How to Choose the Right Processor (CPU)? Buying Guide!

The processor is an integral part of any desktop or laptop computer. An element that is called by many experts the heart, and therefore the brain of the whole system. This component takes care of the complete performance, affects the speed of computing processes, affects the performance of the graphics card and, last but not least, is associated with the optimization of computer power.

It is therefore understandable that you should pay close attention to its selection, because investing in a suitable process will affect the performance characteristics of your home or business computing.

The processor is, of course, associated with a number of different parameters that need to be given due weight. So if you are faced with choosing a new processor for your desktop or laptop, start with this article first. We want to discuss about How to Choose the Right Processor (CPU) in 2022.

How to choose a processor

The processor is the brain of any computing power-based device. It processes those notorious ones and zeros, collects information from other components, evaluates them and sends them on. It is therefore clear from the above statement that this is one of the most important components of any computer.

We have only had two processor suppliers for a long time, and only one of them has its own production. You will find Intel and AMD processors on the market. Each of these suppliers has a slightly different approach to their development, which is why the product lines also differ. Generally speaking, which makes processors better, the situation often changes.

The figure shows the processor

Each of the series of processors has its undeniable advantages and disadvantages, and it is certainly not the case that the more expensive the processor, the more advantageous it will be. The choice always depends on what activity you will use this piece of silicon for. One example for all, a processor for $ 10,000 does not match the performance of playing games to a suitably chosen processor with a price of around $ 250. We will discuss why this is the case in the next lines.

How to Choose the Right Processor briefly:

Are you looking for a processor for an existing computer? – Before choosing a suitable processor, check which socket and chipset your motherboard supports.

Consider how to use it – Focus on what parameters are important to you. Rendering requires high overall performance, while games and CAD applications often require single-core performance.

Take the price into account – Set a financial limit, reckon with the fact that the processor is an investment for a longer period of time.

Focus on temperatures – With a new, more powerful processor, you may also need a more powerful heatsink.

Intel

Intel processors are divided into several product lines, each focused on a different type of work. Among them are game processors, models designed for workstations, office, but also server products. Intel’s history dates back to 1968, making it the world’s oldest active processor manufacturer for the general public and industry.

Recently, Intel processors have been characterized by high single- core performance and frequency, which will be appreciated especially by gamers and users of CAD applications that require high clock speed. By 2021, the manufacturer was lagging behind AMD due to delayed better manufacturing processes. However, with the company’s new strategy, the situation changed significantly at the beginning of 2022, and Intel was an ideal choice in the user computer segment.

Product lines

Intel divides processors into several model lines. Each of them has a specific use and is not entirely suitable for purposes for which it is not intended. We can distinguish 3 basic series. The table below lists the appropriate applications for each processor.

Intel Celeron a Pentium

Completely basic performance for the basic amount of finance. They are usually designed for basic office work in spreadsheets or text programs and other non-demanding software. They typically have a smaller number of cores, a lower frequency and an older production process. They are also often used in crypto currency mining stations due to their low acquisition costs.

Intel Core

Processors designed for all the operations that regular users need. They are characterized by a higher number of nuclei and especially a high frequency. Models marked as Intel Core i3 are especially suitable for multimedia and office work, but they will also suit non-competitive title players. Categories marked i5 and i7 will suit more demanding players and also for work tasks. The i9 series processors are then designed for the most demanding users.

Intel Xeon

In general, this class of processors can be described as models designed for server use, but they are also suitable for workstations. The frequencies are lower than in the case of Intel Core models, on the contrary, the number of cores tends to be higher.

However, there are also models that contradict this and more or less correspond to the Intel Core series in terms of number of cores and frequencies. In general, these processors are equipped with additional functions that increase their reliability and reduce the error rate of calculations.

AMD

AMD processors used to be advantageous in the past, especially for their price. With the advent of the FX series, there were difficulties at AMD, their models were not competitive. The Ryzen models came next, which significantly changed the whole situation. They are characterized by their higher multi-core performance.

