Processors (CPU's)

What you need to know about the current processor types.

What is a CPU?

The CPU stands for Central Processing Unit otherwise referred to as the Processor. It is a piece of computer hardware that is found on the motherboard of a computer. It controls a lot of the commands between other hardware and software on the computer.


Intel and AMD are the two most popular computer CPU manufacturers

Intel Processors – The Range:

Celeron: Entry level CPU, able to cope with everyday tasks on a budget. Usually 2-4 cores. 

Pentium: Mainstream CPU, offering “bang for buck”. A reasonable level of performance, for a reasonable price. Usually 4 cores, sometimes hyper-threaded (see notes). 

Core i3: Mainstream performance, faster than a Pentium while priced slightly higher. Able to cope with most NON professional / NON gaming tasks. Usually 4 Cores, sometimes Hyper-threaded (see notes). 

Core i5: Performance CPU, designed for greater speed while still balancing power consumption and cost. The i5 costs more than the i3, but can offer much greater performance in some tasks. Good for gaming. Usually 6 cores. 

Core i7: Traditionally Intel’s performance champion, designed for high end, power hungry tasks such as gaming, rendering, editing. Great for high end gaming in Intel’s current range, core count can vary usually around 8 cores with hyperthreading. 

Core i9: Intel’s ultimate CPU, offering up to 16 cores and hyperthreading. This chip really shines in high demand workloads, such as rendering, encoding, editing, high end gaming etc.

AMD Processors – The Range:

Athlon: A cheap, high value CPU.

 

Ryzen 3: Budget conscious CPU, offering great value for money. Usually 4 cores.

 

Ryzen 5: Mid-Range CPU, again offering great value for money and extra performance. Great for gaming. Usually 6 Cores and AMD’s version of hyper-threading.

 

Ryzen 7: Performance CPU, offering great performance while still keeping an eye on the budget. Good for gaming. Ryzen 7 usually has 8 cores, and comes with AMD’s hyper-threading.

 

Ryzen 9: Up 16 cores and hyperthreading, a very high end CPU for high end, demanding applications. 

Thread Ripper: AMD’s Workstation , offering huge performance for professional tasks. Up to 64 cores makes short work of rendering tasks, encoding, etc. Not recommended for gaming due to price performance.

What is hyper threading? Why should I care?

Hyper threading is the ability for one CPU core to simultaneously handle two tasks (threads) at the same time. An 8 core hyper threaded CPU, for example, can handle 16 threads simultaneously… a 16 core, 32 threads, etc. 

This can in some tasks provide a system performance boost, as the system is able to process more data at any one time in parallel.

 

Cores vs Clock speed, which is better?

 

This gets asked a lot, but again it’s dependent on the workload you have in mind for your PC.

 

It’s also a balance, so cores without clock speed is no good, and clock speed without cores is also no good.

 

Usually there is a trade off or a “sweet spot” that can match your budget with your usage, it’s not as straightforward as this, but as a general guide, if you are a gamer and want good performance you should pick a 6-8 core CPU with the fastest clock speed you can afford and the best IPC (Instructions Per Clock) performance. For example, the current CPU gaming recommendations are the Ryzen 5600X featuring 6 cores, the 5800X with 8 cores. Or for Intel you should look at the i5-12600k or the i9-12900k for high end.

If you have any questions regarding which processor you should choose when buying a new computer or upgrading your existing computer, then please get in touch with PC Guy.