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A Beginner's Guide to PC Building Part 2

A Beginner's Guide to PC Building Part 2

Choosing a CPU Now that you have an idea of what the purpose of your new computer is we can now move on to selecting one of the most important parts to go into a computer, the Central Processing Unit (CPU). For the consumer market, there are 2 main companies to choose from, Intel® and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD®). Each company has 4 main tiers in their product lines with their own naming schemes.

Segment refers to the targeted user group, where low numbers are marketed towards mainstream and price oriented customers, and where the high numbers are marketed towards enthusiasts and performance oriented customers. This measurement numbering scheme is used throughout the naming scheme for both companies CPUs. Generation is just the current generational iteration of a particular brand.

Power Suffix These indicate extra features and also an indicator of performance. If blank then it just means standard or generic version.



X = High Performance w/ XFR

C = Iris Pro Graphics

G = DT w/ GFX

K = Unlocked clock multiplier

T = Low Power Desktop

R = Iris Pro Graphics, BGA version

S = Low Power Desktop w/ GFX

S = Energy Efficient (65W)

H = High Performance Mobile

T = Low Power (35W – 45W)

U = Standard Mobile

X = Unlocked Clock Multiplier

M = Low Power Mobile

XE = Unlocked/Extreme Performance


H = High Performance


HK = High Performance/Unlocked


HQ = Quad core/High Performance


U = Ultra Low Power

Now that you have an understanding of the CPU names we can finally go into choosing a CPU. For those who don’t need any further info and just want to see a selection of CPUs, here are a few of links to jumpstart your search:

Now for the real question: AMD or Intel. Every person/source you go to will have a million and one reasons why one brand is better than the other, we are not here to add to that. In the end will all come down to what you decided on as the purpose for your machine and which CPU will serve that purpose the best. As for the time being a general rule of thumb to follow is that CPUs of Intel excel at higher clock speeds and have stronger non distributed workload performance, whereas CPUs of AMD excel at multi-core (distributed workload) performance.

Ryzen 3 and Core i3 These CPUs are ideal for people working on a very tight budget and only need the computer to be able to handle basic tasks such as web browsing, light gaming, and office work

Ryzen 5 and Core i5 Moving up to the 5s will yield a very noticeable increase in performance over the 3s with a modest increase in price (most bang for your buck is here). These can handle most things the user can throw at it. The CPUs will be able to handle everything the 3s could do along with now easily running most programs for programming, 3D Modeling, and video editing/encoding. If you are a content creator this is the minimum you should go for.

Ryzen 7 and Core i7 Moving up to the 7s you will still see improvements in performance but not as noticeable as compared to the 3 to 5 jump. Generally, people move to these cards after owning a 5s CPU and found that they were being bottlenecked by the CPU when trying to perform their work. Studio quality audio work, running computer simulations such as stress tests on parts, and live streaming are examples of some tasks that are very CPU intensive.

Ryzen Threadripper and Core i9 (and Intel’s Extreme models) Generally speaking people who buy these either are pushing the previous level CPUs to the limit or enthusiasts that are trying to build the ultimate system. The increase in performance increase is marginal over the 7s and the prices leaps up, but if you need it, then buy it!

Here is the link again for the chart of CPUs, and take note of the socket type as you will need to know it for when we are selecting a motherboard in Part 3 of A Beginner’s Guide to PC Building!

Celeron, Centrino, Intel, the Intel logo, Intel Atom, Intel Core, Intel Inside, the Intel Inside logo, Intel vPro, Intel Xeon Phi, Itanium, Pentium, and Xeon are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Ryzen™ Threadripper™ is a trademark of Advanced Micro Devices®

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