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Home > Computer Buyer's Guide > Computer Processor

Compare Computer Processors

Intel Pentium 4 Computer ProcessorThe CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the central component of the computer. There are many different types of CPU's that operate at various speeds, usually displayed in GHz (GigaHertz).

The CPU is a small chip inside your computer that plays a very large part in determining how fast your computer will perform.

The two major manufacturers of processor chips are Intel and AMD. Current CPU speeds currently range from 1.6 GHz to 3.0 GHz on new computers.

Recommendations: 2.0 GHz or higher; even in Cheap Computers you will want at least an Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon.

Intel Computer Processors

IntelCurrently, Intel processors are the more prevalent CPU used in most new computers. The current main CPUs offered by Intel are:

  • Celeron - A good processor to choose when you just need a computer for its simple functions, such as games for you kids, home finances, e-mail and basic word processing. Celeron processors are currently available at speeds up to 2.4 GHz.
  • Pentium 4 - Designed more for business workstations, the Pentium 4 is currently being produced with speeds ranging from 2.4 to 3.0 GHz. Software will perform much faster on a Pentium 4 than on the cheaper Celeron.
  • Xeon - The newest Intel processor, with speeds up to 3.0 Ghz, the Xeon is a step up in power from the Pentium 4 chip. You could easily run a small business from a computer that has a Xeon processor as its CPU.

As with other electronic equipment, you shouldn't bother paying for more power than you need. For most home users, a Celeron processor is fine, but if you still need a little more power, then a Pentium 4 will be more than sufficient for most tasks.

AMD Computer Processors

AMDThe processors offered by AMD are significantly less expensive than Intel processors, yet they are able to provide a very comparable level of speed and performance. The main downsides for AMD chips are that they can overheat more easily and they have noisy cooling fans. The current main CPUs offered by AMD are:

  • Duron - The AMD Duron is an older, inexpensive processor that competes with the Intel Celeron, and like its competitor, it is good for a basic home computer when you don't want to spend a lot of money.
  • Athlon - This is AMD's main processor that is relatively equivalent to the Pentium. The AthlonXP is the newer version that was built to get more performance out of computers using Windows XP as their operating system.

We can't truly recommend either Intel or Athlon as the better processor. The differences between them are very great on a more technical level, with each new chip that either company puts out changing the entire playing field once again. AMD chips have historically cost a little less than Intel, and most Cheap Computers will have either an AMD chip or a low-end Intel chip.

If you need specific recommendation on particular versions of the Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon chips, check Tom's Hardware Guide for the most reliable, up-to-date reviews.

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