How to choose a CPU; Few components are found in your computer system that is as important as the CPU. From producing video game logic to running the heaviest applications and handling seemingly trivial computer tasks, your computer’s processor handles most of the computing in the system. That’s why if you are thinking of buying a processor and upgrading your computer, you need to know exactly how to choose the best possible component.
Buying the right processor can be a daunting task. Cores, strings, clock speeds, and cache are all things that can be found in all processor specs, but you need to have in-depth knowledge to be able to understand them. Keep reading the article before you and we guarantee that you will know what processor to go for and what specifications to look for.
How to choose a CPU
AMD vs. Intel
When it comes to desktop and laptop processors, we have a total of two main manufacturers; AMD and Intel. Until 2017, unless you were looking for super-economical options, Intel was your only choice. But today, whether you go for AMD or Intel products, you will have a great experience as long as you choose the best possible option for your new system.
Of course, this does not mean that all the products of both companies are excellent options and you do not need to compare different processors at all, but the difference between the performance of processors is no longer as vital as before and there are other factors to consider.
In the meantime, the important thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning to buy a new computer, you need to get compatible parts. For example, an Intel motherboard will not be compatible with an AMD processor, and vice versa. You can use Intel SSD on an AMD motherboard or AMD graphics card in an Intel computer, but when it comes to processors and motherboards, you should definitely buy compatible products.
Labels and processor generations
Just by knowing which generation a processor belongs to and where it belongs in the same generation, you can get a lot of information about the component. AMD and Intel name their processors in different ways, and you need to know how to decrypt them. Newer processors usually perform better, and as we will explain in this article, distinguishing between processors will allow you to know exactly what works for you and what doesn’t.
AMD’s latest processors are part of the Ryzen 5000 family. The first number indicates the generation and the second number indicates the position of the processor in that generation. For example, the 5600X and 5800X are both members of the Ryzen 5000 family, but the 5800X is the fastest and most powerful processor in this generation.
Unfortunately, these numbers do not make sense on their own. For example, you might be wrong to assume that the Ryzen 5000 processors are actually the fifth generation of Raizen processors. This is not exactly the case; The Ryzen 5000 is the fourth generation of AMD processors to undergo the third fundamental change in architecture. Similarly, the 5800X with the Ryzen 7 tag, the 5600X with the Ryzen 5 tag, and the 5900X processor carry the more sensible Ryzen 9 tag.
Numbers alone do not matter, it is a matter of comparing them with each other. A Ryzen 5900X processor belongs to a newer generation than the 3900X, the 5800X and 5600X belong to the same generation, and 5800X appear faster than the other.
Intel has a similar naming procedure, using the first digit to identify the next generation and the second digit to determine the position of the processor in the same generation. Like AMD, Intel categorizes its processors into different categories (such as Core i7 and Core i5). With this in mind, we can recognize that the Intel 10900K is a ninth-generation i9 processor. Once again, the higher the number, the better.
You should not think of naming processors as too simple. Just like AMD, Intel sometimes breaks with tradition in naming. For example, the 10400 and 10600 processors are both i5 and tenth generation. The higher the figure, the better it is, which means that 10,400 will have a poorer performance overall than 10,600. Intel, on the other hand, uses acronyms to indicate the presence or absence of a special feature in its processors. There is no explainable logic behind these letters and their meanings, so we have to list them very simply;
- G1 to G7: Graphic performance levels
- E: Abbreviation Embedded
- F: Requires separate graphics
- G: Comes with integrated graphics
- H: High performance optimized for mobile systems
- HK: High performance optimized for mobile systems, no restrictions
- HQ: High performance optimized for mobile systems, quad-core
- K: Unlocked
- S: Special version
- T: Optimized energy consumption
- U: Optimized for power consumption of mobile systems
- Y: For mobile systems with very low energy consumption
Fortunately, when you buy a new processor, you will not have to deal with these acronyms. The main things to keep in mind when buying Intel desktop processors are F and K. In mobile systems (such as laptops), HK and U are also more noticeable.
Cores and strings
If you want to know how to choose a processor, you should also know about cores and strings. Cores are like small, separate processors stacked together on a single chip. Traditionally, each kernel could handle one task at a time, so the more cores a processor has, the better you multitask. Modern software, of course, is better than ever able to use multiple cores to handle a task, and thus, the software can run much faster.
Strings are the number of tasks that a processor can handle at any one time. Many modern processors support “simultaneous multitrading” (or hypertext on Intel processors), which allows the processor to take advantage of extra kernel performance to handle more tasks. This is why we usually see processors equipped with four cores and eight strings or six cores and 12 strings. These extra strings do not appear as fast as the cores, but usually dramatically increase the overall performance of the system.
Some software is more capable of using cores and strings than others, so the number of cores and strings in your processor can be a good indication of potential performance. Of course, accessing more and more cores does not allow you to reach speeds beyond the limits of the software, and sometimes even each core in such a processor may not be as fast as a chip with fewer cores.
A dual-core processor will suffice if you just want to reply to emails with your computer, browse the Internet and watch YouTube, but if you are looking for a bit of multitasking, a faster and more efficient experience than working with a quad-core processor You will bring. Six-core economic processors are also worth noting, especially as they support simultaneous multi-trading. Examples are AMD’s low-cost, six-core processors.
If you are a gamer, you should at least go for quad-core processors, preferably processors that support up to eight strings. Using a six-core processor will also have its advantages, and some games run with faster eight-core processors. Beyond that, you will not see such significant differences. For example, the eight-core Ryzen 7 5800X processor performs exactly the same as the sixteen-core Ryzen 9 5950X in most games (and is half the price of the more advanced model).
