What is a CPU?
What's the best processor for budget gaming?The best Intel Processor value for budget gaming has to be the G3258. This is a haswell chip and will require an LGA1150 board to support it. It's an awesome chip to overclock and for the price point you can put a lot more money in your GPU and really push your performance to the max. Over on the AMD side, this distinction would probably have to go to the AMD 860K or the AMD FX-6300. Both make great choices for an AMD build with the former being an FM2+ chip and the latter built for the AM3+ platform. If you can spring for the additional money, the FX-6300 is a real sweat spot in gaming processor / desktop application performance as that CPU comes with 6 cores all running at 3.5GHz.
Best Bang for Your Buck Upgrades: Choosing a ProcessorUpgrading your processor can be tricky; there are a lot of compatibility issues which can make the whole operation a headache. However, if your system is bogged down with an ancient, out-of-date processor, nothing will give you better bang-for-your-buck than will a shiny new CPU.
Determining compatibility is far-and-away the most difficult part of a successful CPU upgrade. This is because compatibility is entirely determined by your computer's motherboard-a component about which you probably know very little.
The first thing you should know is that every motherboard is built around a socket, which is the slot where the processor plugs into the computer. This socket cannot be upgraded, adapted, or modified to accept any processor for which it was not originally intended. In other words, you're stuck with the socket you've got unless you want to go through the hassle of buying a new motherboard altogether.
Since different processors are compatible with different sockets, your CPU choices will be limited by the type of socket found on your motherboard, though this isn't the only factor. What you'll ultimately want is a list, provided by the motherboard's manufacturer, of which processors will work with their board. Big name manufactures provide these on their websites, but you have to know your motherboard's model number, and that requires a little bit of foot-work.
Information about your motherboard can be found in a few different ways. First, if you're lucky enough to have your motherboard's manual you can check there, this is the absolute best and most reliable source of information and will end your search right there. Unfortunately, if you, like most folks, bought your computer from Dell, HP, or some other big name manufacturer, you're more likely to have gotten a scary warning that you should never open your computer, than to have gotten a manual about your motherboard. In these cases I like to turn to a free, downloadable program called CPU-Z which will quickly analyze your PC and tell you exactly what you've got under the hood.
Once you've determined which motherboard you've got, it's time to turn to Google. Use the motherboard's model number in the search and, hopefully, in the top few results you'll find your motherboard's product page which will provide a list of compatible CPUs. If not, you can always ask an expert, post your motherboard's manufacturer and model number in the comments below and I'll give you a hand!
When it comes down to it, the motherboard's manufacturer is the ultimate decider when it comes to CPU upgrades, if you can't find information anywhere else about which processors will or won't work with your board, you'll have to take it up with the man.
Once you've figured out which processors you can use, you can start thinking about which one you should use.
The number of cores found on a processor should be the first thing you look for, the more the better. Going back to the processor-as-a-guy-at-a-desk analogy I used in the RAM section having a multi-core processor is like having multiple guys at the desk. These workers function together, dividing smaller tasks amongst themselves and breaking larger tasks into smaller chunks that they can split as well.
Having multiple workers, or cores, will improve your computer's performance in a couple of ways. First, since each core is able to work on tasks independently, you'll enjoy better multi-tasking, i.e. faster performance when you've got two programs open at once. Secondly, large programs like games, video encoders, and such will be able to divide and conquer, again resulting in better performance. Nearly all modern processors possess at least two cores, though four and six-core CPUs are also available.
The next factor is GHz, which is basically the speed of the processor. This spec can be a little bit tricky to gauge because the unit used to measure it, a hertz (GHz stands for giga-hertz or one billion hertz) is pretty ambiguous. While we think of it as a measure of speed, it's actually a measure of the amount of time it takes to complete one cycle of work. However, it doesn't define or indicate how much is actually completed during that cycle.
Think of this like the gears on a bicycle. One full pedal on 1st gear while riding a bike won't get you very far, maybe a few feet. However, completing that same full pedal on 5th might get you a few yards. This is because, on higher gears, you complete more work with one pedal than you do on lower gears. In the same way, two processors can complete one full hertz, or cycle, and yet accomplish a very different amount of work.
Because of this, the GHz rating of a processor is really only an accurate indicator of speed when considering two CPUs of the same brand and series. For example, you can accurately assume that an Intel Core i5-2600K 3.4GHz processor is faster than an Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz processor because the first completes its cycles more quickly than the second. Yet an AMD Phenom II X4 970 which runs a 3.5GHz actually runs more slowly than either of the Intel processors because it accomplishes less with each hertz.
