5 Factors When Choosing A CPU For Your PC

When planning to build a new PC or upgrade your current one, one of the key components that you should consider is its CPU. CPUs are processing units that are responsible for handling every single instruction going inside your PC.

A high-quality CPU can be used to run even the most resource-intensive programs, software, and games.

No wonder choosing the suitable computer processor (CPU) for your PC is tough. If you’re not a hardcore PC gamer and just looking to run normal Windows programs, you don’t need the most expensive CPU, but it is also something you don’t want to be cheap on either.

an image with CPU isometric banner

We know that choosing a CPU can be a bit of a minefield, so here are some factors to consider when selecting your CPU for your next machine.

1. How will you use your CPU?

The most significant factor when choosing a CPU is how often you’re going to be using it and for what purposes.

Is it for heavy-duty video editing, a gaming PC, or large-scale software such as Photoshop?

For basic tasks like watching the video, browsing the web, and word processing, an entry-level chip with two or four cores in the range of $50-$100 will be sufficient.

an image with microprocessor

For high-end gaming performance, go for a mid-range Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU $200-$300 range. They come with high clock speeds. If you’re looking for CPUs that cater to high-end gaming requirements, then you need to get the best processor for gaming.

On the other hand, if you are going to use your PC for creative media work like video editing or overclocking, it is best to go for a CPU with more cores or speed. A Ryzen 7 chip or a CPU that comes under the $300-$400 range will be great.

For 3D animation or 4K video projects, get yourself an Intel Core X or AMD Threadripper CPU in the range of $400 and more.

2. Cores

Multi-core processors have taken over single-core processors nowadays. And even software is designed to utilize multi-core technology. You can choose any from dual-core to eight-core processors, depending on the efficiency and speed required.

an image with intel core processor on keyboard

However, note that multi-core processors can only perform if the software running it is designed to utilize it. Thus, it is crucial to match system requirements with core availability.

3. Cache size

Cache size becomes important when you have many apps on your PC that you use often. Since the CPU will store info regarding these apps, you will be able to launch these apps faster.

an image with cache written by keyboard buttons

For instance, Intel i5-9400F has a cache size of 9MB. Some CPUs offer a very small cache size of 3 MB, while some have even 20 MB. Choosing one depends on your usage.

4. Integrated Vs. Dedicated graphics

When you consider purchasing a new personal computer, one of the most important factors to consider is what kind of graphics card you should choose.

When selecting a desktop computer, you can choose to purchase either an integrated graphics processor or a dedicated video card for your system.

an image with graphic card illustration

Some CPUs come with integrated graphics, and they are costlier than the standard CPUs. If you are playing lite games, this type of CPU will be suitable. For hardcore gamers, it is best to go for dedicated graphics.

For non-gamers, it is still worth getting a CPU with integrated graphics since it enhances the visual quality of wallpaper, icons, and desktops. It will also give you a better user experience while watching movies and browsing images.

5. Socket compatibility

Socket compatibility is a crucial factor when you buy a CPU, as socket compatibility enables the interface between your motherboard and its CPU.

If you have already bought a motherboard, see that the processor you install is well-suited with the motherboard’s socket. And when building your PC around the processor, make sure that the motherboard is well-matched with your existing processor.

an image with CPU slot socket

For example, AMD has adopted one socket, AM4, with its current-generation Ryzen and Athlon components (except for Threadripper). So, with a BIOS update, a current-generation Ryzen chip will be compatible with a previous-generation Ryzen motherboard and the other way round.

However, in recent years, Intel does not support backward compatibility with its current-generation chips and previous-generation motherboards, though the socket is the same.

For instance, 1151-socket motherboards aren’t compatible with current-generation 1151-socket CPUs as the current-generation chips come with more cores and their power delivery subsystem requirements are different.

That’s a Wrap!

Picking out a CPU can be daunting and confusing. There are many things to consider and plenty of options to choose from. You need to know how it works and how you can get the most out of it.

With this in mind, we went over some of the important characteristics of CPUs to help you make an informed decision.

At the same time, you need to get a CPU that aligns with your requirements. Will you be working with numbers and spreadsheets? Or do you need a computer that can handle graphics-heavy games? These different needs—and your budget —will also play a major role when you look for a CPU for your PC.

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