How to choose a Processor

Guide to cpu title

A CPU is central to the running of your machine, so much so it has ‘central’ in its name. The Central Processing Unit does a multitude of functions within a computer which it ‘sees’ as a much simpler set of logarithmic functions. To the user, this translates to how quick something is to load and react to your input and as such investing in a quality processor is a priority.

So this guide aims to step you through the process of buying a processor (pardon the pun) and getting you through the jargon, tech phrases and threading to make sure you buy the best processor for you.

But first, we start with some ol’ fashioned learning:guide to cpu paragraph

What makes a good processor?

This is a relatively simple answer made difficult to find thanks to the miracle of capitalist marketing. In reality, you are looking at only a few things:

  • Size of cache
  • Number of cores
  • Price
  • Socket type

What helps with this process is the wealth of information on the internet, sites like are designed to show you all the technical jargon of a processor as a simple number, which saves me from writing long and lengthy explanations of everything.

So by now you’re looking at the list seeing how much you can get for your budget. However, before you run off and get a Xeon processor, consider this:

What other parts am I considering getting?AMD vs Intel logo

A processor cannot be bought in a vacuum. You have to consider what other parts you are thinking of buying.

Firstly, you need to consider the socket your motherboard has. You do not want to buy a processor which is not compatible with your board. Below is a quick summary of which processor is compatible with which motherboard socket (credit to enzo matrix on Tom’s hardware for the summary):

Athlon 64: AM2, AM2+
Phenom (includes Athlon): AM2, AM2+
Phenom II (includes Athlon II): AM2, AM2+ AM3

Core 2: socket 775
Core i3/ i5/ i7 (8xx models only): 1156
Core i7 (7xx models only): 1366


Secondly, consider how much power your hardware has. Buying a £300 CPU is useless when you only have 2GB of RAM and no graphics card; and buying a £50 processor is a waste when you have 32GB of RAM and a GTX 1080. Your processor should reflect the over level of power of your build.

So in summary, consider the following when you look for a processor:

  1. What socket does my motherboard have? What does that limit me to?
  2. How powerful is the rest of my rig? Will I be utilising all the power and not wasting any power?
  3. Does my processor fit my budget? Is there a better processor for the budget?

See? Pretty simple

So what should I get then?

At this point, you may just be getting a bit sick of all the considerations you need and may just want some simple recommendations. So to finish off, here are some recommendations for Intel and AMD.


AMD do several bang-for-buck processors for those on a budget. Currently, is selling an FX-6300 with a free 120GB SSD for £85.00 which is a steal for any budget gaming build. Higher-end gaming should look at an FX-8350 for less than £150 and is commonly touted as the recommended specification for most high-end games. For the top end AMD processor at commercial levels, the FX-9590 is as hefty as you can get for £220. All these processors use the AM3+ socket on a motherboard.


For simple gaming such as LOL consider the old but still viable Intel Pentium G3258, a solid and cost effective dual core. Intel is far better though at higher end hardware, with the I3, I5 and I7 range holding the top of the commercial range costing £100 to £1000 depending on power. Scouring second-hand sites you can pick up an Intel Xeon, which can be great bang-for buck for old hardware.


View Processors at by clicking here for AMD and here for Intel 


This article is Guest Post by Thomas Lashbrook, author at Invision Communitywhat is a graphics card title

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