A Beginners Guide To Choosing Processors

cpu1

Intel’s latest announcement describing the new Stars rating system has me questioning what’s changed in the way of judging processors by their specifications.
Maybe if I redefine what a processor is, that will help me focus on what I’m looking for when making a purchase.

The job of a processor is to execute program instructions which perform functions. These instructions come in the form of software, so basically a processor interprets software. How well it does this is determined by its architecture or its internal design. Intel and AMD describe this internal design with names like P4, P III, i7, and so on. Within these architecture types are family names like Nehalem, Centrino, and Sempron.

In addition to the internal design, it’s important to know how the processor communicates externally to the rest of the PC. This takes into consideration the interface between the systems chipset, memory, and all the other devices connected to the motherboard. The lines of communication between the cpu and these other devices are called buses. For the purpose of this article I’m limiting the discussion to the processor and memory bus.

You may have heard people refer to the processor’s Front Side Bus or FSB. This is the pathway that takes information from the processor to the memory controller. It is usually given a number that designates its size or width, for example a 333Mhz FSB. The number is describing the amount of information that moves across that path. Intel’s latest architecture moves the memory bus inside the processor so for the very latest, FSB is no longer a factor. This is not the first time for this arrangement. AMD has done this for quite some time with their HyperTransport. Moving the controller into the processor is all about improving communication to the memory located on the motherboard of your system. It’s a proven technology.

OK, so lets take a look and see where we are so far; architecture and FSB or Front Side Bus. I’m leaving FSB in the equation and you’ll see why later.

Processor Architecture

Intel Examples

Thunderbird

Celeron

Nehalem

Front Side Bus

Examples

266MHz

400MHz

533 MHz

Because the processor architecture controls how data flows between various parts of the processor, memory, and the systems controllers, it is the first thing to consider. If you are buying a replacement processor you will be limited to what physically fits the motherboard. If you are buying a new system, look at the architecture. Don’t be content knowing it’s an Intel or and AMD. Find out exactly which model processor you are buying.

processor-family

The next thing to look at when considering a processor is it’s size. What “size” processor is it? How is the size determined? Basically the size of a processor is determined by the FSB and a multiplier. So, if you are using an Intel processor with a FSB of 333MHz and a multiplier of 9, you will have a 2.997 GHz (333×9=2997) or rounded off a 3 Gig processor. This multiplier is never shown on packages or the easily found in the specs, so be content to know the FSB and total Clock Speed ie. 3.0 Gh of your processor. When you hear the term “overclocking” these are the two main settings it refers to. If you take the above 333MHz x 9 = 2.997 processor and change it to 383MHz x 9 = 3.4 GHz processor. That’s not what I’m suggesting but it is what overclockers do.

After clock speed, look for the number of cores. In the past, consumers mostly used processors with single cores. The addition of multiple cores is the same as adding more processors. The amount of total work your system can do increases dramatically when using multiple core processors. To be more precise, multiple cores affect the amount of work the processor “could” do if maxed out with instructions.

comparison

At some point people believed that a dual core processor was twice as fast as a single core processor but that wasn’t exactly true. Just like a highway,vehicles don’t move faster just because there are more lanes. You just move more of them. If there’s not enough work to max out a single core then the extra core does not help. One more point, just to be sure I’m not giving the wrong impression. Because an older single core processor is clocked higher doesn’t mean it’s faster than a lower clocked newer processor. The reason is that newer technology is faster of itself.

Remember to stick with the latest architecture. It’s always smart to get the biggest and best, most cores and highest clocked processor you can afford. That’s what gives you the best performance and a hedge against the way technology progress to out date your system.

If I were to buy a processor today, my first step would be to check the Intel site and find the latest and greatest Architecture. That is i7 Nehalem. Because I already know that Nehalem does not use a FSB I’m about ready to skip that when I notice something called “QPI” That stands for quick path interface and justs like FSB there are differing sizes available.

Nehalem comes in two sizes so of course I want the larger 6.4GT/s over the smaller 4.8GT/s. Intel calls this the Extreme edition but call it what you like it is still a measurement of how fast data flows through the memory. I check to see what’s available in cores. The most I can get is 4. After that it’s the size of the processor as determined by clock speed and memory operation. To determine what’s available I visit several online sales sites to find the largest available and the price.

