When buying a new tablet, laptop or PC you don’t have to be an expert to buy the right processor; you just need to know the basics.
And here they are:
Intel is clearly the most well-known brand but it is not alone. AMD develops very good chips but they are not as good at marketing themselves as Intel. To generalise it is fair to say Intel builds faster chips but you pay a hefty premium for the privilege. For everyday work and play you might get better value for money from AMD but there are far fewer tablet, laptop and PC models to choose from.
Not long ago we compared processors by speed (i.e. the faster, the better). These days that isn’t the case. Processors now have “cores” which are like mini processors that work in tandem with each other. For example two cores processing data at 2.5GHz is faster than one core processing at 3.3GHz.
More expensive processors are capable of boosting their speed when needed. For example the Intel Core i7-3960X chip usually runs at 3.3GHz but it can boost performance to 3.9GHz on demand. This increases your battery life by only running at full steam when you need it.If you are a professional 3D artist or a professional video editor then you will want at least four cores (“Quad core”).
If you are gaming, you will probably want more than two cores. If you don’t fit into either of these categories then one core should be fine for you.
You should always consider a minimum of 2.0GHz of performance per core because anything less than that will slow you down. Consider 2.5GHz if you are a gamer and 3.0GHz+ if you do video editing or graphics.
Intel – Intel’s line-up consists of Atom, Core-i3, Core-i5 and Core-i7 models. Atom is only good for very basic tablets that you might use for surfing the web and checking email.For business use Intel will try to convince you that Intel Core-i5 is the way to go for everyday use but the reality is that Intel Core-i3 processors are more than capable.Core-i5 is better suited to ultrabooks and business tablets because they will reduce your power draw.
Core-i7 models are reserved for gamers, video editors and designers.
AMD – The Sempron processor is ideal for surfing the net, emails, web browsing and basic word processing.
Athlon is designed for business use and handles most applications with ease. The Athlon X3 and X4 are for high-performance work applications and the Phenom range is built for gamers and designers. We particularly like the X3 model for its balance of performance and low power draw (ideal for Ultrabooks).