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 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.
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. 🙂