The Dos and Donts of Buying CPUs/Processors

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The Do's and Don'ts of Buying CPUs/Processors

Building a computer can seem tricky. There are so many small components that make up the motherboard, and not everyone is a natural when it comes to information technology. One of the small pieces on the motherboard is the central processing unit (CPU), also known as the computer processor, and it is also the most important chip on the motherboard and in the entire computer. The CPU is known as the brain of the computer, and it is what drives every function and process. Since this tiny chip is so essential, buying the right processor is an important step.

Processors can be purchased in brick and mortar computer stores as well as online through websites like eBay. CPUs are fairly expensive purchases, so knowing the do's and don'ts of buying computer processors is necessary for those who want to buy the right processors the first time around. After learning what to do and what not to do, shoppers can jump into building a new motherboard.

What Is a CPU?

A CPU or computer processor is a chip inside the computer that is responsible for the computer's performance. The CPU is the key component that makes the computer start and shut down, open applications like an Internet browser or Microsoft Office, efficiently use battery power, and much more. Because the CPU is the most important component found inside the computer, it is also one of the most expensive. While CPUs were once rated in performance by their speed, technological advances have now improved the performance of computer processors in various aspects of the chip, from adding multiple cores to hyper-threading, which allows for two processes to efficiently run simultaneously.

There are four aspects of CPUs that should be considered before purchasing: speed, number of cores, brand, and cache. The CPU speed is labelled in gigahertz (GHz). Generally, the faster the speed, the better the performance one can expect from the CPU. However, performance of the processor is no longer confined to only speed. CPUs offer various numbers of cores, ranging from a dual-core processor to six cores. Brand is also important, as an Intel processor cannot work with an AMD motherboard and vice versa. The processor industry is highly competitive, so the various brands typically have excellent quality products. Choosing a brand, however, must apply to the various parts for compatibility when building the computer's motherboard. Lastly, the cache of the CPU is important, as this is what allows for a faster reaction time when the processor is retrieving data. The larger the cache, the better the performance of the CPU.

The Do's of Buying CPUs/Processors

There are a lot of factors that go into buying a CPU, like how much one can afford to spend on a processor or picking a dual-core processor over a six-core processor. The various do's of buying CPUs helps shoppers know what recommended actions they should take to find the right processors for the job.

Do Determine a Budget

Processors can be fairly expensive, so setting a pre-determined budget before shopping for a CPU helps shoppers save money on features or speed capabilities that they may not need for the computer they want to build. While the price of a processor, for the most part, varies by the speed of the chip, most CPUs offer the same features, regardless of price. For individuals who need a strong processor to load videos or handle large data transfers, more expensive processors may be a higher priority than for those who are building a computer for basic Internet browsing.

Do Pick a Brand

The brands are incredibly competitive in the chip-making industry, so the quality among the various companies is about equal. The importance of picking a brand is ultimately for ensuring compatibility between the CPU and the motherboard. For the most part, CPUs of one brand do not fit on a motherboard designed for another brand. The same goes for choosing the motherboard socket to attach the chip to the silicon board. Some brands may offer cost leadership for the shopper that values affordability when building or upgrading the computer, although the lead may not be by much, while other brands offer superior speeds. Picking a brand should not be a difficult decision to make, but it is necessary for building a compatible system.

Do Count the Cores

CPUs offer multiple cores and range between two, known as dual-core, to six processing cores. These cores are meant to be time savers that simultaneously process information and, therefore, offer faster processing speeds. Higher core counts are ideal for the shopper that intends to do a lot of photo and video editing on the built or upgraded computer. For a basic functioning computer, dual-core processors are generally sufficient. Single-core processors are still available on the market, although the cost variance between single- and dual-core processors is so little that shoppers should just purchase dual-core processors if they are looking for the bare minimum.

Price-to-Core Ratio of CPUs

Generally, the more cores that are in a computer processor, the more expensive the product. A higher numbers of cores is suggested for those who need the extra power in the CPU, such as photographers, computer programmers, or gamers.

Number of Cores

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Following the do's of buying CPUs enables shoppers to have a more satisfying experience when looking for the right processor for the job. Not all CPUs are the same, and the technical language can be confusing, but knowing these basics about processors makes shopping for CPUs a more manageable experience.

The Don'ts of Buying CPUs/Processors

Besides the basic do's of buying CPUs, there are also several things that shoppers should not do when purchasing processors to build or upgrade their computers. The majority of shopping problems come from honest mistakes that individuals make because they simply do not understand the basics. Learning what not to do when buying CPUs prevents shoppers from making rookie mistakes.

Don't Pick by Clock Speed

In the times before multi-core processors existed, the quality of a CPU depended on the clock speed, or the operating frequency. This can be recognised by shoppers as the speed of the chip, offered in gigahertz (GHz). Clock speed is still important, but the overall performance of a chip is best determined by the number of cores offered by the CPU. Because speed is the ultimate priority of a CPU's performance, the clock speed should be considered after the number of cores when buying a computer processor.

Don't Forget the Heat Sink

One of the most overlooked factors when buying CPUs is the presence of a heat sink. The purpose of the heat sink is to prevent the processor from overheating while working. By keeping the chip cool, the CPU can efficiently run without crashing. If the heat sink on the CPU is missing or going bad, the computer can experience all sorts of problems. Should the heat sink be purchased separately from the CPU, shoppers should verify that the processor and the heat sink are compatible.

Knowing what to do may seem simple enough, but knowing what not to do is truly helpful advice, as well, since it prevents shoppers from making any big mistakes that could cost a lot of money to fix. Avoiding such mistakes is a possibility as long as the shopper does not forget to follow these ground rules to buy the right CPU.

Buying CPUs/Processors on eBay

Buying the right CPU for one's computer should not have to be hard. That's why eBay offers its users an incredible database with intuitive search tools. Shoppers can insert keywords like 'dual-core processor' or 'Intel heat sink' into the search box that is found on every page on eBay. Shoppers can also filter these results by specifying a price range, preferred brands, processor models, or more. eBay makes the shopping experience simple so shoppers can focus on the complexities of building a motherboard from scratch.

When purchasing processors, which are the most important components when building computers, shoppers should thoroughly research the reputations of the various sellers. eBay allows users to look at feedback left by previous customers about the overall shopping experience and any problems they may have had with the seller. By reviewing feedback, users can feel more confident about the quality of the products they purchase.


The most crucial component one needs for building or upgrading a computer is the central processing unit (CPU), known as the computer processor. This tiny chip is primarily responsible for all the tasks that a computer performs, from turning on to processing videos or running a program or Internet browser. There are a lot of features that various CPUs have, but one of the most important aspects of a CPU is its speed. The speed of a CPU is affected by different features, such as the number of cores and the clock speed.

There are various aspects that should be considered when shopping for the right CPU for one's computer. Above all, there are a few do's and don'ts that every individual should remember when buying computer processors. The most important rules to follow are to establish a budget, pick a brand, and look at the number of cores in the CPU. To avoid making any mistakes, shoppers should not buy a CPU solely for its clock speed, nor should they overlook the presence or compatibility of the heat sink for the chip. All these products and more can be purchased online at eBay or in various local computer stores.

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