This article is part of Newb Computer Build’s “How to: Build a Gaming PC” guides to choosing your PC hardware for your Gaming PC builds. When you decide to build a gaming PC, the very first thing you must decide on is which processor / CPU you are going to purchase. There are many factors that may be your deciding point when choosing a specific processor, but you should choose exactly which one you want before choosing other hardware parts like your motherboard. This is because in order to choose a motherboard you must know the socket type / brand of the processor you choose, and in order to purchase RAM you must know what your motherboard supports and so on.
I am going to go through what exactly a computer processor is, terms related to a computer processor, and then include a few steps / decisions you should go through when deciding on the specific processor for you.
What is a “Processor”:
The processor aka. CPU – The Central Processing Unit of a computer is essentially the’brain’ of your computer system. It will perform any logical tasks and deal with sorting information in a manner that is as efficient as possible. I could probably go on and on about the finite details and history of the computer processor, however here we are interested in how to choose the best Gaming Processor for your Gaming PC Build, so lets familiarize ourselves with the terms that you will want to know when you are shopping for a gaming PC processor.
Terms you Should Know (For a Gaming Processor):
CPU Socket Type: These will differ between Processor brands. Socket Types are simply the ‘shapes’ of your Processor, and how it will fit into the motherboard. You will want to know the CPU Socket Type so that you can buy a compatible motherboard. Some examples of CPU socket types are “Socket AM3” or “LGA 1155”.
Core(s): The number of cores pertains to the numbers of independent actual processors (each called a ‘core’) able to read and execute program instructions. Depending on the games you play some are able to utilize more cores, of which more cores would make sense. You may want to look at your games and see if they support “multi-core” support. If you are unsure check with the games website or ask through online forums. Most modern game, however will have multi-core support. Some examples include “dual-core processors”, “quad-core processors”, and “hexa-core processors”.
Operating Frequency: Is the internal frequency of a Processors core. Essentially the higher the frequency for a given processor the faster it is. Frequencies are measured in Hertz. Such as 1 Kilohertz (kHz) = 1000 Hertz, 1 Megahertz (MHz) = 1000000 Hertz or 1000 kHz, and Gigahertz (GHz = 1000000000 Hertz or 1000000 kHz or 1000 MHz. For Example: 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Desktop Processor
L1, L2, L3 Cache: Is used by the processor to reduce the average time it takes to access memory. When the processor needs to read / write to the main memory it will first check the cache for the data. These are different levels of “caches” that temporarily store data in between processes. This reduces the delay between what you want your Processor to do, and when it actually does it. When choosing a Processor for your Gaming PC keep the caches in mind, however do not focus too heavily on this aspect as the cores, and operating frequencies; although if it comes down to two similar Processors you may want the Processor with the larger cache.
Thermal Design Power: This factor may not be of the utmost impotance when choosing your Gaming PC processor, but the thermal design power dicatates how many watts of heat can be dissipated without exceeding the maximum junction temperature of the computer processor. This will typically be the most power the processor will draw when running most applications.
Cooling Device: When you purchase your processor it will most likely come with some sort of cooling device (a heat sink / fan) that will be able to dissipate the heat created when your processor is being used. This may be one factor you may want to ‘make sure’ of before you purchase your Processor, because you don’t want to be stuck piecing all of your hardware together and not realize your new processor did not come with one. If you find out that it does not come with one don’t fret! Simply search for a compatible CPU / Processor Cooler and buy that separately.
How to: Steps to Choosing Your Gaming PC Processor:
Step One: Budget?
The number one step when buy any sort of computer hardware is to set aside what your budget is. I know obvious right? But this will automatically exclude or include all the processors available for you to buy. Most hardware sites will have some sort of menu option to sort by price, so this will make finding that right Processor that much easier.
Step Two: What Games do you Want to Play?
You are building a Gaming PC to play games! So before you choose your CPU do some research. Write a list of the games you currently play, and what games you will want to play. Check the minimum system requirements, and if you want to play your games at higher settings research what kind of Processor will do the job. There are a few sites you could compare CPU benchmarks against the requirements of your games recommended requirements, or even System Requirements Lab that can determine whether you are able to run a certain game on your PC. Check the minimum / recommended requirements against the operating frequencies and cores of all of the available processors and use this to narrow down your choices further.
Step Three: Which Brand?
This is where choosing a Gaming Processor can get a little foggy, and just like any business allot of this can fall back to competition, but the two main guns in the desktop Computer Processor world right now are AMD and Intel. Base this decision on the first two factors, and on Processor reviews. Allot of reputable hardware retailers will have customer reviews for the more popular processor products so take a look at those, check out hardware forums – tell them what games you want to play and your budget (this can also reassure your decision). Here at Newb Computer Build there are usually some computer builds posted every month: so you could also compare and contract your decisions there as well as these builds are based on the most recent hardware, reviews and the current best decisions for your money.
Well that just about has it when choosing the best possible Gaming Processor for your Gaming PC Build. Whether you are building your first PC, or you have built many it is a good idea to refresh the current trends in computer hardware so that you can choose the best choices for you. After all…Gaming PC’s have the most individualized and unique choices when it comes to building a specific build, so you want to get the best of the best…for you!!!!!
Thanks for reading and if you have any suggestions on choosing the right Processor for your gaming build, questions, or input please leave a comment below! Or even like this article so that we can share the Gaming PC knowledge with everyone!
And now finally, if you are interested in in building a Gaming PC please check out Newb Computer Build’s Gaming PC Builds of the Month.
OR if you need help choosing more hardware for your gaming PC build check out How to: Build a Gaming PC