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    CPUs (Processors)

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    • Which Processor Do I Need?

      A computer processor, or central processing unit (CPU), is the brain inside your computer. And the right processor for you will depend on your needs. If you're a light computer user who just needs something for emails, websites, and YouTube, then a simple dual core processor is an excellent choice. If you're a gamer, or starting to get into some basic photo and video editing, then look into a quad core processor. Finally, if you're an industry professional looking for the best, look towards processors with 6 or more cores for the best performance.

    • How Many Cores Do I Need?

      The more complex your task, the more cores you will need. For most general users, two cores will be plenty. But for more intensive tasks such as gaming or photo editing, you will need a quad core processor to keep up and maintain smooth performance. Certain Intel processors come with Hyper Threading, which simulate virtual cores to allow for better multitasking.

    • Do I Need to Buy a Separate CPU Cooler?

      Most retail processors will come with a stock CPU cooler that is more than adequate to cool the processor. The main reasons to upgrade from a stock CPU cooler include lower temperatures, lower noise levels, and even just something that looks better. The best bang for your buck is a new tower style CPU cooler with heatpipes, while the absolute best cooling performance usually comes from liquid cooled solutions. Aftermarket CPU coolers often come with larger fans which have higher airflow, higher static pressure, and lower noise levels. Finally, some high end processors do not have a CPU cooler included as power users tend to upgrade these anyways.

    Lowest prices on all types of AMD and Intel processors! We carry just the best deals on all the latest Skylake, Haswell, and AMD FX/A Series. The best way to start a new build or upgrade is to get a great deal on the processor - and that's exactly what you'll find here. The CPUs (also known as the Central Processing Unit) is the main computational component in any computer. The computer processor determines the power, speed, & architecture of the PC. Two manufacturers control the majority of the processor market - AMD and Intel. There are advantages and disadvantages between going with one company vs the other in terms of price and performance. In general, both brands have models aimed at every budget so the choice is largely yours. Choosing your processor first is a great starting point for building your PC as doing so will determine your socket and many other considerations. We carry high end, gaming, mid-grade performance, and budget chips to satisfy any budget so feel free to browse or contact us to get you started.

    FAQ & Section Info

    What is a CPU?

    A CPU, or central processing unit, is the main microprocessors or "Brain" of a computer. This is one of the primary determining factors of how fast a computer can operate. Other features of current CPUs are Hyper-Threading for additional virtual cores, AES, virtualization techniques or instruction set extensions like SSE and AVX.

    How do I know which is the best CPU or Processor for me?

    Choosing the right processor for your system can be simplified by asking what you want or need from your system. How much you spend or how cheap you want to go is a matter of what type of speed and performance you'll want to see out of your cpu. As with any other computer part - look for a sale and you could get a bit of a discount over regular prices.

    AMD processors give you several choices: Ryzen, Sempron, Phenom Athlon, FX, and A-series Processors. Among these are what AMD calls their APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), which are chips that include integrated Radeon graphics processors. This is a very inexpensive way of getting a high end processor and video card solution all in one - super affordable without having to buy the two parts separately. AMD specializes in creating low-cost, multi-core processors for gaming and performance level systems, but they also have entry-level and mid-range processors that are great for those looking to build an HTPC or workstation on a smaller budget.

    Intel is widely considered to be the industry standard when it comes to computer processing technologies. From the blistering speed of the Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 CPUs, to the high performance of the budget-minded Pentium and Celeron processors, there is an Intel CPU solution for practically any build. Starting with the 4th Generation Intel Core I Processors, Intel integrated Iris Graphics processors into their CPUs to deliver rendering results on par with many current discrete GPUs. Intel HD graphics also provides higher 3D and 2D rendering performance, and is integrated into many Core I, Pentium and Celeron CPUs.

    What are some things to keep in mind when purchasing a Processor?

    There are a few important details to keep in mind when purchasing a CPU. The two most obvious are number of cores and clock speed, but equally important to installing it into your motherboard and having it work with your hardware are the socket type, instruction set, and whether or not it has integrated graphics processing, which may or may not create the need for purchasing more hardware than is really necessary.

