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Choosing Your CPU (Processor)

<<-- Back to Choosing Components
-->> Next: Choosing a CPU Cooling Method (Fan & Heatsink)

I recommend that you first choose your CPU before you start shopping for a motherboard. The type of motherboard you select will depend mostly on your processor choice, because motherboards are designed to work with only certain CPUs. For example, a socket H2 motherboard will only accept an Intel Processor, while a or Socket AM2+ will only accomodate an AMD processor.

Often times you can find save substantially by purchasing a processor, motherboard, and memory;bundle that's been pre-assembled by a reputable reseller.

So, which processor is right for you? Well, if you're not very well versed in PC architecture, buying a motherboard/cpu bundle iconor a barebones iconsystem may be a good way to start.

To help give you a frame of reference, take a look at three general categories of CPUs below. This may help you to narrow down your choices.

Economy Processors

If saving cash is a priority for you, you may want to go with a lower-cost processor. Remember what I said earlier about saving money with a motherboard/cpu combo. At the time of this writing there are motherbaord/cpu combos available for around $100. And this includes up to 2GB of memory.

Intel CPUs from $50-$99 icon
AMD CPUs from $50-$99 icon

Mid-Range Processors

CPUs in this category aren't what anyone would consider the latest and greatest, cutting edge technology, but they're close. The processors are usually 6-9 month old technology and are just a small step below the brand new, "high-end" processors.

This category is usually the best choice due to the high prices charged for newer processors. The difference in performance between these processors and the latest high-end models is usually negligible and hardly worth the price premium.

AMD CPUs from $100-$199 icon
AMD CPUs from $200-$499 icon
Intel CPUs from $100-$199 icon
Intel CPUs from $200-$499 icon

High-End Processors

If it's performance you're looking for, then these processors are for you. But be prepared to pay a hefty premium. These CPUs are generally the choice of hardcore gamers or users of other CPU-intensive applications. Extra Static RAM (SRAM) cache usually adds quite a bit to the price of these CPUs.

In summary, carefully consider your own personal needs when selecting your processor. Try to stay within your budget, and remember... unless you're a SERIOUS gamer or you're into intense video editing/animation, you probably won't benefit from paying the premium for the higher-end CPUs.

AMD CPUs from $500-$749 icon
AMD CPUs from $750-$999 icon
Intel CPUs from $500-$749 icon
Intel CPUs from $750-$999 icon