What Intel processor should I choose and what else?

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There are 8 things you should note if buying an Intel processor. If you are buying a Desktop PC, you need not be concerned with some of them.

1. PROCESSOR MODEL

- Celeron [ Cel ]- Cheapest but slow

- Pentium 4 [ P4 ] - Fast but affordable.

- Pentium D [PD] - These use the latest Dual Core Technology. What is Dual core then? A processor has a central Core where calculations and processing is done. Single core Processors such as P4 have 1 core. The PD has 2 cores in one processor. So, it is superb for multitasking. Unfortunately, it's slightly slower than the P4 for gaming as Games are still designed based on Single core processors. e.g. With the PD 805 , each core operates at 2.66GHz to give you a Total speed of 5.3 GHz. If you run two applications - Microsoft Word and Windows Media Player at the same time, each application is run at 2.66 GHz by each core.

- Core2 - Faster than the PD and energy efficient. Core2 comes in Core2Duo, Core2Solo and Core2Extreme flavours. Core2Duo is the ideal choice to go for. The Duo stands for Dual Core : )  Unlike the PD, this is ideal for gaming and even outperforms the P4.

- Pentium Extreme Edition [XE] - P4,PD and Core2 ranges have a XE Processor. Like the name, the Price is also EXTREME ! The XE's shall not be discussed here as their Prices are way beyond most of our budgets.

2. CACHE

There are two types of memories - SDRAM > slow but is of massive capacity and cheap. SRAM > expensive and small capacity but very fast.

SRAM is used by processors. A processor uses two SRAM's or caches as they are called. Level 1 cache - L1 and Level 2 cache - L2. L1 cache is of quite small capacity and irrelevant. L2 cache is what you should concentrate on. the latest processors have upto 4MB of these or for dual core processors , 2 X 2 MB.

The more the cache size, the more instructions it can hold for the processor to perform. e.g. One reason why Celerons are slow is because of their Cache size - 256KB, for instance.

3. ARCHITECTURE

The most common and recent socket types of Intel processors are Socket 478 and Socket 775. The 775 is the latest one. 478 processors are slower than 775 ones due to the change in processor architecture. So, a Cel 775 3GHz processor will be faster than a 478 P4 3GHz processor. 

4. CLOCK SPEED

Clock Speed ...is  what a Processor is all about.

Currently, the Core2Duo is what you should go for ( if you can afford the extra bucks). Otherwise, the wise PD should serve you well.

Avoid spending an extra £25-60 on just 0.2 or 0.4 GHz + speed differences. Not worth it.

5. BUS SPEED aka FSB

Bus speed is to do with how much data a Processor can pump out. A 1066 FSB will of course be faster than the 533FSB. To obtain the FSB of your Processor, a compatible motherboard that can support the Bus speed must be used.

6. RETAIL OR OEM?

A retail boxed version has Processor + fan +3 years warranty . The warranty is kinda tricky. But, who cares as most Intel chips run for 5 years or more without problems.

An OEM version is just the processor and doesn't have any warranty or is warrantied by your seller. You have to buy an extra fan for your processor. A fan costs £5-£10. Major companies like DELL use OEM processors.

7. LIFE SPAN - A processor usually lasts for 5 years or more.

8. COST

As of now, the costs of OEM versions (775) are approximately :

Cel D - 352 3.2GHz - £32

P4 - 640 3.2GHz - £45

PD - 940 6.4GHz - £60

Core2Duo - E6400 - £80

Core2Duo - E6600 - £100

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Suitable Processor Formula = Large Cache + High Clock Speed + High FSB + Technological fetaures + Socket 775 + Low Cost

Table comparing the Intel Processors

(  http://img165.imageshack.us/my.php?image=revhl3.jpg)

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