Knowing how the components of your computer can change your performance is key. You want to get all the power out of your machine that you can in order to have the best possible experience for your type of computing. Simply reading the big words and fancy numbers on the box that your computer came in won’t do anything for you if you don’t understand what they mean. If you know your stuff, you’ll be able to easily fix problems that you run into and even upgrade your computer and tailor is to your own needs. Here is a brief introduction to some of the things you’ll need to look at.
If you are buying a computer and actively looking to upgrade, you’ll need to pay attention to the socket because it directly affects how limited your upgrade options are. With Intel you can choose from these 3 sockets: the LGA2011, LGA1155, and the new LGA1150. The LGA1155 is the oldest and is getting phased out, so keep that in mind. The other two are good for at least a few more years. With AMD, the AM3+ is probably the best to go with at the moment and supports the most upgrade options. I would recommend AM3+, LGA2011, and LGA1150.
We have been trained to look at the core count and think that more is better. But the fact of the matter is that no matter how many cores you have, it doesn’t mean a thing unless you’re actually using all of them. To think that an eight core processor is better than a six core Intel core i7 is wrong. Things get complicated because Intel uses a technology called Hyper-Threading to push their CPU’s. In order to better figure out your needs, look at the workloads. Quad core is probably the best place to be for casual users who occasionally do some gaming and need a good amount of power, but if you are into more hard-core type computing then you should look into getting as many cores as you can. A good middle ground is a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading.
A lot of people think that clock speed doesn’t matter. And while it doesn’t matter so much when comparing Intel to AMD, it would be silly to dismiss this factor when looking at different chips from the same brand.
The amount of cache is used by salesmen to try and get you to spend your money. But do you even know what it means? The choices go from 8MB to less than 3MB. All of the chips are basically the same, but some chips that have slight problems are still sold with a lower rating. Some chips have the cache turned off completely or are removed to cut costs.
Does it matter? It will hardly ever affect your performance unless you’re dealing with media encoding or compression. But other than that, you shouldn’t worry about the difference in chips.