What Is It
A central processing unit (CPU for short) is one of the main components of any PC (computer brains), which performs various logical and arithmetic operations, the so-called computations, and controls the operation of other PC components. CPU microchips are manufactured as a rectangular silicon wafer-plate, encased in a plastic or ceramic package with an array of metallic pins underneath. Today, such devices as CPUs are installed in almost every electronic equipment unit, ranging from TVs, panels, smartphones to various children toys. This review concerns the high-performance CPU models, of which you can choose the best option based on the tasks you are planning to perform on your computer.
Since the CPU is only the one of PC components, we recommend you to choose one of the best Motherboards. And don't miss out on graphics - look through our review of the best Graphics Cards.
What Features to Compare
The first thing you should pay attention to when selecting a CPU computer processor is its Performance. To a great extent, this aspect will depend on the number of CPU processor cores and the clock rate (frequency) of each core. CPU processor’s clock speed (measured in MHz or GHz) represents the number of cycles (and thus, the number of instructions), which the CPU core is capable of repeating in 1 second. The more cycles per second the core performs and the more cores there are in a CPU processor, the higher the processor performance is. Modern CPU processors have from 2 to 8 cores with a clock frequency of at least 2 GHz. To further accelerate the data processing by a CPU processor, there is a so-called cache memory embedded in the CPU chip. Similar to RAM, the cache stores and processes the data, but does it much quicker and in a more effective way. The cache memory has a much smaller size than the RAM and has a hierarchy or levels (from 1st to 4th). As a rule, high-performance CPU processors are equipped with three levels of cache memory, which increases the cost of such processors, but also considerably improves their performance. Therefore, if you are choosing a PC for performing simple working tasks, it is worth considering the dual-core CPU processors with a clock frequency around 2-3 GHz. If you plan to use your PC, for example, for processing and editing photos, taken with a high-resolution digital camera, or for playing modern dynamic games, then you should consider the 4-core model with a clock rate of 3.5 GHz and higher.
The Energy Efficiency is also an important feature to consider when choosing a CPU processor. The main parameter, which impacts the energy efficiency is the fabrication process used for manufacturing the processor. This parameter indicates the scale or the size of the smallest functional elements (transistors) of the processor measured in nanometers (nm). The smaller this value, the smaller the amount of energy dissipated and consumed by the CPU in comparison with an analogous CPU manufactured using a rougher fabrication process. The power consumption and heat dissipation of a CPU processor are determined by the Thermal Design Power (TDP) value (Watt), which enables you to estimate the heating rate of a CPU processor during the operation and pick the necessary cooling system. The TDP of the current CPU models ranges from 25 to 200 W, but the optimal TDP is in the range of 45-95 W. Consumer CPU processors are available in 2 versions: Tray (includes only the processor) and Box (includes the processor and the cooling system). The supply package version of a CPU computer processor is to be selected based on its intended use. In other words, if you plan to use the CPU for performing some intensive tasks or for overclocking, you should buy the Tray CPU version as the Box bundled cooling system is not designed for a long-term cooling of the CPU under high loads and you’ll need to purchase an advanced cooling system separately.
All the CPU processors are installed on a motherboard, so CPU Compatibility is very important. The physical interface for connecting a CPU processor to a motherboard is called the Socket. In view of this, you should remember that if you choose a CPU with a modern LGA 1151 socket, you need to select a motherboard with the same socket. Otherwise, your computer won't work! Don't forget to check the socket compatibility if you wish to upgrade your CPU processor to a newer model. Another thing you should be aware of is the type of RAM supported by the CPU, as the support of modern and faster memory type helps fully realize the full potential of a CPU. Modern computer CPU processors offer the support of the DDR3 memory with the maximum operating frequency of 3200 MHz as well as the support of more recent DDR4 memory with the maximum frequency of 2133 MHz.
Finally, after considering the main features of a CPU processor, pay attention to the implemented Proprietary Technologies. To achieve the maximum clock frequency and performance of a CPU processor, some units have Turbo Boost and Turbo Core technologies (automatic CPU clock frequency adjustment). However, in addition to the standard clock frequency increase means, the CPU processors allow overclocking their cores manually. Considering that, one should choose a CPU processor model with an unlocked multiplier, which gives the benefit of wider overclocking abilities. The availability of the unlocked multiplier will be useful for those users who want to take the most out of their CPU processors. The support of Hyper-Threading or similar technologies makes it possible to use the CPU hardware resources in a more efficient way, enabling one CPU core to handle two data streams at a time. When choosing a PC for simple tasks, you may consider the CPU models with integrated graphic cards, which allow working with documents, watching videos, and browsing the Internet without buying a discrete graphics card.