Buying a new PC these days can be hard, especially if one has no idea how to choose a good one. If you have been shopping for a laptop or a desktop recently, you may have noticed that the price of a computer is highly correlated to the type of the processor it comes with. For example, there are hefty price tags attached to the hip new Intel Core i-range processors. If you are on a budget, you may have noticed that the overall PC prices are considerably cheaper for Pentium or Celeron processors that have been on the market for a while. Obviously, you buy a laptop to last at least five years. So, you are probably asking yourself whether it’s worth it to spend an extra couple of hundred dollars on one of the i-processors or save money and buy a Pentium or a Celeron-equipped PC.
Let’s take a look at what the best PC processors are, and the big question: “Which Intel processor should I buy?”.
What is a Processor Anyway?
The processor can simply be explained as the “brain” of your computer. Processors execute the code that enables you to type, make calculations, surf the web or watch videos on your computer. It’s also the thing that makes your laptop or desktop CPU case very hot with prolonged use.
There are numerous computer processors available in the electronics market. There are only three major processor manufacturers—Intel, AMD and Cyrix. These three companies are largely similar when it comes to the quality and speed of the processors they produce, but Intel-equipped computers are more widely available and popular, so this article will focus on Intel chips.
Why does the Type of Processor Matter?
The processor determines the performance of the computer you buy. Usually, cheaper processors can handle a mild to moderate workload without overheating or causing lags, and expensive processors can handle very demanding tasks, such as video editing. Therefore, the type of processor you want to buy depends on your workload and what you want to do on your new computer. The faster the processor, more tasks it can handle.
How fast a processor is measured in clock speed, which you see as the GHz number in spec information. However, mere speed is not only what determines a good processor. The number of cores the processor has also matter. Most modern processors have multiple cores, which means they can handle several tasks simultaneously. Also, new processors come with more efficient heat sinks (the ability to produce less heat) and better graphics performance.
If you are an average consumer, you don’t have to worry about things like the generation of the processor and similar technical aspects. What you have to worry about is the kind of work you expect to do on the new computer.
So, Which Intel Processor Should I Buy?
Intel’s Core i-processors have more cores, higher clock speeds and more cache (memory). The i3 is the oldest of this particular microprocessor, and the i7 is the latest available version.
Intel’s older processors, Celeron and Pentium, have two cores. (There is also a Pentium quad-core version.) The dual-core i3 is only slightly more powerful than a Pentium, but it’s more efficient at handling the two cores. Core i5 has four cores, and i7 comes with four, six or eight cores.
Now, what you should buy really depends on what you want to do. If you only need your computer for word processing or similar low-demand tasks, a Celeron would do. If you are an average user who wants the computer to handle everyday tasks like MS Office, web browsing, watching videos and playing the occasional game, then a Pentium should do fine. Core i3 is a little bit better for gamers. Only the hardcore users that need to do high-demand tasks such as video editing, Photoshop or graphics-intensive gaming should consider buying a computer with Core i5 or i7.
The performance of a computer does not solely depend on the processor alone. The available RAM and the quality of the OS also matter. Therefore, if you have specific demands from a computer, consult a technician regarding which specs would suit those demands best.