It’s a very nice 3.2 GHz processor but Yikes, $999.99, that’s out of my price range. I gotta drop back from the Extreme with the 6.4 GT/s QPI and go with the lower priced 4.8GT/s i7 quad core. Still an up-to-date architecture, quad core, and should be plenty fast enough for what I do.

FAMILY + SPEED + CORES = RIGHT CHOICE, or I can use the Intel Star system and have no idea of what I’m getting.

______________________________________

*Note: Software is still behind the curve when it comes to taking advantage of multi-core processing.

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53 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide To Choosing Processors

  1. Well, the author sure did get bashed with this article…That being said, I’ll give him some props for the attempt. For all intents and purposes, the article is really just the tip of a very big iceburg if your providing “a beginner’s guide”. Realistically, for someone who is truly interested in what kind of components he/she needs in a computer, they’ll do the research…this article is just a small, SMALL piece of info available, even at the ‘beginner’ level. However, I’ll agree that the blanket statement ‘buy the biggest and best’ is just plain silly. For a casual user, that’s like saying ‘buy a Lamborgini to cruise around a golf course’. Sure you’ll look good, but what a waste of performance machine. Bottom line, the purchase of a computer and/or its components is based upon what the user needs…if all you do is a little web surfing and email or maybe some office docs and excel database stuff, an older P3/AMD Athlon and a gig of generic RAM will do you just fine. Don’t waste your money. Enthusiasts or power users…pfff, what are you even looking at this article for in the first place? You likely know what your looking for anyway or at least know how to do your own proper, serious research.

  2. I also agree that this article would not be helpful to any true beginner. The terminology is much too technical for even the casual pc user to follow. It seems to me that, although the writer is obviously biased toward intel, most of the responders are AMD biased. Sadly, many of the same responders appear to be misinformed. Yes, Intel processors are more expensive that comparable AMD processors, but whereas many commented that Intels run hotter than AMD’s, my personal research (which included reading many benchmark comparison tests) indicate that AMD processors tend to run hotter than those from Intel. Many of the same tests also indicated that Intel tends to be more reliable than AMD. Whatever the case, I believe people should get their facts straight before they commit to making negative comments instead of just bashing the competitor to their obvious favorite. I don’t have a personal favorite. I believe in choosing the right processor for the purpose whatever the brand.

  3. I’m glad I found this article because I’m a beginner using computers. I’ve started doing lots of web surfing and emailing. Thanks to this article, I know not to buy AMD computers because Intels are fast. I just wish they didn’t cost so much…but hey thanks for the article cause now I know I gotta do what I gotta do.

  4. INTEL SUCKS SIMPLE
    UNFORTUNATELY THE I7 KICKS YOU KNOW WHAT,IN THE TOP END MARKET.UNFORTUNATELY I DONT HAVE A MONEY TREE.
    AND I LOVE MY AMD CPU’s

  5. What is this, an Intel commercial? My first computer in 1995 was Intel but everything since then has been AMD. The reason is simple. I can build an entire computer for what the I7 costs.

  6. What a dreadful article. Clearly it is not aimed at beginners or “rookies”. I read this article, and I’m not a novice at computers, but I had absolutely no idea which language this writer was using. Sure, if you are into computers, read computer magazines and so on, you may know what he’s writing, but for most of us who are not computer nerds, a totally hopeless article, which is no value to helping decide which processor we should consider when buying a new computer – or aiming to upgrade.

  7. I agree with those who comment on the inappropriate title of the article. I buy my desktop computers from a local shop who builds to match my usage and applications. I wouldn’ t be considering a change right now except there’s a leaking capacitor on my my 4-year old desktop PC with an Intel D865PERL motherboard. If that could be fixed I could save a bundle by keeping what I now have that works just fine for me. My OS is MS Windows XP Pro a 32 bit app.

  8. Hey i have the intel Core`2 in my HP TouchSmart an I love it. It makes exellent presentalions of completed projects, exceptionally reliable, for multiple projects also. TO me it demonstrate greater potential.

  9. Have to agree with most of these posts here; the title of this article contradicts its contents. Most “beginners” will most definately not be overclocking, or need and extreme edition processor. I’m also taking AMD’s corner; they may not have anything to compete with the extreme edition processors but they easily equally match equivilently priced Intel processors in speed, and their systems are alot cheaper to build than the i7’s.

