The processor is a key component of any computer, no matter if it’s a notebook or desktop. Why is the CPU so crucial? It is responsible for all generic operations. It is the processor that determines what type of computer you use.
Before I list the top processors available today, I want to explain how to choose a processor.
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When buying a new processor, the first question that everyone asks is “AMD or Intel?” There is no definitive answer, for better or worse. It all depends. In the past, Intel was the fastest, but also the most expensive, PC processors. AMD, however, offered better balanced, more affordable solutions.
The Ryzen architecture by AMD has allowed both manufacturers to create great products. Both AMD and Intel offer great processors, with both offering solutions that deliver performance based on the price.
There are several Intel processor families. The Pentium and Celeron families are the most affordable and least-efficient. These are entry-level products that are ideal for basic multimedia and light productivity tasks.
There is also the Core family. It is split into four main series that are different in terms of performance and capacity.
- Core i3This is Intel’s lowest-end processor family, which has poor performance.
- Core i5This processor is ideal for almost all tasks. These processors are some of the most sought-after on the market. These processors are great for gaming (using a dedicated card) or heavy-duty productivity (video editing).
- Core i7This is the highest-end processor that Intel has ever produced. They can handle any type of task and have many cores.
- Core i9This is the latest series and includes premium models. These processors were created for enthusiasts who demand the best performance.
Exemple:The Intel Core i9-9900K processor. The first digit indicates the generation of the processor. In this instance, it is the ninth. The other three digits indicate SKU (Stock Keeping Unit). The last letter is the type of CPU. K means overclockable and U indicates processors that consume less power.
The naming of AMD processors is a matter of preference. In this instance, there are three main families. A and Athlon series represent entry-level low-end solutions.
Ryzen is the most fascinating family and one that most people will be familiar with. This article will show you how to identify the different models in this family.
- Ryzen 3These are entry-level processors. However, they perform better and are more efficient than the A-series or Athlon.
- Ryzen 5These are Intel’s Core i5 equivalents so they offer the most bang for your buck.
- Ryzen 7This family includes AMD’s high performance and high-end processors. They are comparable to the Core i7 family.
- Ryzen 9This is AMD’s “enthusiast family”, directly comparable to Intel’s Core i9 series.
Ryzen Threadripper processors are also available. However, they are designed to handle very heavy tasks (handling databases or servers) or heavy-duty multimedia processing.
Exemple:The AMD Ryzen 5 3600X processor. The Ryzen 5 processor’s “3” indicates the generation. The Ryzen 5 processor’s “6” indicates the performance. (The higher the number, the better). The SKU is the last two digits. The letters indicate different models. In our case, the “X” indicates a high-performance processor. A processor that incorporates a Graphics Processing Unit means that you don’t have to purchase a dedicated GPU.
Analyzing the technical characteristics of a processor will help you to determine its capabilities. Although it is a complex topic, with patience you can understand the key terms like clock frequency, L1 or L3 cache, core numbers, IPC, and L2 or L3 cache.
Each processor uses a set of pins to communicate with its motherboard socket. The socket is the same for all Intel processors, as well as AMD.
The two manufacturers do not use compatible sockets. If you have an Intel processor, you will need a motherboard that is compatible with it. If you have an AMD processor, you will need an AMD compatible motherboard.
Every motherboard has a chipset that offers different performance features. B360, B365 and H370 are the most popular Intel chipsets. Q370 is the best. Z390 is the best. The most popular AMD chipsets are B350, H370, B450 and X470. Again, the latter is the best.
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Frequency of the clock
Although the clock frequency is one parameter that determines the processor’s speed, it is not the only one. It is measured in gigahertz.
Two clock frequency values are common on processors: the basic and the boost or “turbo”. All processors have the ability to decrease the clock frequency during idle time, which can be used to reduce power consumption and lower operating temperatures.
Processor Cores and Threads
Multi-core processors can increase performance by up to n times, where n is the number of cores. This is especially true for applications that support multi-threading. Multicore processors can also be used for multitasking and parallel calculations (video processing, for instance). However, some applications don’t scale linearly so quad-core processors (four cores) are rarely able to achieve twice the performance of a dual-core model.
There are also threads which indicate the number of independent processes each core can perform at any given time. Common processors can only perform one task with each core. However, more powerful processors can do at least two tasks using multi-threading technology.
This technology is called Hyper-Threading by Intel, while AMD calls it Simultaneous Multiplethreading (SMT). Although multi-threading is effective in certain applications, its benefits are not as great as those achieved by multiple physical cores.
TDP stands to Thermal Design Profile/Power. It is the maximum heat a chip can generate in Watts. This value can be used to determine the CPU’s usage and for selecting the right cooling solution.
The cache is the processor’s internal memory. There are three types of caches: L1 cache which is the slowest but also the most efficient; L2 cache which is larger but slower; and L3 cache which is much bigger but slower. Comparable to the RAM on a PC, the cache performs at lightning speed.
IPC stands for Instructions per Clock Cycle. It indicates the overall performance of a CPU in certain conditions. It is difficult to assess the actual performance of a processor even if you know its clock frequency and number of cores. The architecture of each CPU plays an important role. Intel and AMD have different architectures so it is difficult to compare them by simply looking at their respective specs sheets.
Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t declare an IPC value so we can only measure it using benchmarks.
Many processors have a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). Built-in GPUs can be used for video playback at 4K resolution, but they are not very good with Best Processor for Gaming Black Friday Deals 2021.