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FAQ About CPUs and Processors

Are you building a desktop from scratch or looking to upgrade your current computer? If so, one of the most important components you'll need to consider is the CPU. Not sure what to look for in a processor? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions you may have.

What is a CPU or processor?

The CPU (central processing unit) is the brain inside of your computer. It helps determine what tasks you can do and how fast you're able to do them. Everyday computing activities such as typing documents, sending emails, watching videos, and playing games would be impossible without a processor.

When do I need to buy a new CPU?

You may want to buy a new processor if your current CPU has 2 or less cores and you're finding your computer is getting sluggish and frustratingly slow. You'll also need to buy a new CPU if you're building a computer from scratch.

What's the difference between quad core and dual core?

Every CPU comes equipped with processing cores. Cores are responsible for handling all the data sent to the processor. Multiple cores are able to split up the processor's tasks which results in faster and more efficient performance. The tasks you wish to perform on your computer will help determine whether a dual core or quad core processor is best for you. Dual core processors can be found in most desktops. They are designed for basic multitasking and allow you to surf the web, send emails, and edit word documents at the same time without slowing down your computer. Quad core processors offer more power and allow you to stream HD content, play games, and edit photos or video simultaneously.

What CPU do I need for gaming?

Love to game? If so, you'll want a processor with a minimum of 4 cores. Generally, the more cores you have, the better performance you'll get. A quad core or more processor effectively handles large amounts of data so you can enjoy a lag-free gaming experience.

Want more info about processors? Check out some of our resources:

Build your own PC: Everything you need to know about CPUs

Desktop PC Buying Guide

PC Gaming Buying Guide

Laptop Buying Guide