One of the most commonly marketed features of computers is the processor. The only problem is that the information can be a little confusing, as there are literally hundreds of different processors available, each with some sort of special feature. There’s no need to be confused, in fact, picking a processor really comes down to three different choices.
The processor, or CPU, is arguably the most important hardware component. It’s responsible for telling the other parts what to do, much like your brain. The processor is also an integral component in determining how useful an electronic device will be.
Processors are ranked in terms of hertz, or more commonly gigahertz e.g., 2.5 GHz. This is the frequency they run at. Generally, the higher the speed, the better the performance. Three different manufacturers produce a vast majority of the processors available for purchase.
- Intel. Intel is the most popular and well-known maker of processors. Manufacturers like Dell, Apple, Samsung and HP all use Intel processors in their computers. Intel processors are the most stable and offer the best all-round performance. The current i3, i5 and i7 models represent entry, middle and high level hardware.
- AMD. AMD is Intel’s biggest competitor, offering processors that are similar to Intel's, but at a, for the most part, cheaper price. The majority of computer manufacturers, except for Apple, also offer products with AMD processors. AMD’s Athlon processors are budget models while Phenom and FX are mainstream and high level respectively.
- ARM. ARM processors are generally used in smartphones, mobile devices and tablets. Apple’s iPhone and iPad; Samsung’s Galaxy line and HTC devices all use some form of ARM processor in their mobile devices. A rule of thumb is, if it doesn’t have AMD or Intel in the name, it’s most likely an ARM processor.