Processor Speed Is One Small Factor When Buying Computer

Saturday, February 4, 2012, AM | Leave Comment

You may be thinking about buying a computer in the new year, either a desktop or laptop. The prices have come down considerably and they have become more powerful as well. Whether you are upgrading or in the market for your first ever computer, there are certain misconceptions that must be clear in your mind.

Processor Speed Is One Small Factor When Buying Computer

The aim of this post is to not judge computer performance by the processor (CPU) speed alone. But it has turned out to be a common misconception to do so.

The clock speed of a CPU – these days measured in Gigahertz (GHz) – has very little to do with relative performance of the computer.

The speed only comes into play when you want to compare different processors in the same product line.

Gone are the days when the speed was measured in Megahertz (MHz). GHz is 1,000 times MHz, in round figure of course.

  • Removing Misconception

    Besides processor speed, there are many other factors that affect performance in computers. They include memory speed and its architecture, internal bus speed of the CPU, storage technology, and software, both Operating System (OS) and application.

    All these components contribute heavily to the perceived speed of a computer.

  • Quad-core vs Dual-core vs Single-core

    One CPU is generally considered single-core. The clock rate is important only if you run a single-threaded application.

    Such applications will run on only one of the cores, and will make a quad-core 2.4Ghz CPU look slower than a single-core with speed of 3.2 Ghz.

    Most consumers don’t need the quad-core. If you are running some kinds of scientific experiments, then you know what you want and you probably would get it.

  • Desktop vs Laptop

    A good example for comparison for an average consumer is comparing a desktop to a laptop computer. Desktops are generally faster than laptops, even at the same clock rate (Ghz).

    However, laptops have caught up and are quite close to the clock speed of a comparable desktop.

    Other components that make the desktop faster typically include the disk speed which in a laptop spins at 4200 rpm (some are 5400 rpm), where a typical desktop has a 7200 rpm drive. The CD-ROM in a laptop is typically slower than what you find in desktops also.

  • Forget this mambo jumbo. Buy computer for your needs

    When you enter a computer store, the salesperson might try to sell you more powerful computer than you would actually need.

    On the average, we use less than 50% of its power. If you are buying the computer for some special purpose like running some heavy kinds of games on it, then most probably you already know what you want to get.

    But if you are one of the millions of folks who want to use the computer for simple tasks like Internet access or use word processor or perhaps spreadsheet, then you are better off buying the least powerful (and the least expensive) computer in the store.

    Even the least powerful might come with a 2GHz clock speed. So single-core or at the most Dual-core for almost the same price will work out just fine

In a Nutshell
A fast computer is more than just clock speed of its CPU. In other words, clock speed is a poor indicator of a computer’s ability to get work done.

The important thing to know is what you are going to use the computer for.

Determine your needs and if you buy beyond that for little or no extra money, then by all means go ahead and buy it.

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