    If i was to recommend processors to a “beginner” then i would offer up an AMD Athlonx2 Dual core 5200+ (2×2.6Ghz) or greater which will slot nicely into a Gigabyte AM2+ motherboard with 4 GB of DDRII 800mhz RAM.

    The other thing the article seemed to avoid is the fact you can put new AM3 CPUs in older AM2+ boards, making future upgrades alot cheaper, as you just have to change any one component and nothing else. Whereas if you have a current skt775 (CORE, CORE2 or new PENTIUM DC etc) intel system, you will have to upgrade Motherboard and RAM if you wanted to use an i7 CPU.

    A “beginner” doesn’t really need to worry about the FSB or Cache or Multiplier; though these become important for PERFORMANCE and TWEAKING and OVERCLOCKING, they are not relevant for a “beginner”.

    Just for the record, I am a power user- I do a fair bit of rendering and decoding and play the latest games. My system is EASILY fast enough for me, yet not cutting edge! The only thing I owuld upgrade is Graphics for gaming.

    My sys:

    AMD Phenom 9950 (4×2.6Ghz) – plenty fast enough, noto the latest though
    DFI LANPARTY DK-790FX – A nice AM2+ board, not expensive
    3GB DDRII 6400 (800mhz) RAM (1x1GB, 1x2GB) – not even dual channel which would vastly improve performance but single channel is still plenty fast enough.
    2x250GB SATAII disks in RAID0 config
    ATI HD4870 Graphics card.

    As I said, not cutting edge, but plenty powerful enough.

    On a quick aside, I’m running Windows 7 release 7068- works fine, brilliant driver support and Vista drivers work fine with it anyway.

    Hopefully some of this is useful to someone…

  10. HELP! I’ll never update anything,by the time my mind gets to where I can think again I’ll be dead and will not need a little black box to play with. I’ll have a Harp and Halo I
    hope. ha! ha! I’m a real beginner I’ll just keep buying my $200.00 computers from the local pawnshop and upgrading the memory. I never used a puter till I WAS 58 years old . I’m 62 now, and I just want to say Thank You Jimmy Hampton, The Computer Instructor who took the time to explain what little I known now to and ol crippled up vet. May GOD Bless you Jimmy where ever you are.

    Robert Briggs
    USN Retired

  11. i bought an intel once a P2[3?] 450 w. 128mb ram years ago. i rem it cost 3 times the AMD equivalent for same , if not less, perf.
    since then i have always bought AMD and foundn them to be reliable, stable and – more importantly for my low budget – damn cheap. i always thought intel waas for those with cash to afford them or big companies. intel has HUGE advertising campaigns that MUST have some effect on the prices of intel equipment. AMD has balways seemed to me to be by word of mouth cos everybody i have ever known who has enough understanding to build their own pc has ALWAYS bought AMD simply for costs reasons.

    i mean – why spend £150 on a not quite latest intel cpu,etc when AMD do for example, a 7750 dual core with asus microATX mobo for less than £100?? that and 4gbb ram for £20 you have the bulk of an upgrade for less than the price of a intel cpu of equal capabilities?

    AMD have been keeeping me in pcs since 1999 and have always been VERY VERY affordable, reliable and with plenty of AMD users happy to help out with issues.

    don’t forget i am someone who can’t afford the latest gear so i’m always one or two generations behind the latest releases but intel always seem reluctat to drop the prices of the older cpus for users like me.

    nope. AMD rulem afaic, and i have many many mates in UK who all use AMD for same reason… why spend fortune for something that has a different label thru expensive ad camapigns to convince us it’s worth paying X times the price of thier arch rival, AMD?

    sadly, first time buyes of pcs often insist on INTEL when asking my advice… why? i guess intel ads must convince. sooner or later tho those very same ppl changeto AMD when they see the diff in prices for parts etc [tho not all].

    thanks
    ras

  12. Yeah, this is not the best “beginner’s” guide for selecting a processor.

    Your average email/office/web surfing user can probably get by with an old Pentium D or Athlon 64 with 1 or 2 gigs of RAM and on board video running 32 bit XP. The limiting factor for this depends on if you can find the hardware anymore.

    If you use database programs, memory is king however, remember if you are using a 32 bit OS you will only be able to address about 3 Gigs of memory.

