Choosing a Processor

Building a Custom Computer: choosing a processor

Choosing a processor that works for you

Choosing a ProcessorWhile you can start anywhere you wish, is always easier to start with a processor, or central processing unit. There are several reasons for this. The kind of processor you choose, will determine your mother board, the memory you can use and the kind of hard drive you must get. The two processor companies, AMD and Intel, both have fantastic options. However, there are several factors that go into choosing a processor.


The socket refers to how your processor connects to your mother board. Choosing the right socket to fit your processor is extremely important. Intel and AMD both have unique socket types and even within their own range of processors, the sockets will be different. AMD uses pins, while Intel has pins on the board itself. When choosing a processor, this is the most important factor to consider.


Cores refer to divisions within the processor itself, so choosing a processor isn’t just about speed alone. That is, there are smaller processors within the main processor. That means that the processor can handle more than one task at a time. Hyperthreading is a process that allows a computer to see each core as two. Most programs, as of today, don’t really use more than four cores.

Clock rate:

Clock rate refers to the speed the process runs. However, it is very important to consider more than just the clock rate. Having more than one core will have a greater effect than having just more than one core. For processors that of an overclocked, this can be change dramatically. It can have a dramatic effect when choosing a processor.


Cache refers to the memory that is on the CPU itself. Whenever the CPU access information, it will automatically learn which codes are used more often. This means that it won’t have to request information from the mother board itself. This will save time and a vastly improves the performance of the CPU. Cache should be one of the most important considerations when choosing a processor.


The bandwidth is how much information the processor can process in just one instruction. It is comparable to how many lanes are on a highway. While 32-bit was common in the past, today 64-bit is the new norm. The reason is that 64-bit handles information a lot more efficiently.
Front Side Bus Speed:

The front side bus speed determines how fast information can get into the processor from the system memory. While clock speed is largely determined by the processor itself, the front side bus speed is influenced by a number of factors, including ram the motherboard and the system clock speed. So it is very important to select components that allow for optimum performance.

While there are other factors involved in choosing a processor, these are the most common. Today, processors are changing so dramatically that more and more features are being released with each coming generation. Choosing a processor is the single most important decision when building a new computer as it influences what components you will need to buy. Lower end processors are perfect for the occasional user, while heavy users will need more. As discussed in part one, your needs will determine what you should get.

Matthew Mallicoat

I am a technical writer, very much involved in the world of technology and a lover of all things electronic. I love anything from PCs, video gaming, mobile devices, jailbreaking, etc.