The best way to compare processors is to check their benchmarks. Benchmarks are scores gleaned from computer programs that act like obstacle courses for your computer, enabling users to accurately test which components are better/faster than others. These scores are available from many sources online, but the biggest and thus most accurate is called Passmark. This site provides an easy to read database of all the CPUs in use and ranks them from best to worst.
This refers to the processor's clock speed, which is the amount of time it takes for a computer to complete one round of accepting, calculating, and returning data. Generally a faster clock speed is better, especially when comparing processors from the same line (i.e. one Intel Core i3 against another Core i3 processor); however it is not the only factor to consider.Cores
Most modern CPUs integrate multiple "cores", each core able to receive and complete its own set of instructions but both housed on the same chip-imagine one car with multiple engines. Processors today range from one to eight cores with more and more on the horizon.
The advantage of multi-core processors lies in their ability to compete multiple operations at once. For example, a dual-core processor running Windows, could dedicate one core to regular Windows operations and use the other core to control a web browser, word processor, or game, allowing both programs to work almost as if it were the only one running.Heat and Noise
As processors work they generate heat as a byproduct. For this reason all processors are equipped with a cooling unit, most typically a fan. It is this CPU fan that is responsible for a vast majority of the noise your computer makes. A processor with fewer cores and a lower clock speed will generally expel less heat and generate less noise than a more powerful processor.Bringing it Together
Processor choice ultimately comes down to the need your computer will fulfill.
So what's out there? Here's a listing of some of the more popular lines of processors out on the market today. Be sure to research each processor you're serious about and look at processor comparisons (ie - the i5 processor vs. i7 processors, etc.) and pick the fastest processor your budget can afford.AMD AMD A Series
AMD FX CPUs
Intel Intel Celeron
Intel Core i3
Intel Core i5
Intel Core i7
Intel Dual Core
Intel Pentium 4
Intel Quad Core
How to choose a processor for a desktopThe first choice to make when building a custom PC is to determine your needs as a user, and pick a CPU to match. There are only two major CPU brands to choose from: Intel and AMD. Intel processors offer better performance, while AMD processors offer better value.
Each CPU has a socket type, and it's best to pick the latest processor socket for your brand to ensure your system is "future-proof", in addition to the fact that CPUs with modern processor socket types are almost always faster than comparable processors with older socket types. Intel's most widely used socket type is LGA1155, LGA 1150, and LGA 2011 while AMD has just released socket FM3, FM2, and FM1 processors in addition to their popular AM3+ socket.
The effectiveness of a CPU is determined mostly by the processor's clock speed in gigahertz (GHz) and the number of processor cores. Processors that have high clock speeds perform better under applications that have high processing power demand, including encoding video files and playing high end PC games.
Multi-core CPUs are the norm today, and most CPUs on the market have at least two cores, though some have three or four, and a rare few have six or even eight. A computer with multiple processor cores can assign different cores to different tasks, allowing you to run multiple programs without any slowdown.
If you build your own PC for performing a wide range of simultaneous low-end tasks, a CPU with four or more cores is recommended. For mid-range to high end gaming systems, a faster clock speed is more important, though modern games are starting to take more advantage of the multi-threading options offered by multi-core CPUs.
Top 10 Intel CPUs of 2016
We updated our list of of the Top 10 Intel processors as rated by overall benchmark scores from UserBenchmark.com.
Be sure to see which CPUs made the list and read the page for information on which are the best values, etc.
Top Intel Processors of 2016
Below are the top 10 Intel processors of 2016 utilizing data collected from real users in real-life scenarios. This table will be periodically updated and at least once a month.
Last Updated: 3/4/2016
With many product lines and benchmarks to research it is no mystery why most first time builders do not feel confident in relying on their intuition to pick the processor for their custom gaming PC. To alleviate this issue we at OutletPC have compiled a list of the top ten Intel Processors of March 2016.
To start things off let's begin by explaining how we retained the data used in our chart. The charts used in this analysis have freshly calculated benchmarks based off of real user data. This means all stats above are from users just like yourself and not some tech in a lab coat with liquid nitrogen. To further purify our data, our list only includes top ranking CPUs which have garnered more than 50 data samples. Now that we've taken care of how we used the data, we can get into our results.
Topping the chart in the #1 position is the Intel Core i7-6700k skylake processor. This shouldn't come as a surprise to most users as the 6700k is an unlocked CPU which is already at a blistering 4.0ghz stock clockspeed. If you enjoy bragging right and owning the latest and greatest product on the market we definitely recommend the intel i7-6700k.
Find yourself wanting something a little cheaper but modern? The i5-6600k is just what you're looking for. This recently release skylake CPU boasts a 3.5ghz clockspeed and comes in at #4 on our list.
If you find yourself interested in any of the chip mentioned in this article, all products can be purchased by clicking the link in the datasheet.
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