    DDR2 memory is cheaper and does just fine for most applications. My gaming rig is running 4GB of DDR2 running at 1600MHz and it does fine for any game I want to play.

    “You did NOT talk once in the article about heat!, HEAT KILLS electronics, any type of electronics! and intels all run HOT !”

    Actually, the only Intel processors that ever ran hot were the old P 4 Prescotts. Intel was holding fast to an aging design and refused to update their architecture. In fact, in the beginning, AMDs were notorious for running hot. Their Athlon and Palomino processors could heat a house in the winter.

    Here’s a video:

    “that is why overclockers (as you actually did mention in your article) use AMD.”

    Overclockers only started using AMD when Intel started locking the multipliers on their CPUs. (Intel got tired of overclockers trying to RMA chips when they failed.)

    “‘Intel’s latest architecture moves the memory bus inside the processor so for the very latest, FSB is no longer a factor. This is not the first time for this arrangement. AMD has done this for quite some time with their HyperTransport’

    AMD has built a better processor for years, that is why intel had to rip off there design! just to keep up with the speed!”

    You really don’t know your history do you?

    The only reason AMD was able to get into the processor business (and the reason why I won’t buy their product) is because they used a loophole in patent laws to reverse engineer Intel’s x386 chip and re-brand it as their own. Who ripped off who’s design?

    Thored

  13. I have a AMD in my Pc runing faster than any intel on the market to date with a little help from overclocking and I paid alot less than your going to pay for that over rated intel.Alos the new intels are runing real hot.Better buy a high priced cooler too.

  14. The article is so convoluted and poorly written it is next to worthless…not to mention painful to read. If this is representative of what PC Pitstop is going to be sending to my email I’m going to unsubscribe.

    Not being a cryptologist or mind reader I did not find the information, (whatever it was), helpful at all, which is too bad as the subject is one that I would like to know more about.

  15. Memory speed is important too. You can spend a lot of dough on the fastest processor and still have a slow computer if the memory and memory bus are too slow. Many programs are not able to keep all their data in a cache, even a relatively large one. The article was definitely deficient in not taking a more system wide approach.

  16. WHAT im not one to write and i dont know about computers but the material i just read, the way it was worded was straight to the point i think he’s one of the rare computer guys who knows how to write and knows what he’s talking about.

  17. Mate i have just built my latest Amd toy, it flys and keeps most intel and amd cpu’s honest, quad core especially when i overclock it beats some higher priced cpu’s in benchmarks.Here are the following specs:-
    1.AMD am3 phenom2 x3 720 BE (black edition)unlocked multiplier.
    2.Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P (only ddr3 compatible)
    3.Corsair 2x2GB ddr3 (1600MHZ)
    4.Antec 900 gaming tower
    5.Gigabyte superb 720w power supply with modularised smart cabling.
    6.Palit Radeon HD4870 sonic dual edition 1GB GDDR5.(GPU)
    7.Cooler Master V8 cpu cooler.

    8.Windows vista ultimate 64 bit.Will be changing to the new Windows7 once drivers etc are available.
    This pc exceeds every expectation i require and then some.The best thing is you cannot buy an intel based system for the same amount of dollars that can give you the same performance.you would need to spend atleast another $200 atleast to compete…..

  18. Lets not forget setup and configuration…… Anybody looking to build a faster more reliable system needs to research….
    I am simply running a dual core AMD 5600+, and recently benchmarked it against some very impressive I-7’s and Phenoms….. Only to find them trailing me in the outcome….
    But, I am running an OCZ Vertex SSD, and it is an incredible boost for the whole system…. One of these drives is better then 2 Raptors in Raid0, and better then adding two more cores that will sit there idle….
    Buy an OCZ Vertex….. You will be amazed….

  19. still confused here…
    is this an ad for intel ? these quad core latest edition processors are fine and dandy for extreeme gamers but what about the rest of us who dont want to or cant afford to pay 14 grand for “extreme processors,liquid cooling,8 mg ram,raid 5 yadda yadda yadda”?
    this artice was far from being a beginners guide. there are umpteen processors and designations for them out there and hyping out intel’s was of very little help.

    pardon my grammer “dwayne”…(there’s one in every crowd)

  20. Huge waste of time. Could have just as easily shortened it to:
    ‘Buy the most expensive Intel processor you can afford.”