Product lines

Like Intel, AMD divides its processors into product lines. Each of them has its specific use, which we describe in more detail below. You can read the suitability of individual processor series from the following table.

AMD Athlon

AMD Athlon processors are among the least powerful range of this manufacturer. They can be used mainly in the office or on computers designed for multimedia entertainment. They are far from having a game or performance for professional work. The number of cores is also low.

AMD Ryzen

The Ryzen series was originally designed especially for players. The number of processor cores in this series is higher, as is the frequency. Stamp the 5 is suitable for medium demanding work or play games. Ryzens 7 and 9 are then very powerful models designed for the most demanding users.

AMD Threadripper

Threadripper means “fiber ripper”. The name is an allusion to the high number of cores that these processors have. The tact is lower than in the Ryzen line, but still relatively high. Typically, these models are used for video rendering and editing or work that requires a higher number of cores. They are a suitable variant for computational simulation models.

AMD EPYC

The EPYC product line is designed primarily for server use. These are typically models with a very high number of cores, low frequency, high reliability and low calculation error. Of course, he can also virtualize. The main benefit is also the maximum amount of RAM that can be installed in the system. This value is in the order of terabytes.

Socket

Whether you are building a new computer or want to upgrade your existing one, a crucial selection criterion is a socket. If you choose a socket other than your computer’s motherboard, not only will the computer not start at all, but it will probably not even fit the processor into the slot. Also pay attention to supported chipsets.

Chipset

Do you want to build a computer and have you chosen a motherboard? Do you already have a computer at home and want to improve it? Always check your chipset for the motherboard and whether the chipset supports the selected processor. If this is not the case, the computer will not work.

Number and design of cores

Each processor consists of two or more cores. These cores are the creators of the computing power itself and take care of the processing of individual tasks. Some applications and software can evaluate information in multiple cores at once. This results in only one thing. Far faster job processing and presentation of the desired result.

The logic of the matter is that the more cores a processor contains, the more powerful it is. For example, dual-core processors are more suitable for office use only. If you also stick to graphics, it is better to invest in four or more cores. On the other hand, it is not appropriate to choose only by number, although more cores significantly increase performance, not every program or game can take advantage of this benefit.

Typically, a higher number of cores is suitable for rendering. However, the growing number of cores has already begun to be taken into account by game developers. Some of the latest game titles can use as many as there are available. However, it still remains true that the most significant benefit for players is the powerful graphics card.

big.LITTLE

Intel first introduced the big.LITTLE technology to the desktop processor market in 2021. Intel processors in the higher model lines thus use a combination of large, powerful, but also energy-intensive, and small, less powerful, but very efficient cores. While large cores take care of the most demanding tasks, small ones work on less important operations. As a result, the processor can achieve significantly higher performance with lower power consumption.

A typical scenario is when small cores take over background processes, such as a running browser, streaming program, and messenger, while large ones struggle with a running game. Thanks to this design, it is also possible to place an overall higher number of threads in the processor.

Core frequency

The second key parameter affecting the performance of the processor is its frequency or clock speed. This is given in gigahertz (GHz) and exceeds 5 GHz on the most powerful models. However, it cannot be said that a higher frequency processor will automatically be more powerful as well. The total performance depends on three basic parameters, namely the number of cores, frequency and IPC (Instructions Per Cycle).

Manufacturers define a clock range, such as 4.4 – 5.3 GHz. This means that the processor still runs at 4.4 GHz and can accelerate to 5.3 GHz in the short term. Here too, however, the situation is not entirely clear. In order to achieve the maximum frequency, it is necessary to provide a quality processor heatsink and have a PC case with good airflow.

The maximum frequency also does not apply to all processor cores. Usually the maximum frequency reaches one or two nuclei, the others reach lower beats. We won’t go into CPU acceleration technologies in detail, because they’re useless to the layman, and readers who use their knowledge of the principles have long known how they work.

