Copyright Michael Karbo and ELI Aps., Denmark, Europe.
Chapter 16. Choosing a CPU
If you happen to need to choose a CPU for your new PC, what should you choose? Let me give you a bit of food for thought.
Figur. 117. Pricelist from October 2004 (without VAT).
How long does a CPU last?
The individual components have different lifetimes. The way development has gone up until the present, CPU’s and motherboards have been the components that have become obsolete the most quickly. CPU’s and motherboards also go together – you normally change them both at the same time.
You have by now read all of my review of new processor technology; new and faster models are constantly being developed. The question is, then, how important is it to have the latest technology? You have to decide that for yourself. But if you know that your PC has to last for many years, you probably should go for the fastest CPU on the market.
For the rest of us, who regularly upgrade and replace our PC’s insides, it is important to find the most economic processor. There is usually a price jump in the processor series, such that the very latest models are disproportionately expensive.
By the time you read this, prices will have fallen in relation to those shown in Fig. 117. There will no doubt also be significantly faster CPU’s to choose between. But the trend will most likely be the same: The latest models are a lot more expensive than the other ones. You have to find the model that gives the most power in proportion to the price.
Also, the amount of RAM is just as important as the speed of the processor. RAM prices fluctuate unbelievably, in just a year the price can double or halve. So it’s a good idea to buy your RAM when the prices are low.
Back in the 1990’s it was quite important to get the latest and fastest CPU, because CPU’s were not fast enough for things like image processing. For example, if you try to work with fairly large images in Photoshop, on a PC with a 233 MHz processor, you will probably quickly decide to give up the project.
But whether you have 2400 or 3200 MHz – that’s not as critical, especially if you have enough RAM and are working with normal tasks. A processor running at 3200 MHz is roughly 33% faster than a 2400 MHz model, but it doesn’t always make that much difference to your daily work.
Here are some tasks, which might require more CPU power:
Video (including DVD) contains huge amounts of data. The CPU and RAM therefore have to work very hard when you edit video footage. At the time of writing, it is legal to copy DVD films for personal use, but that may change. Legal or not – it’s certainly possible. The actual ripping can take 10-20 minutes, during which the CPU slowly chews through the over 4 GB of data there are on a DVD. A 5 GHz CPU would obviously be able to reduce the time taken considerably.
Finally, speech recognition software is considered to be very CPU-intensive. This is probably only going to be a problem in the distant future. Some people imagine future versions of Windows and Office programs will have built-in speech recognition, which will place quite new demands on CPU’s. However, it is far from certain that speech recognition will ever be introduced into PC’s. There appear to be big problems in getting it to work well.