    Rubbish

  21. PSSSST !
    By the way, AMD has always been more tough and more reliable than intel. Hands down, Over-all average AMD AMD AMD AMD.

  22. Yadie Yadie Yadie,
    If your stuff does what you need it to do, why are you crying…. If you are not a big power user, then why are you keeping up with the jones’. Don’t any of you realize that the more ready you are to pay big bucks for your systems – the more ready “they” are to charge the big bucks. Why do you think our economy is crashing. For that same reason. IF YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE BIG BUCKS THEN “THEY” ARE GOING TO CHARGE YOU THE BIG BUCKS……..Jeeeessshhhh ! Wake Up !

  23. Just finished an upgrade with an AMD quad, 8 gigs mem, and a new mobo to support both. Have been using AMD for years and yes you get more bang for the buck, and I believe better reliability. In regards to picking processor, mobo, and memory, the OS you are going to use means a whole lot more than your individual programs. For instance, going over 4 gigs of mem requires Vista or XP 64 bit to recognize all 8 gigs and use it, providing you are going to stick with Windows for your OS. And it will be the OS that will determine whether or not you will be using all the processor cores you feel the need to own. We all probably need to remind ourselves, when we want to spend those big bucks on upgrades, that a program (not an OS) only puts out one instruction at a time and a single processor only executes one instruction at a time, so speed will always net you more than quantity.

  24. If this is a beginner’s guide, I’d hate to see an advanced one. The author is motivated by showing how much he knows rather than helping someone select a processor.

  25. I tend to lean to Scott’s philosophy… For me, the latest, fastest, seemingly most expensive machines are yet to be justified for home personal use. My 1.5 GHz Intel-something is okay for my use of Office 2000, be it as slow as it is. A lot of us “stagnant” users are content with a combination like this at home. Now, when prices drop and Word loads in the blink of an eye, I will be upgrading. With all the applications my office desk machine has loaded on it (security applications, video applications, a database front end, networking, antivirus, intrusion detection, tunneling, certificates, mail, etc.), I need a more speedy machine at work. My mega-size employer company upgrades hardware and software every three years to minimize cost of unproductive personnel waiting for applications to load. I suppose many companies can justify high-cost purchases just for this reason, then depreciate the whole thing over three years on their taxes. Some flavor of UNIX may be on some machines in state and federal governments, but the higher-up management people are really reluctant to move out of their comfort zone from proven Intel and Microsoft combinations. So these two companies will always seem to have a market. Anything to entice this market will be to Intel’s and Microsoft’s benefit.

  26. LOL , i agree with most the people here, your comparisons suck ! take just about any speed AMD verses the same speed intel processor , and then run just about any application on them. The AMD will run faster, COOLER! and CHEAPER then a intel chip. HANDS DOWN!
    I have always said intel is for people who want to waste money, AMD is for people who want to have fun ! and get work done!

    You did NOT talk once in the article about heat!, HEAT KILLS electronics, any type of electronics! and intels all run HOT !
    that is why overclockers (as you actually did mention in your article) use AMD.

    “Intel’s latest architecture moves the memory bus inside the processor so for the very latest, FSB is no longer a factor. This is not the first time for this arrangement. AMD has done this for quite some time with their HyperTransport”

    AMD has built a better processor for years, that is why intel had to rip off there design! just to keep up with the speed!

  27. While the actual article left me with more questions than answers, I *greatly* enjoy these comments! Perhaps this site should become a wiki instead?

    I agree with the consensus that bigger and faster isn’t really needed… I still have an old p3 1.2Ghz laptop I use daily…

    and once you grow up, you realize that a quad core, 3+Ghz machine is total overkill (unless you do video editing or 3D rendering).

    Oh yeah, and don’t forget that you still gotta pay for the electric! What about an article about the new low power processors? Hmmm??

  28. I have to agree with most posters to say this is not very informative, but it does give basic knowledge. After all this is only a short story. One other technology is speed stepping. What this does is lower the clock speed when the power is not needed. For instance, I am a gamer and I own the Intel E8400 @ 3GHz,with 4 gigs of dual channel ram. When I am surfing the net or using word or excel it clocks down to 2GHz(uses less power). So if you use your system to surf the net you don’t need a 3 GHz processor. Also not allot of programs use multi-core technology. Games tend to keep up a little better, and no game to date even uses quad core. The only software that uses today’s technology is the OS (windows). So if you are not a power user a 1.8 dual core is more than enough power for you. If you want to stay ahead of the game get a quad. One other thing that is not mentioned here is the cache. This is a big deal when it comes to responsiveness. The larger the cache the more responsive it will be.

