. It is no longer necessarily the case. Due to the CPU’s architecture, a CPU operating at a lower frequency may perform better than a CPU running at a higher frequency in certain instances.

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It is critical to consider a CPU’s “instructions per clock” and its frequency. Although frequency remains a fair indicator of how rapidly a processor can function, it is no longer the only aspect that influences a processor’s actual performance.

APU vs CPU: What is the Difference? 

GPU and CPU are integrated on a single chip for APUs. The GPU and CPU share system memory for graphics and video in specific devices. Pairing the CPU and GPU increases battery life by reducing power consumption and heat production. Additionally, they are less costly than separate CPU and GPU.

Aside from that, you won’t need to spend additional money on a dedicated graphics card since you can get by with an APU CPU. In contrast, there are also disadvantages to APUs. Not always, but often, devices with integrated GPUs perform less well graphically than those with separate CPUs and GPUs.

 APUs may not be ideal for those who want to play top-tier games or create content. Instead, integrated GPUs are often seen in devices with small form factors, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, since these devices do not need as much graphics processing power.

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Which Specifications Are Relevant to Me?

Some CPU features and specifications will be more important to you than others. Depending on your computing requirements, several features and qualities can be considered. For example, a computer primarily used for gaming will need a different CPU than one used for web surfing. These summaries of the most common CPU purchasing categories will help you narrow down the choices of CPUs to those that best fit your requirements.

If you identify with various consumer groups, do not worry. Choose a CPU that satisfies the needs of both purchasing groups. Check out the section below to learn more about each organization.

Home Users

The demands of residential users, business users, and gamers are pretty different regarding CPUs. Fortunately, since a home user’s processing demands are often less demanding than those of other buyer groups, the most popular and moderately priced CPUs may easily suit your needs. As a first step, confirm that the CPU under consideration is compatible with the current motherboard. It involves examining the socket’s compatibility. If the CPU is selected initially, a motherboard must be consistent.

  • Relationship between Sockets
  • Internal GPU
  • Frequency

Professionals or Office workers

If you run a home office, your CPU needs will be somewhat different from those of the ordinary home consumer. First, identify the processors that will meet your everyday computing needs while maintaining your purchasing budget. Most home business users may benefit from a quad-core CPU. Figuring out how many cores the software need is essential if the computing demands are high, as they are in programming and graphic design.

  • Cores
  • Memory
  • Frequency

Do check our latest post on the Base Clock vs Boost Clock for CPU and GPU [Ultimate Guide 2022]

Small businesses

The CPU needs of a small company could be quite different from those of a home user. When buying a CPU, consider the cost, compatibility, and if the CPU has a BGA or LGA socket. The majority of small firms are bound by a specific budget when it comes to purchasing computer equipment.

 Therefore, one of the critical considerations when buying a CPU is price. There are many different CPUs available on Newegg for various uses. You may learn about some of the most significant possibilities on multiple platforms to obtain the lowest rates on CPUs.

  • Cost
  • Compatibility
  • LGA vs. BGA

Commercial Clients

In terms of CPU demands, corporate users also have specific requirements. In this case, a CPU capable of handling an organization’s computing needs is necessary; in other words, a CPU is designed for a high workload. Consider the number of cores required by the CPU while selecting a CPU.

However, keep in mind that having more cores is not always advantageous. It will depend on the application; for instance, installing an eight-core CPU but only being able to use four of the cores would not be a practical or cost-effective option.

  • Cores
  • Frequency
  • Thermal Power Design

Gamers

Gamers have particular requirements when it comes to the processing power of a computer. To eliminate gaming latency, you need a CPU capable of processing all the necessary data. The number of cores required by your CPU should be your first concern. Even though gamers need powerful CPUs, more cores may not necessarily correspond to more excellent gaming expertise.

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The player’s number of cores will depend on how many cores the gaming program can utilize. Consequently, extra cores may not be necessary.

  • Cores
  • Frequency
  • Thermal Power Design

Conclusion

If you understand your utilization and how to choose a CPU according to your usage, choosing the best CPU is a simple process. When picking a CPU, you should first consider its intended usage and then determine your budget based on how much you’ll spend on other components. While CPUs are essential, combining a fast chip with subpar graphics or a mechanical hard drive that rotates slowly (unless you don’t play games) makes little sense.

To your knowledge, most people only recommend AMD to those on a restricted budget, which is accurate but incomplete. When AMD debuted its Ryzen line of processors in 2016, it dominated the market.  For the first time, AMD processors outperformed Intel’s closest rivals in pricing and almost every benchmark, including gaming, where they routinely beat Intel.

Go through our epic guide on Best CPU under $300

Frequently Asked Questions

How strong of a CPU do I need?

The speed of the CPU is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and 3.5 GHz is more than enough for most users to run their favorite software. For the best results with games, video editing, and other tasks that need more than one core, you should aim for a CPU speed of 3.5 GHz to 4 GHz.

Which CPU type is best for gaming?

Best CPU for Gaming are: Intel Core i5-12400, AMD Ryzen 5 5600, AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, Intel Core i9-12900K, AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D, Intel Core i7-12700K, AMD Ryzen 5 7600X, Intel Core i5-12600K

How do I choose CPU cores?

Type “msconfig” into the “Search Windows” box and press “Enter.” Click on the Boot tab, then click on Advanced options. Check the box next to “Number of processors,” and from the menu, choose the number of cores you want to use (probably 1 if you’re having trouble with compatibility). Click OK, then click Apply.

Is higher or lower CPU better?

But within the same generation of CPUs, a processor with a faster clock speed will usually perform better in most applications than a processor with a slower clock speed.

What is a good processor speed?

A good processor speed is between 3.50 and 4.2 GHz, but the single-thread performance is more important. In short, a good speed for a processor is between 3.5 and 4.2 GHz.


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Jennifer
By Jennifer

Jennifer is an expert in computers. She developed a fascination for reviewing the most recent technological gadgets. She enjoys going through each and every piece of Hardware.



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