If you are an editor of audio and video or you are dealing with large databases, then the only limitation for your work will be the sky, and the more cores you have, the better the work will be. But you should also be aware that from the eight cores onwards, the benefits you get from the performance are not as noticeable. Despite all this, the Ryzen 5900X and Ryzen 5950X 12- and 16-core processors are two of the best multi-core processors in the world, and they show that cores really make a difference when you do a lot of work with your computer.
It goes without saying that there are 64-core processors on the market today, but these processors are incredibly expensive and only useful to very professional people.
Clocks and IPC
Another very important issue when buying a processor is the clock speed. Clock speed is measured in MHz or GHz, indicating that the processor is capable of performing several sets of tasks per second. The clock speed relatively well reflects the speed of each individual kernel, but not everything depends on it. If two processors of the same generation have the same number of cores but the clock speed in one of them is higher, better performance is achieved with processors that achieve higher clock speeds.
Because higher clock speeds mean that cores are used faster, chips with higher clocks and fewer cores will perform better in some applications that do not make the most of the higher number of cores and strings. That’s why a ten-core processor like the Intel i9-10900K can be compared to the AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 16-core processor in many benchmarks. The 5950X has more cores, but 10900K cores are faster, and each can have its advantages and disadvantages depending on the applications you use.
Processors also have different classifications in terms of “command per clock” or IPC. This means the number of tasks that can be performed per clock cycle (or per second, depending on the clock speed) and everything will rely heavily on the hardware underlying architecture. Once again, for example, we go to 5950X and 10900K. AMD’s 5950X processor uses the Zen 3 architecture, which has a higher IPC than Intel’s tenth-generation design. This means that when an Intel 10th generation kernel and a Zen 3 kernel operate at the same frequency, the Zen 3 kernel will perform faster and can execute more commands per clock cycle.
Although this may seem a bit confusing, it does show how important it is to study the reviews of each processor. Comparing CPUs side-by-side in comparable tests is a great way to determine which processor performs better in the real world. But to summarize, processors with higher clock speeds and newer architectures are faster in every area. In productivity tasks, a more modern processor with more cores will be faster.
Processors sometimes use an integrated graphics chip, so they can operate independently of graphics cards. Those Intel processors that come with the F extension (such as 9900KF) do not have integrated graphics, but such a chip can be found on other processors. This graphics chip is usually not powerful and instead is an economical chip that can achieve 30 to 60 frames per second in older games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Even in these older games, you need to keep the graphics settings to a minimum so that the frame rate does not drop significantly in crowded scenes.
Intel’s 11th generation graphics chips (found in 10th generation Ice Lake series processors) come with a structure called Iris Plus and have acceptable gaming performance. In the Anandtech benchmark, the graphics processing unit in the Core i7-1065G7 processor can achieve a speed of more than 43 frames per second in Dota 2 with 1080p resolution. On the other hand, the processing power of this chip will be enough to run Fortnite at 720p and 1080p resolutions. Although the performance of these chips is still not ideal, in recent years we have seen a lot of improvements in Intel integrated graphics.
Meanwhile, the biggest improvements have been made to the 12th generation Iris Xe graphics, first seen on the 11th generation Tiger Lake chips. With the powerful i7-1185G7 processor, you can achieve an average rate of 45 frames in Civilization Vi and 51 frames in Battlefield V with 1080p resolution and medium settings. However, Fortnite does not perform so well and achieves only 34 frames with 1080p resolution and medium settings. As such, Intel Iris Xe graphics are by far the most powerful integrated graphics. The performance of these chips is certainly miles different from individual graphics cards, but we have seen big strides compared to the integrated graphics of previous generations.
Intel processors typically do not use the integrated graphics on desktop models, but the situation is different for some AMD processing units (APUs). These units are more comparable to Intel’s 11th generation graphics, and you can expect acceptable performance in older games with medium and low settings.
All AMD mobile processors use integrated Vega graphics, and with some special features, they can be an acceptable gaming option. For example, the RX Vega 10 chip in laptops equipped with the Ryzen 7 3700Y can achieve excellent frame rates in games such as Diablo 3 and Half-Life 2. To examine the capabilities of each processor, it is necessary to read the reviews of each separately, because there are other factors that can affect gaming performance. But be aware that a higher number of graphics cores usually leads to better performance when gaming.
Energy and heat
Performance is the most important factor when buying a processor. If you are not going to get faster than your previous chip with your new processor, why upgrade your hardware at all? If you want a quiet computer, an optimized computer or a compact computer, energy, and heat needs are also important and should be considered.
Unfortunately, neither AMD nor its publishers publish clear data on the energy and thermal needs of their processors, simply combining these two factors and classifying them in terms of “thermal design power” or “TDP”. This indicator is displayed in watts and gives you a general idea of how much power the processor will need from the power supply and how powerful a cooler you will need to keep it at a safe operating temperature.
Low-power laptop processors usually only need a few watts and up to 45 watts on the most powerful gaming laptops. Desktop processors, on the other hand, can reach a maximum of 125 watts in certain situations, although this would normally be between 65 and 95 watts.
Thus, it is necessary to study the reviews of each processor separately to determine how much energy and cooling you need. But if you are thinking of buying a processor that has almost 100 watts of TDP, you should definitely go for bigger and more efficient coolers to keep both heat and noise to a minimum.
How to choose a CPU