  29. It’s interesting to note that an article touted as ‘A Beginner’s Guide’ is mostly responded to by people with obviously more experience. I build my own computers also but, if I were a beginner, I’d find this article totally useless. And I agree with several who point out that all mention of AMD seemed to vaporize after the couple of sentences. The author completely missed his intended audience, and shows a definite bias to Intel.

  30. I appreciate the article but don’t quite feel it lived up to its name: “A beginner’s guide”. A guide should give me a range of the choices out there and explain them carefully. All this author wants is “the latest and the greatest architecture.” Fine for him, but we don’t all operate on that cuting edge of technology.

    There should have been a discussion of the various options out there and the pros/cons of them. Since I cannot afford (and for my purposes, do not NEED) “the latest and the greatest,” this article was not helpful.

    I’m not sure that’s the author’s fault, however. Perhaps in the future you could reconsider the titles of your articles. If this were entitled “Know enough about processors to choose the fastest” it would be much better.

    In the meanwhile, I wish you WOULD do a comprehensive beginners guide to processors because I for one could use it!

    Cheers,
    Suzanne

  31. Brad, come on. At the moment, Intel has 83% of the market share and made over $5 billion in profit last year. Do you seriously wonder why they’re in business?

    Bill, the i7 naming convention is still a mystery to most, but if you compare benchmarks like those on Tom’s Hardware, you’ll find that nothing can touch them right now. The i7’s require a different socket type, and the only motherboards available for them now are enthusiast boards that are expensive, not to mention they also require different ram, which is also expensive. There’s PLENTY of information all over the place to help you sort out Intel’s product line. Tom’s Hardware is a great place to start. My advice if you’re a Windows hater…buy a Mac!

  32. Keep in mind most programs do not use more than 1 core or processor, so if you get a mutltiple core, learn how to use affinity and get the most out of your system.

    It is a same that Intel and AMD did not listen back in the 90’s when the were told that the architexture they where using would not go past 4 Ghz, keep in mind that is why there is a push for multiple cores. If they would have listen we could have systems home PCs running at 8 to 10 ghz

  33. I thought the article was pretty good but there was no mention at all of AMD. Choosing a processor is certainly more than choosing between Intel products. I’ve built 4 systems in the last year and choose AMD for each one. Two simple reasons for these choices. 1) Price of the processors and as folks have pointed out price of the motherboards not to mention ram. Core i7 requires DDR3 which is still a lot more expensive than DDR2-800. Put it all together and you have a fairly expensive package. It wasn’t much more than a year ago that Core2Quad was $1000 now there only $200 – $300. 2) Build a system that is better than you need but don’t get the best you can afford if your not a high end gamer. I’m guessing over 50% of folks don’t come close to maxing out my AMD x2 6400 – 3.2 ghz cores (just over $100) on an Asus M3N78-VM board – will accept both AM2 and AM3 processors ($110) with 4 gig of DDR2-800 ($50).

    My 2 cents 🙂

  34. I was already building PC’s in the back of a clone shop when the 386 first made the scene, so I’ve been around PC’s for some time now.

    I’ve never bought a new one in my life.

    I’m suspicious of anyone who makes a flat statement like “Remember to stick with the latest architecture.” Why not “Remember to stick with appropriate architecture”?

    As for “It’s always smart to get the biggest and best…” well, is it really? Maybe if you’re a tweak-head, or you’re a gamer, or a coder or some other power user. Otherwise, that advice is just plain silly IMHO.

    I work from my home in a high-tech field, but everything *I* need to do is more than adequately handled on an old Dell C840 laptop in a dock. Yep, a single-core P4, at 1.8GHz. Horrors!

    I leave it to other folks to drop major dough every 2 or 3 years on a bleeding edge shiny gizmo that will plummet in value while the software to exploit its full capabilities is still being written. Then I’ll buy it off eBay for a couple hundred bucks and get 5 years or so out of it until bloatware forces me to upgrade my hardware again.

