Guide to purchasing a processor or CPU, which one to buy and which features to look for depending on the use of the computer

CPU purchase One of the most important components of a computer it is without a shadow of a doubt the processor, also called CPU (i.e. Central Processing Unit).

When we buy a new PC it can be difficult to understand the value of the CPU, given that it is among the acronyms shown It’s really difficult to understand which model is superior to the other.

Per choose a new processor for your PC (or a new computer), we will take into account the technical characteristics, the year of release, the manufacturer and also the price.

READ ALSO -> How to change PC processor

1) Errors in choosing the CPU

There are tons of rumors and rumors about processors that confuse users when purchasing: a processor with a higher frequency or more cores does not mean it is superior to a more modern processor.

At the same time though the differences between clock speed and number of cores matter if we are talking about processors from the same manufacturer or released in the same year.

Comparing processors only by frequency speed was significant until 20 years ago, but not today since processors always show more or less the same characteristics. Once a certain speed and number of cores were reached, the limit could no longer be exceeded without significantly impacting energy consumption and heat release.

These limits will be overcome over time with new technologies (making transistors smaller and smaller), but for now computer processors and even more so mobile phone processors have common characteristics that cannot be overcome.

To learn more we can read our guide on what does “Core” CPU mean and what speed does a multi-core processor have.

2) Features and useful information about the processor

A good modern computer processor must have the following characteristics to be considered when purchasing:

  • clock speed and number of cores: these parameters count for measuring the performance of a CPU, but only if we are talking about processors of the same brand, which were released a year or two maximum apart. We must therefore check the release date of a CPU because, with the same cores and speed, the latest processor is always better. As a rule, let’s make sure that the processor has at least 4 cores and a minimum frequency of 2 GHz.
  • CPU manufacturer: like a camel buy a processor for a new PC just choose the new series and, as is known, there are two brands of PC processors: AMD and Intel. AMD processors have a very good quality/price ratio and are excellent for PCs to be used every day for any purpose, while Intel CPUs are considered the best for gaming configurations or for advanced multitasking, especially when it comes to computers high-end.
  • Overclock: we can immediately check if the chosen processor is overclockablei.e. whether you can increase CPU performance with a overclock facile in order to obtain more power (which often leads to instability and energy consumption). We can find easily overclockable models accompanied by the letter K or X (which indicates the possibility of overclocking them by unlocking the multiplier).
  • Cooling system: to cool the processor a heatsink with a fan is used, in some cases integrated (but there are many models that do not integrate the cooling system); if the CPU is very powerful, it is advisable to always buy a powerful heatsink.
  • Processor cache: a memory integrated into the CPU that makes the processor’s calculations faster. The cache can be of L1, L2 or L3 level (the basic levels) but now they can also present new cache and memory storage systems, available but as the transistors become smaller and smaller.
  • Integrated video card (APU): on some CPUs there is so much space left inside that it is also possible to find an integrated GPU, which will work in parallel with the processor components to generate images at a good speed. This type of processor (called APU) is typical of the manufacturer AMD but Intel has now also integrated an adequate video component into its processors intended for domestic use.
  • Socket: Intel and AMD CPUs are not only different in their construction, but also in the connection or socket to the computer’s motherboard. This means that if you have a PC with a certain type of motherboard, you may be forced to install a processor of one brand or another inside it. Also note that different generations of Intel processors have different sockets.

At the time of writing this article, AMD’s current desktop architecture is the Ryzen series (3, 5, 7 and 9) recognizable by serial number 7xxx (preferred for the transition to the new AM5 socket). The current Intel architecture is called Intel Core (i3, i5, i7 and i9) and is recognizable by serial number 14xxx (but the 13xxx series is also good, still modern enough for daily use using the same socket LGA 1700).

Once you have decided on the range and line of processors you intend to buy, it is worth checking a few other things before spending the money.

To delve deeper into these discussions, in another article we looked at the differences between Intel and AMD processors e which one to choose between Intel i3, i5, i7 and i9.

For further support, there are sites like CPUBoss to compare the performance of different processors and see which is better.

3) Upgrade an existing processor

If you want to buy a processor to update the one already present on the PC it is important to know what type of processor we already have and the supported socket (i.e. the contacts available to pass data on the motherboard).