    For number of cores and core clock speed(expressed in hertz; Ghz, expressly), the number of cores is a bit more important. Intel and AMD both have many processors that feature anywhere from two to eight cores, but along with the number of cores, the core clock speed is a reasonable tell of the performance of the processor. There are many more factors, though minimal comparatively, that we can't go into now that also affect performance, but these are the two most basic features to pay attention to. Also note that the more current the processor, the better the performance as well, in general.

    The other details that don't necessarily have as much to do with performance as they do functionality, are the socket type, of which each processor is strictly compatible with only one, instruction set, whether 32-bit or 64-bit, and integrated graphics.

    There are several socket types for both Intel and AMD processors, and each socket type is compatible with differing types of processors.
    Intel uses the following sockets: LGA 1151, LGA 1150, LGA 1155, LGA 2011, LGA 2011-v3, and LGA2066.
    AMD's sockets are as follows: AM2/AM2+, AM3/AM3+, FM1/FM1+, FM2/FM2+, and TR4. AMD also has what they call their AM1 platform, but is often referred to as Socket AM1 as well.

    Whether a CPU is 32-bit or 64-bit will determine certain software capabilities and other specific functions, but possibly the largest difference it makes is it's memory support. Simply put, a 32-bit processor is capped at 4GB RAM, and a 64-bit processor is practically able to support as much as the motherboard will possibly allow. There are a lot more factors involved, but theoretically (READ: only theoretically) a x86 64-bit processor should be able to handle somwhere around 16.8 million terabytes of RAM. That said, for a standard consumer level PC, you can easily get by with 4GB of RAM.

    Integrataed GPUs provide processors extra cores specifically used to render 2D and 3D graphics, leaving more basic processes to the standard CPU cores, thus improving overall performance and removing the requirement for purchasing a discrete graphics card. With Intel's Iris, Iris Pro, or HD Graphics, or with AMD's integrated Radeon Graphics, you'll get levels of performance ranging from HD video, up to entry and even mid-range gaming levels.

    What are processor cores?

    Processors were originally all single-core devices. But over time it became apparent that a good way to boost performance was to integrate multiples of these processors into the same unit so all the standard CPUs these days are multi-core (such as dual-core which has two cores, quad-core which has 4, etc.) Currently most budget or beginning-level CPUs are in the dual-core class while most performance and gamer level processors start at four cores and go up from there. While six and eight core CPUs are fairly common these days, it's logical to see that in future generations processors will naturally integrate even more cores onto the same CPU as this is a great way to boost the performance of software designed to utilize it.

    What is the processor clock rate?

    The processor clock rate or speed is the frequency that each core operates at. For example, if you have a Quad Core 2.6GHz CPU, that means you have 4 cores that operate at 2.6GHz each. Processor clock rates are generally measured in MHz and this is an important measurement that makes comparing different CPUs easier. Clock rates range generally from 1GHz to 5GHz currently and we can expect this range to expand in the future as technology improves and processors become more efficient.

    Should I buy a 32-bit or 64-bit Processor?

    The current standard for processors are 64-bit. The reason for this is that 64-bit operating systems have become the norm. It's important to stick to 64-bit unless you have a compelling reason to use 32-bit (the main reason being if you have certain software or applications that only work on 32-bit). One of the main reasons for this is 32-bit CPUs can only address memory up to nearly 4GB. In order to use more memory you will need a 64-bit processor and a 64-bit operating system.

    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 Processor

    Upgrading 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.

    Detail Glossary


    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.


    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.

    • Users who push their systems with high-end games, high-resolution image editing, or similar pursuits will get the most from quad-core, hex core, or higher processors with high clock-rates.
    • Work oriented systems used for web browsing and basic office programs like Word or Excel will usually run well on a cheap dual core.
    • Those interested in building an energy efficient or extra-quiet PC will want to keep to moderate clock speeds, (3.0GHz or less) and dual-core or single core processors
    • Everyday users without specifically focused wants or needs will likely be comfortable with a 2.8 to 3.2GHz, dual-core, processor

    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 A Series
    AMD Sempron


    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 desktop

    The 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.