How to Choose a Processor (CPU)

By Samuel Wilson

In the previous section, we discussed how to properly determine your budget for your computer build. Now that we have a budget established, we can focus on processor (CPU) selection. Here we will be providing you with some information to help assist you, as you look through the various types of CPU’s that are available on the market. There are different CPU’s to fit each of the budget and build types. If you need to review content from the previous section, you can visit:

The processor (CPU) is essentially the brain of your computer and it helps carry out the various tasks you give it. Processors are available in many different socket types such as: AM3+, FM2+ (made by AMD) and LGA 1150, LGA, 1151, and LGA 2011-v3 (made by Intel), core count, cache, and varying clock speeds, such as 2.5GHz, 3.0GHz, 3.5GHz, etc. Higher clock speeds mean your CPU is able to carry out tasks (instructions) faster. Most modern day CPU’s have multiple cores and for the most part, additional cores allow you to carry out more sets of tasks at one time.

Various programs can benefit from having additional cores because it’s able to operate more efficiently; the programs  are able to carry out multiple sets of tasks (instructions) simultaneously. Multi-core CPU’s can benefit you, if you are editing video, running multimedia applications, gaming, or when you’re multitasking. A fine example of multitasking is having a lot of Internet browser tabs open, while you’re running multiple programs at the same time. Other factors besides your CPU play a role in how well your computer performs as you’re multitasking. These factors include things such as the capacity/speed of your  memory modules (RAM) and hard drives.

If you aren’t going to be doing lots of simultaneous tasks, you probably don’t need to worry about buying a top of the line CPU right now (if things change in the future, you can revisit this option).
For those of you who choose to do a budget build, you may consider selecting a processor (CPU) such as a FX-4350 CPU (Socket AM3+) from AMD or you can consider a CPU from Intel. In a budget build, you would generally choose from the Intel Pentium or Celeron Processor line. An option from this line, would include a processor such as the Intel Pentium G3250 (Socket LGA 1150).

The AMD FX-4350 CPU (Socket AM3+) and the Intel Pentium or Celeron’s are great options for this type of build, since these CPU’s provide a lot of computing power for their price. These CPU options should easily handle your light daily computer usage. Remember, these types of CPU’s perform best with light workloads and since you aren’t placing demanding workloads on these CPU’s, you should be pleased with your choice. (If you need to review the various build types (Budget, Mid-Range, High-End ) from a previous section visit:

Doing a mid-range build affords you with some additional options, you can take advantage of certain CPU’s that have a built in graphics accelerator (GPU) on the chip. AMD, utilizes this in their APU’s, they were able to combine their multi-core processors with the technology from their Radeon graphics line. This in turn, resulted in a single chip that is able to deliver impressive graphical and computing performance at an affordable price. The AMD APU’s, allows you to watch quality videos, do some multimedia work, and even do some light gaming, without the need for a dedicated graphics card (GPU).  The A8-7650 APU (Socket FM2+) from AMD can work well, if you’re looking for an “integrated graphics” solution. This APU, performs well and provides a lot of bang for your buck. Depending on what you’re doing, this option can possibly save you money, since you may not have to buy a dedicated GPU also known as a graphics or video card.

If your mid-range computing needs are a little greater, an APU may not be your answer and you may need a dedicated graphics card (GPU) for watching HD movies, using some multimedia applications, and for moderate gaming. For these types of uses, a mid-range CPU with a separate graphics card (GPU) may be the way to go. CPU’s such as the FX-6350, FX-8320, and FX9370 (SocketAM3+) are great options by AMD (

On the other side of things, you have several options from Intel. Some of these options include various CPU’s from within the Core i3 and i5 Intel processor lines. These CPU’s are available in various socket types such as LGA 1150, LGA, 1151, LGA 2011-v3, etc. Some of your options include the Core i3 4130 (Socket LGA 1150) and the Core i5 4460 (LGA 1150). Your budget generally dictates what series you will get, the Core i5 processors generally offer better performance than the Intel Core i3 processor line.

You can generally reserve the top of the line CPU’s for high-end computer builds.  High workloads such as editing video/multimedia, running large applications, watching 4k content, heavy multitasking, and playing the latest video game titles on High Settings, are generally going to require a high-end CPU, along with the purchase of a dedicated GPU. CPU’s such as the FX-8350, FX-8370, and FX-9590 (SocketAM3+) are some of the top of the line options by AMD.

Intel’s Core i7 processors are generally the product line that high-end home users look into. These are pretty powerful CPU’s, but they come at a premium price. Some of your options within the Core i7 processor line include the i6700k (Socket LGA 1151) and the 5960x (Socket 2011v-3). These types of CPU options coupled with a dedicated GPU and various other quality components, will allow you to perform task such as watching 4k content, HD multimedia editing, high-end gaming, and much more.

Additional things to consider are as follows: most budget to mid-range CPU’s come with heatsink cooling units for the CPU. If they do not, make sure you purchase one that fits the CPU Socket you have chosen. Another things to keep in mind, is most higher end CPU’s require additional power and cooling, so you need to take these things into consideration when choosing your components.

Now that  you some background and knowledge on how to choose a CPU, we can move on to next topic. Stay tuned, as I discuss how to select your next component, the motherboard. You’re eventually going to be taking the processor you selected, and placing it on the motherboard. The motherboard is where you connects all of the various components of your computer build.  Visit for additional information.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email