About The Computer – Processors

About The Computer - Processors

It’s been quite a while since the PC Buying Guide was launched, for 2009 – we’re start off with the series called “About The Personal Computer“!

Being the first among the series, we’re going to look at the brain of every computer – the PROCESSOR.

The Series

The objective of the “About The Computer” series to provide a simplistic layman-style explanation on the various computer components that makes up a computer – whether it is a Desktop unit or Laptop / Notebook unit.

With the understanding of the components, readers will have better knowledge as to what should they pay attention when it comes to buying a computer.

What Is The Processor?

The processor, also known as microprocessor or Central Processing Unit (CPU), is THE part of your computer that processes data – hence the word “process” is found in the name.

In other words, it behaves like a brain to your system. Even as you load this page, there’s a hefty amount of data that went through the processor.

Imagine this, the system took note of your clicks and whatever you typed as instructions, then proceed to find it’s way through the Internet to acquire the data, then collects all the data and formulated it to the page you’re reading right now.

Here is what a typical processor looks like.

About The Computer - Processors

Intel? AMD? Core2Duo? Phenom?

They’re just brands. You have Intel and AMD for processors, just like how Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Porsche and whatever else out there for cars. Do bear in mind that the world has more than just Intel and AMD, it’s just that Intel and AMD are the 2 biggest names in the processor industry at the time of this article.

Currently Intel is the market leader when it comes to processors, AMD was the leader a few years back. The cycle goes on.

And what about those names like Core 2 Duo or Phenom or whatever confusion mumbo jumbo? They’re indicators of the processor’s range, just like how you have CITY, CIVIC and ACCORD for Honda sedan cards indicating their model range for example.

Single-core? Dual-Core? Quad-Core?

I’m trying not to get technical but I believe covering the core related matter is inevitable. 🙁 To explain this, I’ll make it really simple – Single-core is like 1 brain on that piece of processing unit you saw earlier. Dual-core is like 2 brains on it. Quad-core is like 4 brains on it.

While the world is heading to a “more-core” environment, the average user would do fine even with just single-core processor. Most computer users use less than 5% of their computer’s processing capability.

Games perform much better on dual-core processors than single core processors. Latest games such as Grand Theft Auto IV (GTAIV) are starting to show signs of Quad-Core being needed for optimal gaming experience, but that doesn’t mean you should buy a Quad-core right away.

Choosing The Processor

Confused yet? I hope not, so I’ll just make it very simple on how to choose a processor.

For surfing the Internet / E-mail / Office productivity / Music listening / Movie Watching

Any processor will do, even the cheapest processor you can find in the market. When I started using the Internet, the processors I used was less than 100Mhz. My mother currently uses a 1.2Ghz processor that’s more than 7 years’ old and has no problem using the latest browsers. Do note that playing 720p and 1080p high-definition videos do require much more processing power, so you should aim for at least an Intel Pentium Dual-Core G6950 or something similar for that purpose.

For computer gaming

– Any processor will do but games will load faster if you have a faster processor. If you have a decent graphic card, pairing it with a faster processor also helps in optimizing the graphic card’s performance. Personally I would say a processor within RM 300 – 600 range would be just nice for playing games, there’s not a need to spend anything more than that.

For graphic / video & audio encoding / CAD

– Any processor will do BUT the higher the specs, the lesser wait for you as the processor could get tasks done faster. As to how much faster it goes, it depends on how demanding are the tasks (eg, encoding a super huge high quality audio source) and whether the application is able to utilize the feature of the processor (eg, does it take advantage of additional cores? or does it work better on faster processor speed?).

AMD or Intel? Let’s clear the confusion. 🙂

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  1. I think you got some of your fact wrong. If i am correct, AMD never leads the consumer processor market. Few years back when the athlon-64 product line performs much better than the pentium 4 it just took a big chunk of the sales in processor. And that’s just from 10% to roughly about 20% of overall processor sales. So that leaves intel with still about 80% in the market. And that is far from leading the industry. I’m not saying that i’m a intel fanboy or such but with the product such as core2duo and the i7. It just well, leave AMD quite behind. Now its just down to the price vs performance to pick out what suits you better.

  2. Author

    I won’t disagree with you on what you stated.

    Perhaps I should have word it better like what you had mentioned. 🙂 When I was writing, I was thinking of the time where the Socket 754 / 939 / early AM2 days where AMD was indeed giving Intel the run for their money by providing the choice price:performance processor in the market.

    Sorry that it looked like I was saying market, eg ENTIRE WORLD. I do agree that it looked that way. I’m not going to edit the post though. 🙂 I’m fine with mistakes being pointed out.

    Anyway, AMD looks pretty much behind now, Deneb doesn’t look promising enough IMO. Currently the i7 + X58 alone so powerful, I find it not even worth getting any other LGA775 + X48 combo already.

  3. at one time AMD do lead the market but not for long. Intel have it all after released the Core 2 Duo i think.
    Now no point buying AMD except you dont have budget… haha

  4. So let say I’m getting myself a new rig for gaming
    So duo or quad or i ?

  5. i believe most ppl would buy the mainstream processors, and AMD is still quite competitive in tat price range.

  6. AMD did lead in performance back in the age of Intel Pentium 4. Even my old Pentium 3 beat Pentium 4 in performance. 😛

    However, Intel leads all the way after Core 2 Duo. And now Core i7. 😀

  7. Author

    @joshua / iostream – actually la, if not budget also can get Intel what. see how cheap are the E2xxx series. you can get a G31 board for about RM 200 and you could still overclock it. 🙂

    @Esoule – I’d say dual-core would do just fine. I see no purpose getting anything higher than Q6600 for quads. why? because of the i7 and whatever new stuff from Intel. so just go dual-core that are about RM 600 or less, then save up for the next big jump. 🙂

    @Jayce – yeah i7 rawks man. now the board and DDR3 bundles are cheap. just the processor costs a bomb but it’s well worth the $$$. kills the X48 setup IMO.

  8. I’m one of the stupid dude that bought Pentium D.

    Ah, dishonest sales man. Now I’ve gotta live with the constant LOUD noise of the fan.

    Anyway, it’s always better to have companies battle among themselves and the only one who benefits is us consumers. 🙂

  9. omg i drool all over the floor when reading your articles 😡
    burp.com pictars are too… haha

    btw, nice write up :thumbs:

  10. Author

    @xcen – sales people are usually full of inaccurate info and paint them really well. 🙂

    @kt – thanks. 🙂 a tech guy needs to eat too.

  11. all people think amd is fast hot than intel.. it’s that true

  12. It may be better to build your own computer these days.

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