Important parameters

Computer technologies are relatively complex and even a difficult discipline, so we will list some of the concepts and parameters that are directly related to processors and can affect the selection.

Open multiplier

The principle of this concept can be explained by the fact that the product allows the user to change the clock speed on a suitable motherboard. This is especially appreciated by gamers with a quality heatsink and PC case. Increasing the beat can have a positive effect on overall performance, but you need to be very careful when adjusting the frequency. It is also true that reckless changes to the processor settings can damage not only the silicon itself, but also the motherboard components (VRMs).

While AMD allows you to overclock all of its Ryzen, Threadripper, and EPYC processors, Intel models mark open multipliers with the attribute K (for example, Intel Core i9-12900K).

IPC

The third most important parameter affecting performance, the value of which you do not read anywhere and differs from application to application. The term can be translated as the number of instructions that the processor can evaluate in one cycle. You will come across this concept, especially when the manufacturer releases a new generation of processors and promises to increase IPC by, for example, 20%. If the frequencies and the number of cores have remained the same, an overall increase in power of approximately 20% can be expected.

TDP

It is not easy to decipher this abbreviation, but the principle of the parameter is simple. TDP (Thermal Design Power) is a term that defines how much energy the processor will consume, or how much heat it will generate. The importance of the parameter lies mainly in enabling the selection of a suitable processor cooler.

PL1 to PL2

Behind the acronym is, as is often the case in the world of technology, the relatively vague term “Power Level”. While PL1 defines what the continuous consumption of the processor should be (for example, 125 W), PL2 determines the maximum short-term consumption. This is reached by the processor in the boost (when increasing the beat to the maximum) and has a precisely defined duration (for example, 56 seconds).

Why should you be interested in this parameter? This is exactly the value of PL2, according to which you should choose TDP coolers. If PL1 is 125 watts and PL2 is 250 watts, then it is advisable to choose a heatsink with a TDP of 250 watts. If you buy a heatsink with a lower output, your processor will not reach its maximum or will reach it for a very short period of time.

Integrated GPU

Some processor models also have an integrated graphics processing unit (People Graphics). The advantage of this solution lies in energy savings, acquisition costs and space. However, the integrated graphics are only suitable for office work, multimedia entertainment or light photo editing. More demanding tasks require dedicated graphics.

TIP: Although the integrated graphics are not suitable for gaming in general, you will play easy titles such as League of Legends on FullHD without any problems.

Hyper/MultiThreading

In addition to the number of cores, you will find in the definition of each processor model how many threads it uses. There are usually two threads per core, so you can come across 8 cores / 16 threads in the label, for example. Hyper Threading and MultiThreading technologies enable this division of cores into a double number. Some of the processors do not have this feature, consider buying them well.

Box cooler

In the past, it was common practice to have a heat sink included with all the processors in the box. It managed to keep the processor functional, but mostly it was a cooler of very below-average performance. The use of such a heat sink usually results in noisy computer operation. If you are buying any higher-class processor (over $ 250), we recommend that you purchase the heatsink separately.

TIP: The best heatsinks in terms of price and performance for the lower and lower middle class processors are the long-term SilentiumPC Fera 3 and Fera 5 coolers.

Production technology

Readers who are interested in technology have certainly heard about production processes and their efficiency. Processors are made of silicon and their individual lines and cores are built by a process with a certain fineness / resolution. The production process is evaluated in nanometers and in 2021 the best used for processors reached 7 nanometers.

At CES 2022 (Computer Electronics Show), Intel introduced the new Deep Link technology, which is related to Intel’s integrated and dedicated graphics cards. This feature allows both graphics cards to work together on the same task, such as video decoding, and speed up the process by tens of percent of time.

Processor cooling

Processors generate a relatively significant amount of heat during calculations. In order for them to work well, they need to be cooled. Each processor operates in a certain temperature range and when it reaches the upper limit, it limits the power to keep up with the cooling. To keep performance high, it is advisable to use a powerful heatsink. The operating temperature of the processor under load should not exceed 90 ° C.

