Buying advice for CPU’s

The CPU is the heart of a computer. CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, and interprets the flow of data in your computer and processes it to write it out to your display or storage. The power of a CPU determines what you can do and how quick you can do it and this is directly related to the amount of money you want to spend. For simple task like email and surfing the web you don’t need a very expensive CPU, a basic one will do the job and will safe you some money. But if you intend to do gaming, HD-video editing or lots of multitasking a faster CPU with multicore processors will suit you better. Buying a new CPU can be complicated, here are some important specifications you need to know about before you purchase:


One of the first things you want to consider will be the motherboard socket into which your new CPU must fit. If you already have a motherboard, check if it supports the socket of the CPU you intend to buy. Socket types are given by the two biggest manufactures, AMD and Intel, and some of the most common ones are the AM3 from AMD, if your motherboard supports AM3 it will also support the older AM2 and AM2+, and when it comes to Intel we find LGA1155, the older LGA1156 socket and LGA1366.


Most CPU’s today have multiple cores, most common are 2, 4 and 6 cores but newer high end CPU’s have even more cores. The core is the brain of the CPU, and with multiple cores the CPU can handle lots of data at the same time. The more cores the CPU has the more data threads it can handle and process. For usual day computing a normal dual-core will be more than enough but for gaming and heavy multitasking you will want more cores to speed up the experience.

Intel uses Hyper-threading in some of their CPU’s which allows one core to process multiple threads.

Clock Speed

Clock speed tells you the operating frequency of a single core, in other words, how fast the core is. This is measured in GHz. A 3,4 GHz CPU is faster than a 3,0 GHz CPU but this is where the number of cores matter. A quad-core CPU with 3,0 GHz will be faster than a dual-core CPU with 3,4 GHz hence to its two more cores.

Front side bus (FSB)

The front side bus is the connection or frequency speed between the CPU and the motherboard and is measured in MHz.


Cache is the CPU’s memory, where data is stored while it is being processed. A processor can have up to three different cache “levels” called L1, L2 and L3. L1 is the first and smallest level that feeds the microprocessor directly and due to its smaller size it is also the fastest. This is the first place a CPU searches for data. If the CPU doesn’t find the data in L1 it will jump to L2 which is a bit slower but has much more storage for bigger data. L3 has even more storage. The more cache a CPU has the faster it will be able to work.

64-bit support

Mostly all CPU’s on the market today supports 64-bit instead of the old 32-bit models. 64-bit means that the CPU is able to process 64 bits of data at one time.

AMD and Intel

The CPU market is dominated by two manufactures, AMD and Intel, of which Intel still is the clear market leader with over 70% market share.

AMD is growing in popularity and has a strong CPU-product line including Sempron, Athlon II, Phenom II and FX-series. Sempron is their most basic CPU-line and comes at a very good price point. The Athlon II –line is a big step up in performance and consists of 2-4 core CPU’s. The Phenom II –CPU’s have up to 6 cores, 3,7 GHz and 6 MB L3 cache and are for those that need lots of performance. FX-series is AMD’s top of the line CPU’s and delivers up to 8 cores for the ones that really need superior performance.

Intel’s line of CPU does consist of Celeron, Pentium, Atom, Xeon and the popular Core-series with i3, i5 and i7. Celeron and Pentium are Intel’s basic CPU’s for the most common computer work at a cheap price point. Intel’s Atom processors are small very energy efficient and very popular in small netbooks. Xeon is their most powerful line of CPU’s and is aimed mostly at servers. Intel core-series is their flagship line since 2006. The series is divided in 4 performance classes i3, i5, i7 and i7 Extreme whereas the i3 is the least powerful one with dual-core processors and i7 Extreme the most powerful one with 6 core processors and up to 12 MB L3 cache.

Hopefully now you have all the information you need to make the right decision in purchasing a new CPU, use the filter options on PriceRunner to guide you to the CPU that suits your needs best!

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