On Windows we type “Device management” in the Start menu and in the following screen we expand the “processors” to find the name of the CPU. To get more information and also obtain the precise socket we can programs like CPU-Z to know, precisely, which processor we have, which motherboard and which socket we use.

Also take into account that an old motherboard may not support the latest generation processors: in these cases you will therefore have to buy a CPU that was not released too many years later than the motherboard or change motherboard together with CPU (the wisest choice).

For further information we can read our guide on best combinations Motherboard and processor (Intel or Ryzen).

4) Buying guide

To buy a processor you can look on Amazon where there really is no shortage of offers and where you can read the many comments to help us in your choice, without forgetting the guarantee offered by the e-commerce siteprobably the best for fixing configuration errors.

The ranking of the best-selling CPUs it is an excellent starting point, with very variable prices from 70 Euros to 350 and more.

The best Intel processors are listed below (with their prices):

  • Intel Core i3-13100 (€161): desktop processor with 4 cores (4 P-cores + 0 E-cores), 12 MB cache and frequency up to 4.5 GHz.
  • Intel Core i7-13700K (€428): desktop processor with 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores), 30 MB cache and frequency up to 5.4 GHz.
  • Intel Core i5-14600K (€384): desktop processor with 14 cores (6 P-cores + 8 E-cores), 24 MB cache and frequency up to 5.3 GHz.
  • Intel Core i7-14700KF (€469): desktop processor with 20 cores (8 P-cores + 12 E-cores), 33 MB cache and frequency up to 5.6 GHz.
  • Intel Core i9-14900KF (€661): desktop processor with 24 cores (8 P-cores + 16 E-cores), 36 MB cache and frequency up to 6 GHz.

If instead we want to focus on AMD, here are the best models:

  • AMD Ryzen 5 7600X (€250): desktop processor with 6 physical cores and 12 logical cores, 38 MB cache and frequency up to 4.7 GHz.
  • AMD Ryzen 7 7700X (€350): desktop processor with 8 physical cores and 16 logical cores, 40 MB cache and frequency up to 5.4 GHz.
  • AMD Ryzen 7 7800X3D (€416): desktop processor with 8 physical cores and 16 logical cores, 104 MB cache, integrated AMD RDNA 2 graphics chip and frequency up to 5 GHz.
  • AMD Ryzen 9 7900X (€425): desktop processor with 12 physical cores and 24 logical cores, 76 MB cache and frequency up to 4.7 GHz.
  • AMD Ryzen 9 7950X3D (€711): desktop processor with 16 physical cores and 32 logical cores, 144 MB cache, integrated AMD RDNA 2 graphics chip and frequency up to 5.7 GHz.

Do we also have to change the motherboard along with the CPU? Below we point out the best motherboard models capable of supporting the processors listed above.

  • ASUS TUF GAMING H770-PRO WIFI (€247): motherboard with support for the Intel H770 chipset, LGA 1700 socket, ATX form factor, DDR5 RAM memories and PCIe 5.0 slot.
  • ASUS ROG STRIX B760-F (€267): motherboard with support for the Intel B760-F chipset, LGA 1700 socket, ATX form factor, DDR5 RAM memories and PCIe 5.0 slot.
  • ASUS TUF GAMING B650-PLUS WIFI (€241): motherboard with support for the AMD B650 chipset, AM5 socket, ATX form factor, DDR5 RAM memories and PCIe 5.0 slot.
  • ASUS PRIME X670-P (€274): motherboard with support for the AMD X670 chipset, AM5 socket, ATX form factor, DDR5 RAM memories and PCIe 5.0 slot.
  • MSI MAG X670E TOMAHAWK WIFI (€320): motherboard with support for the AMD X670E chipset, AM5 socket, ATX form factor, DDR5 RAM memories and PCIe 5.0 slot.

By using the right motherboard we will have a clear idea of ​​what to buy together with the new processor.

Conclusions

Now that we know everything about PC processors, let’s see how to control this component based on the PC we intend to buy; if you have to buy a ready-made computer and there is no intention of making any particular customizations or upgrades.

If we need to assemble a PC for general use, AMD now offers a very high number of cores and frequenciessuitable for any program we intend to use.

If you want a gaming computer, we are aiming blindly at an Intel processor; even if the latest generation AMDs provide all the power necessary for games, we always recommend opting for Intel when assembling a PC intended for gaming; to learn more we can read our ai guides Best laptops for gaming and at best hardware components to make yourself the most powerful PC ever.

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