Understanding your CPU
The CPU market can be extremely puzzling. With so many technical terms and acronyms strewn about, it's hard to know where to start. There are many different CPU models, each one with unique features and clock speeds. The following information will help you wade through some of the technical prattle you're sure to be bombarded with when shopping for a new processor.
Right off the bat, pose this question to your self: what am I going to be doing with my computer? If all you're going to do is surf the web, send email and maybe log in a few entries in Microsoft Excel, you don't need the latest and greatest CPU on the market. These common activities don't require the juice an expensive CPU can provide, and you shouldn't waste your hard earned money on one. On the other hand, if you plan to do gaming or 3D graphical manipulations, then a fast CPU will put a nice spring in your computer's step.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) can be imagined as the “brains” or your computer; it's the component that does all the number crunching and executes software instructions. Video game performance and other software depend on this intelligent little piece of silicon to function.
The Big Guys: AMD and Intel
As of this writing, there're two major companies that hold sway in the CPU market: AMD and Intel. AMD—Advanced Micro Devices—is widely known for its Athlon line of processors and Intel for its Pentium processors. Each company designs their CPUs with a wide array of features and clock speeds to fill every niche.
What's a good CPU for Gaming?
Most of today's games require an extraordinary amount of processing power to bring them to life. If you want good solid performance when playing the latest 3D games, you'll need a capable CPU. The AMD Athlon 64 X2 is a popular choice among gamers. If you're an Intel fan, the Pentium 4 models are very capable.
The AMD vs. Intel war has been raging on forever. If you're not experienced in both of their CPU offerings, it's hard to decide. A lot of gamers recommend going with AMD, as AMD's line of CPUs have been proven to perform better in today's highly advanced games. Also, AMD offers cheaper CPUs than its rival, Intel.
Making sense of Clock Speeds
When shopping for CPU, one of the first things you'll see listed is its clock speed. What does this obscure number represent? An easy way to think about clock speeds is this: usually, the higher the number, the faster your CPU can process instructions. You'll see clock speeds advertised in either megahertz or gigahertz.
Keep your CPU Nice and Cool
Top-of-the-line CPUs have a nasty habit of producing a lot of heat. Check to make sure that your new CPU comes with a fan attached to the top of it; a lot of the time, the stock fan might not be enough if you constantly tax your processor.
Most budget CPUs may not require a fan attachment to cool them off, as they may not be clocked fast enough to produce enough damaging heat.
You're now armed with the basic information needed when shopping for a new CPU for your computer. This article has only scratched the surface, so it's always a good idea to vet Google for more information.
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