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How To Choose A Processor

by Linda D. Yelverton

If you plan to assemble components to install in your new computer, then the first thing that you would need is a processor. This is the leading thing and in case you pick up one randomly, it could result in incompatible hardware, some broken parts, and not enough of power.

Choices of computer processors

There are a number of processor options in the market. Here are a few CPUs that are available which should let you choose from them.


  • Desktop processors

These CPUs were created to be used in the desktops. The function of the desktop CPU is to perform the same as that of the mobile processors for laptops. However, desktop processors are built somewhat differently to cater to the needs of desktop users. One such difference is that the desktop processor is able to offer higher thermal resistance and is overclocking compatible.

  • Mobile processors

The mobile processors are created to be used in mobile devices and in laptops. These are slower and offer less power than the desktop processor. This is because the mobile processors are designed such that they are able to conserve the power. However, there are some features that the mobile processor offers that the desktop processor does not. This includes WiDi or wireless display technology, which allows transmitting the media files wirelessly to say a television device.

  • Server processor

The server processors are highly reliable. These processors are tested in a very stressful environment. They may have to handle high computer loads or high temperature. In case the desktop processor fails to work then the entire system cannot be operated. The server processors, however, come with failovers. In this case, the equipment on standby takes over the system in case of failure of the main system. The server processors are designed to operate at a very high frequency and this lets the data to be processed much faster.

Features that you should consider when choosing a processor

After you understand about the different kinds of processors that are available in the market, you should now know about the features and specifications that the processor has to offer. Every processor is different and you need to know the features that matter to you the most. It is also important to understand how the processor affects the usage of your computer. Here is what you should focus on while buying a processor.

  • Cores

A few decades back all the processors had a single core. Nowadays, there are also multi-core processors available, which are also more popular. They are readily available and the computer software is designed to use this technology. You get to choose from a dual-core processor to processors of eight-core. To decide what is right for you, you need to understand what does multiple-core mean.

In the earlier days, the processors used only a single-core. Here this single-core was responsible to handle all the data that was sent to the processor. As more cores got integrated into the processor this let the cores to split the task. This makes the cores efficient and fast.

It is important to know that the processor will perform as per the existing software that is running it. If the software uses only three of the eight-cores, then this means that five of them will be left unused. So that you are able to balance the use and cost, it is important that you match the requirement of the system with the core.

  • Cache

The cache of the processor is similar to the computer’s memory. This is a small but fast memory that temporarily stores data. This lets the computer to retrieve the files in the cache quickly. The larger is the cache of the processor the number of files will be stored for quick retrieval.


  • Socket Compatibility

When you go to buy a processor for your computer, the socket compatibility is a concern that you need to address. This enables the interface between the processor and the motherboard. If the motherboard is already purchased then the processor that you install should be compatible with the motherboard socket. Alternatively, if you have decided on the processor then the motherboard should be compatible with the processor.


  • Integrated Graphics Processing Units (GPUs)

There are many processors available today that come with integrated graphics processing units. These are used in order to perform graphics calculations. In case you purchase a processor that does not have the integrated GPU then the computer will still be able to display graphics in case it has a separate graphics card. It also allows graphics to be displayed if there is onboard video offered by the motherboard.

If the computer is used to run software that is graphics intensive then you need an integrated GPU.


  • Frequency

The processor frequency is measured in Hertz. This is the processor’s speed. In the past, in case the processor speed was fast it meant better performance. This, however, does not hold true today. It could happen in a processor that is running at a low frequency is performing better than another one, which has a higher frequency. This is because of the processor’s infrastructure. You need to understand the processor’s interactions per clock along with the frequency.


  • Thermal Design Power

Processors generate a lot of heat. The thermal design power of the processor tells you the amount of heat that the processor will give out. This will determine what kind of a cooling device you would need for the processor. In case the CPU does not have a cooling device or if the device is not used then you need to install one so that the system is allowed to cool adequately. A computer is in danger when it is overheated.



As a newbie, it may not be very clear to you on what you should look for in a processor. Every computer has to have a motherboard and every motherboard needs a processor. The CPU or the Central Processing Unit determines the amount of data that your PC will be able to handle at a single time.

It also determines how quickly your PC will be able to handle this data. The cores that are needed are important when you are buying a processor and you have to figure out what you will be using the computer for. The software that you wish to run, the compatibility of the processor, and the speed of the processor are other things that you need to factor in.

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