Ugh! I need help deciphering all those PC processor names and speeds
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) - 7/6/07 12:40 PM
I'm in the market for a new computer and there are too many to count in the market. I pretty much have the basic understanding of PC components, but what throws my mind for a spin are the processors available. There are names for the processors such as Athlon, Athlon 64 X2 dual-core, Intel Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, Celeron D, and the list goes on and on--ugh, enough for me to grow more gray hairs! There has to be some sort of simple explanation to all this madness, right? Can you help me out? I don't want anything too technical to digest, but I do want to know what I'm buying and how it will perform. Should I just look at the speed of the processor, like GHz, and not worry about the names, because I know a 2.4GHz processor is going to be faster than a 2GHz, or am I wrong? Please help me out with this confusing aspect of selecting a processor. Much appreciated.
--Submitted by Fredrica C.
Answer voted most helpful by our members
Choosing the right processor
Great question on processors. Let me try and help.
Within the same processor name, higher Ghz means better performance. BUT, as soon as you move to a differently named processor, all bets are off. So, a 2.4 Ghz Core Duo is faster than a 2.2Ghz Core Duo. But you have no idea how it compares to another processor (e.g. a 2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo or 2.0 Ghz Athlon x2) unless you look up the specs for all of them and that takes some real work.
So, we have to sort out the names. Anything branded "Celeron" from Intel means its their lowest end processor. So, whether its "Celeron", "Celeron D" or Celeron X", its Intel's lowest end stuff. And lowest end means worst performance and worst battery life.
Intel's best processor now has a "Core" Brand (e.g. its no longer "Pentium"). But to make life confusing there are a bunch of different "Core" names. "Core 2" is a generation ahead of "Core" and typically about 15% faster. So, if you want the best, you want "Core 2". Intel also uses either a "Solo" or "Duo" suffix with the Core brand to indicate the # of processor cores in each CPU. So, their best CPU is a "Core 2 Duo", and their lowest performance "Core" CPU is a "Core Solo". Easy huh?
AMD uses a different track. While Intel uses "Core", AMD uses "Athlon". And while Intel uses "Solo and Duo", AMD has decided to simply use "X2" to mean 2 processor cores in one chip. So that means an AMD Athlon X2 is AMD's best.
Now, finally you have to compare Intel's best (Core 2 Duo) with AMD's best (Athlon x2). And the benchmarks show that Intel's mobile processors are generally better than AMDs in terms of performance and battery life.
So in sum, I'd recommend Intel CPUs for a laptop. And then you should decide how much money you want to spend. For myself, I typically chose the best family of processor (not the highest Ghz) with the best price. So, I'd choose the lowest price system that meets your needs which uses any speed available for the Core 2 Duo processor.
See, wasn't that simple!
Submitted by KEITH KRESSIN
If you have additional advice for Fredrica, let's hear them! Click on the "Reply" link to post.Thanks!