Part 3 – Processor
The Central Processing Unit (CPU), also called the processor, is the brain of the computer. It processes all inputs from devices and returns the outputs to the devices. It is the job of the CPU to perform all calculations to make the computer work – it is the decision maker of the computer.
Computer processors have been in existence since the 1950s, but what we call general purpose processors (aka microprocessors) have been around since the 1970s when Intel released the first commercial processor in 1971. I’m not going to bore you with further history, so I’m not going to talk about Pentiums I, II, III, IV, Core Duo, Celeron, etc.
Intel has dominated the personal computer space when it comes to processors – they currently dominate more than 75%. In our part of the world, you will likely see personal computers equipped with Intel processors such Core i3, i5, i7. i9 has been released but it’s very expensive and not that common currently. Generally, Intel Core i7 is faster than Intel Core i5, which in turn is faster than Intel Core i3, but that is not always the case. The generation of the processor is more important. The newer the generation, the faster the processor; so an i5 with 7th generation is actually faster than an i7 with 4th generation. The number that comes immediately after the processor brand modifier (i3, i5, i7, i9) is the generation number. E.g. If you see a laptop with a processor information such as this i5-8250U, the 8 after the hyphen indicates that it is an 8th generation processor – the U is the product line suffix and it’s important to take note of that as well.
The product line suffix tells you whether your personal computer is good for gaming or not. The most common suffix lines for personal computers that Intel released are:
- H Series. E.g. Core i5-8300H. If you are a serious gamer or power user, this line of processor is for you. Gaming laptops normally come with this line of processors. But they are not good for battery life and are expensive.
- G series. E.g. Core i7-8705G. If you are a gamer but not a heavy gamer, this is the one for you. It is also good for productivity work but not good for heavy gaming because the battery life for laptops with this series is bad.
- U series. E.g. Core i5-8350U. If you are a fan of longer battery life and you only do productivity work, watching movies, and browsing, this is the one for you. Processors of this series are not ideal for gaming or professional animation work.
- Y Series. E.g. Core i5-7Y54. The Y series are good for light productivity, portability and fanless design but battery life is bad. Performance is also mediocre compared to the other lines.
In summary, I won’t recommend buying an i3 laptop. Buying a laptop is an investment, so if you’re going to buy a brand new one, buy an i5 or i7 with a minimum of 7th generation.
I’m going to summarise my posts on hard drive, memory and processor next.