    I agree that it’s false economy to mess up your productivity (not to mention your sanity) with inadequate hardware, but IMHO it’s equally wrong-headed to blow a stack of cash on a rocket-fast computer that will spend most of its time waiting on the user. YMMV.

  35. sheesh,
    how much did Intel pay you for that? I’m surprised you even bothered to put the occassional mention of AMD in capitals!

  36. Does not the decision on a processor actually boil down to the applications you will be running. I you use 32 bit applications that cannot do multi-threading, do you need all the cores now offered. Or if you have 64 bit apps none theading, do I need 4 cores or more.

  37. I’m not sure why Intel is still in business. Except for computers sold by companys, i dont know anyone who uses Intel for building their own computers. I also agree that AMD boards are cheaper than intel boards. Why spend that much money?

    I buy processors based on the class (quads, dual cores etc)they are in, and the price range they are in. There isnt that much difference between the top of a class and the midrange processors, and the fact is, the top of the class today will be the midrange within a year.

  38. While very interesting, I’d really like to see someone say which way is best for database, which for excel, which for small server use, etc.
    More memory? More processor? more bus? dual? quad?

  39. I think it’s also important to take the motherboard into consideration when purchasing a processor. The AMD motherboards tend to be less expensive than the Intel. This could affect what type of processor that will be needed.

  40. Forgot to say that I am still running XP Pro (32 bit) and Ubuntu 9.0.4 (64 bit). Anxiously awaiting Win 7-64 to compare it to my Ubuntu.

    Needless to say I am FREAKED OUT by Ubuntu. It is very much beyond what I somehow expected. I believe it is now a very serious contender in taking many people away from the Windows monopoly. At long last a serious threat to the windows juggernaut.

  41. I planned my current build/purchase to give me the lowest priced i7 processor (i7-920) on an Asus P6T motherboard with the ability to go extreme (i7-965) in the future when that price significantly drops. So my processor cost now was less than $290 (920) although I wanted the $1k (965) processor. BTW, I also bought 12GB of ram to be prepared.

    So I am now currently happy with what I now have but I am also prepared to be future happy (if I live that long) when the next greatest cpu brings i7 prices way down.

    It also helped to justify it to the little woman. I showed her the prices of the 2 higher priced i7 and then showed her my much lower priced, bottom of the line i7 !

  42. Dwayne’s off the mark, grammar and syntax notwithstanding. He doesn’t tell me, a once-every-five-year builder, what I need to know. i know a Pentium 4 is more capable than a Pentium 3. But I haven’t kept up with the multiple core stuff, let along the I7 (what’s an I7? was there an I6?)

    Manufacturers would do well to label processors and motherboards in a way that makes industry sense. Heck, color-coding would work for me. Maybe I’m better off buying somebody’s bundled system,you say? OK, what’s the best for running linux? Don’t want no Windows here! I’m not hearing your quick answers…

  43. Why did AMD drop off in the end?

    Look Dwayne, If I had that name I might be looking for Grammer “Da”, However, I do have a third grader and I feel you are very negitive if your response.

  44. For a long time I would have said AMD because of their ondie memory controller, now that intel has it too, I’d check out sites like, AMDzone.com, tomshardware.com, anandtech.com. You can do a search for AMD vs Intel Quad Core and find quite a few other comparison sites… For the most part if you buy anything that is quad core, you are not going to need to replace it for a long time(maybe 3 years), as the software that actually utilizes this power is still on it’s way. Remember that system memory is nearly as important as CPU when you are building a system. and DDR3 is better than DDR2. But this isn’t so straight forward as AMD now has the ability to pass some number crunching off to the video card which could skew certain benchmarks on the newest hardware.

  45. Sorry, but I still don’t know which Intel or AMD processor I should select to give me the fastest system for the price I am prepared to pay.

    If AMD & Intel won’t provide user understandable comparisons, then either the industry (PCPitstop etc) or the governments might have to bang some heads together

  46. Forgotten in this article is the size of onboard memory, more memory, faster instructions are processed, I remember some Intels with 8K being so slow….

  47. I don’t know who is writing for this site, but a third grader could do better. Information is correct but grammar is frightening which makes it hard to take anything here seriously and makes the material confusing if you’re not already familiar with what is written. Peace out

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