Do you really need a fast processor?

AMD Sempron for Desktop

AMD Sempron for Desktop

FYI: my AMD Sempron processor runs at 800 Mhz for most of the time. Read on…

Most of the time people are asking me if it is worth investing for a quad core processor than a dual core. And as always I reply with another question: Do you really need a fast processor?

If you are a hardcore gamer chances are you do need a fast processor. Basically a dual core will do but as computer games become very visually intensive, a very fast and simultaneous computation is needed to render all that stuff. Also, multicore processors have optimizations that can handle outburst of data when communicating with the graphics processing unit (GPU), memory controller, sound device, etc. Indeed a real gaming experience needs a fast multicore processor – somewhere above 3 Ghz, with at least 1MB L2 cache.

But what if you are just a Facebook addict who loves to watch Youtube all day and then Tweet all night? Or you are a researcher who creates write-ups and reviews using your word processor? These examples fall under the category of Home users that do not need a furious processor.

Even occasional gamers who only plays Feeding Frenzy or some Flash games are not required to have a very fast processor. Intel Atom which clocks at an average of 1.6 Ghz are common in netbooks and laptops that are generally used by home users. Very seldom that a hardcore gamer will play in a laptop unless it has a multicore processor and at least 2 GB RAM. Laptops with an AMD Turion or Intel Core2Duo and above are common choices for gamers.

I personally have a desktop computer with AMD Sempron 140 which clocks at 2.7 Ghz. But for most of the time my AMD Sempron only runs at speeds of 800 Mhz even when MS Word, Firefox, Adobe Reader, Windows Media Player (Playing), Notepad, Yahoo Messenger, and Avira Antivirus are running simultaneously. My MSI motherboard works intelligently with AMD Sempron that they slow down whenever the computer is not doing intensive work. This prevents heat production and protects the health of my processor in the long run. You can view my hardware specs here:

Simultaneous Windows Programs Running at 800 Mhz Only

Simultaneous Windows Programs Running at 800 Mhz Only

I believe that instead of investing in a multicore processor it is much better to buy more high speed RAM and have a fast GPU. My desktop computer has 2 GB DDR2 RAM with frequency of 800 Mhz. This is fast enough combined with my integrated ATI Radeon 3100 which is set to have 256 MB shared memory. My screen is very responsive because of my GPU and this setup is more than enough for a home user.

Now if you will ask me what processor you should have, follow this pathway:

  1. Buy at least 2 GB RAM with at least 800 Mhz frequency.
  2. Choose a GPU with at least 256 MB. Gamers may consider at least 512 MB GPU memory with a faster clock frequency.
  3. If you are a gamer then invest in multicore processor
  4. Else if you are a home user then invest in single core processor.
  5. Else if you are a business/office user then assess your needs further.

Businesses have different requirements. Some are doing simple activities just like a home user but some are doing very intensive graphics processing just like in the case of hard core gamers.

And finally as a biased recommendation, I suggest you buy AMD processors. Contrary to the popular belief, AMD processors are now cooler than ever. I once have an Intel Celeron D processor but it was very unstable especially when it heats up. The fan is also very noisy unless you enable the Thermal Monitor feature of the motherboard. Now that I have a Sempron I was surprised that it is very stable and able to cope with heat production. As a proof, I ran my PC for about 10 hours non-stop then afterwards I immediately touched the heatsink. It was warm but not blazingly hot. Previously that was impossible with my Celeron D processor because abruptly touching the heatsink can give you a second degree burn.

Well that’s all for now, I hope my experience gave you more insights about choosing your next processor.

21 thoughts on “Do you really need a fast processor?

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