In the last edition of this ongoing blog series we introduced this project and went over budget concerns for planning your build, you can find it here.
When building a system, it is a good idea to start by choosing which CPU you want to use and then building around it.
The debate rages on today, and probably will continue for years to come. This is actually a great thing since it forces both companies to innovate and find new ways to add features and increase performance in order to stay competitive with each other. There are typically certain price ranges you can expect any generation of CPU to fall within.
The sweet spot for most builders is going to be in the $150 – $300 price range. This is usually where you can get the best "bang for your buck." Most CPUs which cost over ~$300 are going to cost a lot more per % of increased performance, which means that you might be better off spending that extra money towards upgrading something else in your build, such as your graphics card, a mechanical keyboard, or a larger monitor. Most CPUs which cost under ~$150 will often have less than optimal thermal and over-clocking characteristics, and may not be as good in the long run; especially if you think you might get your feet wet with overclocking.
When it comes to CPUs there are a few ways you can compare their performance characteristics on paper, the one everyone is likely familiar with is the CPU frequency, or clock speed. CPU frequency is actually stated in two values with modern CPU, In "Max Base Frequency" and "Max Turbo Frequency" (in GHz). In addition to the speed of the CPU, you should also compare the number of cores, thermal design power (TDP) and Cache (L1, L2, and L3). On paper, you won’t always get the most accurate picture of performance, so you will also need to look at some real world benchmarks in order to get a tangible idea of how any two CPUs compare. There are hundreds, if not thousands of reviewer sites that will present this information to you. Below is a sample of a comparison of current CPUs that I grabbed from Tom's Hardware which is an excellent resource for system builders and hardware enthusiasts.
In the next post, we will cover the things you should know when picking out your motherboard.