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Computer Processor Upgrades - High End Options for Computer Processor Upgrades

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If your computer is old and slow, it might be time to investigate computer processor upgrades. The computer processor, also known as the CPU or central processing unit, is the brain and engine of the computer. It is a piece of technology that is built from millions upon millions of circuits and transistors whose job it is to process data and execute instructions. Making computer processor upgrades is generally one of the more expensive upgrades that you can make, therefore, you should try to explore other upgrade options before considering making a processor upgrade. Often, upgrading the CPU requires you to change out the motherboard and the RAM since it is unlikely that the new CPU will fit your current motherboard. If, however, you do decide to upgrade your computer processor, the next question is which one should you select. There are dozens of processors on the market by Intel and AMD, each of which has a strange, esoteric name that seemingly defies logic. If you are having trouble deciphering all of the CPU names and features, here is a brief rundown of what you may encounter.

When considering processor upgrades to your computer, you need to know what is available so that you can make an informed decision and plan your budget. Both Intel and AMD offer high end CPUs that are aimed at the computer enthusiast and power user. Intel’s offerings in the high end CPU market include the Core i5 and the Core i7 chips, while AMD’s Phenom II X4 represents their most powerful processor.

Intel’s Core i7 and i5 lines are the flagship CPUs offered by the company for mainstream computers. They are the successors to Intel’s popular Core 2 quad line. Each chip features quad cores and clock speeds up to 3.2 GHz. Both the Core i7 and the Core i5 processors have 8MB of L3 cache and support DDR 3 RAM up to 1333 MHz. What differentiates the Core i7 from the i5 is that the i7 has hyperthreading enabled. Hyperthreading is a technology from Intel that allows multi-threading of data to take place, which means that more instructions can be run at the same time. In both chips, there are four physical CPU cores, the heart of the CPU. When hyperthreading is enabled on the i7, the computer operating system detects four physical cores but allows each of those to act as two more cores, meaning that while there are only four real cores on each chip, the operating system acts as if there are eight. Generally, performance is better when hyperthreading is enabled, although for many people, the difference will not be noticeable in everyday applications. Also, the software must support hyperthreading for it to be effective. The Core i5 can be bought for as low as $180, while the i7 begins at approximately $275. Intel also offers an Extreme Edition of its i7, which features more cache and faster clock speeds. The Extreme Edition i7 represents Intel’s most powerful desktop chip and retails for slightly over $1000.

AMD offers its Phenom II X4 chip as its answer to Intel’s i7. Like the i7 line, the X4 is a quad core CPU that is 64-bit compatible. The similarities end there. First of all, the x4 is clocked slightly higher than the i7. For example, Intel’s top of the line Extreme Edition i7 is clocked at 3.33 GHz while the X4 tops out at 3.4 GHz. The X4 has more l2 cache than the i7, but only a fraction of the L3 cache, both of which are measures of how much space is available to store information that the CPU is using or will use in the future to execute instructions. For those who are concerned about power consumption, the X4 draws slightly less power than the Intel i7. The X4, however, lacks the hyperthreading that is available on Intel’s i7, meaning that the operating system will only be able to use four cores instead of eight to process data. The final difference between the X4 and the i7 is the price. AMD has aggressively priced its Phenom II X4 chip, charging just under $300 for its top of the line model, a savings of over $700 when compared to the top of the line Core i7.

For those thinking about computer processor upgrades for their computer, the choice between the Intel Core i5 or i7 and the AMD Phenom II X4 comes down to a few factors. In general, benchmarking has shown that the i7 offers superior performance over the X4, but with the price difference being so high, users who do not need so much computer power should definitely give the X4 a look.

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