We can distinguish between air and water cooling. It has long been the case that air cooling is less efficient than water cooling. On the contrary, a high-quality air cooler often ensures quieter and more stable operation and is also less faulty. Water cooling pays off especially if a tailor-made water circuit is installed.

How to choose a CPU cooler:

Socket – like the processor, the heatsink must be compatible with the socket, otherwise you will not place it on the processor.

TDP – the heatsink should have a TDP at least 20% higher than the PL1 of the processor. Ideally, the TDP of the heatsink should match the PL2 of the processor.

Heatsink height – keep in mind that not every heatsink is suitable for every PC case.

Heat-conducting paste – apply quality paste to the processor in a thin layer. Poor application of the paste can fundamentally affect the cooling ability.

TIP: If your computer set up at the retailer or the manufacturer is overheating, restart the processor.

How to apply heat conductive paste

Avid gamers and technology lovers love to put their computers together, and it’s not a big science. The process requires only a certain amount of caution, adherence to the component supplier’s manual, and patience. Part of this process is also the necessary application of heat-conducting paste. If you are not setting up the computer, but the existing one is starting to overheat, you may need to reboot the processor.

Please note that any damage due to improper or careless handling of components is not covered by the manufacturers ‘or dealers’ warranty. So if you are not sure that you can apply the paste yourself, leave the work to more experienced friends or professional service. In the following instructions, we assume that the computer is already assembled and you will be ripping the processor.

Paste application procedure

Turn off the computer and disconnect the power cord to the power supply.

Unscrew and remove the left side of the computer case.

Lay the computer face down with the open side up.

Disconnect the cable leading to the fan on the processor heat sink. Disconnect the cable by gently pulling on the connector, not the cable.

Do not touch any other components in the computer, especially the system board and gold-plated connector terminals.

Loosen and remove the screws on the processor heat sink. These are usually used two.

Remove the heat sink from the processor. Under no circumstances use force or attractive movements, as this could damage the processor. Place the cooler on the table.

Wipe the old paste from the processor and heat sink with the napkin that comes with the newly purchased paste (for example, Arctic MX-5).

Use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air to remove dust from the radiator.

Apply thermal grease to the processor. A pea -sized ball will suffice.

Spread the paste with the plastic spatula provided with the paste. The layer should not be transparent, but it should be very thin.

Carefully install the heat sink and screw it on. Tighten the screws, but do not use too much force.

Connect the heat sink fan to the connector where it was previously connected.

Attach and screw the side panel to the computer, set it up, and connect the cable. The computer may not start properly the second time. The process is done.

Price

Before building your computer, evaluate which components are important to you. Players often invest an unnecessarily large amount in the processor, so they lack a more powerful graphics card. In contrast, professionals with CPU computing power requirements should focus primarily on the processor.

Price up to $250

At a price level of up to $250, we can find not only models designed for multimedia entertainment and office work, but also processors that can handle games well. Typically, these will be the Intel Pentium, Celeron and AMD Athlon series for the office and the Intel Core i3 and AMD Ryzen 5 for gamers.

Price from $250 to $1000

Most users will find themselves in the range of $250 – $1000. The most powerful Intel Core i5, i7 and i9 game processors as well as AMD Ryzen 5, 7 and 9 are available. You can also choose between processors designed for Intel Xeon professionals.

Price over $1000

The user choosing a model with a price exceeding $1000 is probably already targeting professional use or server installations. At lower price levels, there are mainly editors and professionals focusing on rendering and scientific calculations. AMD Ryzen 9, Threadripper, EPYC and Intel i9 and Xeon series are available.


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Md Shah
By Md Shah

Md Shah is a technology buff since an early age, where he specialized and graduated in Information Technology from FATEC and now helps people on the internet with several tips and product reviews. He has published articles on different Tech Blogs and Websites.


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