How to Choose the Right CPU: A Comprehensive Buying Guide

Your Guide to buying the best CPU


Whether you're building your own computer from scratch, upgrading an existing system, or simply replacing a malfunctioning part, selecting the right CPU (Central Processing Unit) is a crucial step. A CPU is the beating heart of your computer, and its performance will determine how quickly and efficiently it is able to run the tasks you need it to. This buying guide will help you understand the key features and specifications to consider when selecting a CPU for your needs, as well as offering advice on brands, pricing, and compatibility.

Key features

  1. Price - How much are you willing to spend? Different CPUs vary in price depending on their specs.
  2. Architecture - Different models use different architectures, so make sure you find a processor that is compatible with the motherboard you have.
  3. Cores - Consider the number of cores for your CPU. Generally speaking, the more cores, the better the performance.
  4. Clock Speed - The speed of the processor is important for performance. The higher the clock speed, the faster the processor.
  5. Integrated Graphics - Some processors come with an integrated graphics processor. This can be useful if you don’t want to purchase a dedicated graphics card.
  6. Power Consumption - Consider how much power the processor will draw when considering your budget. Higher performance processors draw more power.
  7. Cooling - A CPU generates a lot of heat. Make sure you get a processor that can be properly cooled with your current cooling system.
  8. Socket Type - Different processors use different socket types. Make sure the processor you buy is compatible with your motherboard.

See the most popular CPU on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Speed and Performance: CPUs provide fast and efficient performance, allowing for enhanced multitasking and rapid response times.
  • Compatibility: CPUs are compatible with a wide range of operating systems, motherboards, and other hardware components.
  • Power Efficiency: CPUs use significantly less power than other components, allowing for a more energy-efficient system.
  • Price: CPUs offer excellent value for money as they are relatively inexpensive compared to other components.
  • Upgradeability: CPUs are relatively easy to upgrade as new versions are released, allowing you to keep your system up-to-date.


  • Price - CPUs can be expensive and it is important to consider your budget when selecting a CPU.
  • Compatibility - CPUs must be compatible with your motherboard and other components in your system.
  • Heat Generation - Higher-end CPUs can generate more heat, requiring additional cooling solutions.
  • Clock Speed - The clock speed of the CPU will affect the performance of the system, so it's important to consider how many cores and what clock speed is needed for the desired performance.
  • Overclocking - Not all CPUs are designed to be overclocked and it is important to consider whether or not the CPU is suitable for overclocking.
  • Power Consumption - Higher-end CPUs will require more power, meaning an increased power bill and a more powerful power supply.
  • Upgradeability - Some CPUs are not upgradeable and it is important to consider whether or not a CPU can be upgraded in the future.
  • Support/Warranty - It is important to consider the warranty and support options when selecting a CPU.

Best alternatives

  1. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) - used for processing graphics-heavy tasks like gaming and video editing
  2. Central Processing Unit (CPU) - used for running programs and processes on a computer, often used in a multi-core configuration
  3. Solid State Drive (SSD) - a form of storage used to store data and programs on a computer, often faster than a hard drive
  4. Random Access Memory (RAM) - used to quickly store and retrieve data from the computer, allowing for faster performance
  5. Motherboard - the main circuit board in a computer, used to connect and control all the other components

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Motherboard - The motherboard is the physical platform on which the CPU is mounted and provides the necessary connections for other components such as RAM, storage and graphics cards.
  • Power Supply - A quality and compatible power supply is required to run the CPU and other components in the computer system.
  • CPU Cooler - A CPU cooler is required to keep the CPU running at its optimal temperature by dissipating heat generated by the processor.
  • RAM - Random Access Memory (RAM) provides the CPU with the necessary data and instructions to operate and is an essential component to consider when building a computer system.
  • Case/Chassis - A quality case/chassis provides the necessary protection for the components of the computer system.
  • Thermal Paste - Thermal paste is necessary to ensure a good heat transfer between the CPU and the CPU cooler.

Common questions

  1. What is a CPU?
    A CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the brain of the computer. It is the part of the computer that carries out the instructions of the program. It executes instructions, performs calculations, and manages the flow of information throughout the system.
  2. What type of CPU do I need?
    The type of CPU that you need depends on what you will be using your computer for. For basic tasks such as web browsing, word processing, and watching videos, an entry-level dual-core CPU should be sufficient. For more intensive tasks such as gaming or video editing, you will need a higher-end processor with more cores and higher clock speeds.
  3. What is a socket type?
    A socket type is the physical interface that connects the CPU to the motherboard. Different CPUs require different socket types.
  4. What is the difference between Intel and AMD CPUs?
    Intel and AMD are the two main manufacturers of CPUs. Generally, Intel CPUs tend to be more expensive but offer better performance, while AMD CPUs tend to be cheaper but offer lower performance.
  5. What are the different types of CPUs?
    There are several different types of CPUs, including desktop CPUs, notebook CPUs, server CPUs, and embedded CPUs. Each type of CPU has different features and capabilities, so it is important to choose the right one for your needs.


In November of 1980 IBM released the IBM 5150 PC, the first personal computer to feature the Intel 8088 microprocessor. In order to make the CPU faster, a special version of the processor was released, called the Turbo button. The unique feature of the Turbo button was that it could increase the clock speed of the processor by up to 10 times its original speeds. It was a great way of getting more out of the processor, but it had one particular drawback – when the Turbo button was enabled, the computer would run faster but the fan was louder! It was joked that the Turbo button would make the computer run “as fast as an IBM”, referring to how slow the computers were running at the time without the Turbo button. Sources:

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.