HomeTechHow to Build a Computer: Processors

How to Build a Computer: Processors

Originally I had planned this segment to be about motherboards. I got to thinking about what to look for in a motherboard and realized that it all depends on the socket type for the processor.

So here is the processor guide instead. In their infinite wisdom, Intel decided to release several different socket types at the same time. Then there is AMD, who have their own set of processors and sockets just to make it even more fun.

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The AMD vs Intel debate has been going on for decades and both have good arguments. Historically, AMD’s offerings ran cooler while Intel’s ran faster. Now they are pretty much on par in the mid range processor arena as far as performance with marginal difference in price. At the high end Intel leaves AMD in the dust. The recent Bulldozer processor group from AMD was intended to be an Intel killer but ended up being a miserable disappointment. While Intel recently announced the I7 3960 X processor based on Sandy Bridge technology which is blowing away all of the competition.

Cases and power supplies aren’t really specific and one can work pretty much as well as another similar one.

Processors are specific, so I am going to do my recommendations a bit different. With processors, and pretty much every other part in this guide, I am going to list recommendations for the pieces themselves instead of generic advice. Again I am going to link all my recommendations from Newegg.com but please don’t feel that you need to buy your parts from there

Gaming
For the gaming system there is a need for a strong high end processor, It does some of the work of rendering for the video card which affects the frame rate you see on the screen. And when it comes to gaming computers everything revolves around the frame rate. It is important to note that AMD purchased ATI which makes video cards. By doing that, AMD was able to fine tune the processor and graphics to work extremely well with each other. While an AMD video card will still work perfectly fine with an Intel processor there is a performance boost when both are used together. It has been rumored that Intel and Nvidia have a similar deal but it has not been confirmed.

There are 3 main choices here for processors and there are reasons behind each one.
Firstly there is the “I don’t care what it costs it has to be the fastest” .
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116491 Nerdgasm in a chip, this processor is the best of the best right now and it has a price to match. With 6 cores and hyper threading it has a logical 12 cores of power all pushing nearly 4.0 GHz stock. This is completely unnecessary but it will make the other geeks at that LAN party drool. This processor runs on a LGA 2011 socket. That will be important when deciding on a motherboard later.

Next there are the processors that perform well without forcing you to take out a second mortgage. I will be featuring both Intel and AMD in this category for those who like choice.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072 is the Intel offering. It is a quad core processor that runs at 3.3 GHz and is unlocked. Being unlocked is important because that means it can be over clocked till your heart’s content. This runs on a LGA 1155 socket.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103960 is the AMD offering with 8 cores of 3.6 GHz of power. This is the Bulldozer based processor that was supposed to be the Intel killer. It was disappointing in that it could not beat the higher end Intel processors, but for the price it is still a good chip that will easily power anything tossed its way. Here we have a Socket AM3+

Home Theater
These processors don’t need to be powerhouses like the gaming systems. Because of the size restriction of the HTPC case it may not be a good idea to toss one of those chips into this type of system but if you went with a liquid cooling option it wouldn’t hurt anything.
For an Intel system http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115221 is a good choice. Low power consumption means low heat output which is nice for a system with limited room for heat sinks. Its still a dual core 3.0 GHz processor so you can actually use the computer for computer stuff as well. This uses a LGA 1156 socket.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103846 is a little more powerful than the Intel above at 3.2 GHz and it has a lower price. This is a really solid processor that is under taxed in a HTPC but for this price is well worth the addition. This one uses a Socket AM3

Server
Servers are a different animal all together. It’s hard to recommend a server processor without knowing its purpose. Domain controllers have different requirements from file servers and virtual servers open a whole new can or worms. I am going to generally assume the server will be used as a file server for this guide. That way I have a bit of direction and a file server can generally serve for other purposes as well in a pinch. Also a home server is generally a file server so files can be transferred between multiple computers inside the home easily. With that specification being made, on with the show!

Intel and AMD both make server specific processors Xeon for Intel and Opteron for AMD. These server specific processors are made of a higher quality because they are intended to run for decades. They are also priced like they are intended to run for decades. A general home server doesn’t need one of these processors but I’m going to throw them in there just in case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115211 is a completely viable choice from Intel. Unlike the newer Sandy Bridge processors it doesn’t have built in graphics but that’s not needed in a server anyway. This chip also allows for triple channel memory to be used. I’ll get into that a little more in depth later, but for now suffice it to say more channels is better. LGA 1366 socket
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115083

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113026 8 cores at 2.6 GHZ seems a little weak to me but the alternatives are either too expensive or even more underpowered. This uses a socket G34 Studio Studio computers will tax the processor more so than any other home system. The power needed to edit audio, video or even images is insane. Unlike gaming, where most of the burden is on the video card, there is no other part to take the majority of the burden off of the processor. Therefore the processors need to be extremely beefy.

No processor is excessive for these systems. Keep in mind this is for professional level editing. Any system can toss a YouTube video up. Here is where http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116491 would not be uncalled erfor. This thing was practically custom built for video editing. Massive power and the option for quad channel memory will definitely make a difference. The processor is expensive, but you will appreciate the time savings after your first movie. LGA 2011 again, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115070 is a good choice of the part of the world that doesn’t blow their nose with 100 dollar bills. It’s plenty fast, faster than most processors on the market, and can be over clocked extremely well. The built in graphics will also help a little. LGA1155 socket this time. As for AMD I would go with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103960. 8 cores at 3.6GHz each are perfect for this application. It has a good price and should outperform its Intel counterpart easily. This is a Socket AM3+ General I see a general computer as something that will not be obsolete in 10 minutes. It should be able to handle playing a game or two with a frame rate that doesn’t give you a headache and edit a picture without having time to take a shower before it’s rendered. From Intel I would go with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072.

Intel does make a I3 processor, but I am not a fan of the performance. That along with the price of an I5 there really is no need in goin with the lower processor. This sucker can rock, especially if it is over clocked and will not be outdated any time soon. LGA 1155 From AMD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103727 is all the processor you need. Good over clocking with an unlocked chip if you want to do so, but if not its still a 3.4 GHz quad core processor which is plenty fast. Socket AM3 A note on over clocking Over clocking is when more power is pushed through a processor so it runs faster than advertized. Computer enthusiasts have been doing this for a very long time and it has become so mainstream now that many motherboard companies now offer over clocking tools built into their motherboards. Doing so is safe for the most part however heat is a concern. Processors shut down if too much heat is built up in them. If it gets too bad the processor can burn up. So if you are going to over clock your system, please be careful! Certified Geek"> is a pretty good Xeon option if you want to go that route. This has Sandy Bridge technology here but without the graphics so it is really nice. This chip employs the LGA 1155 socket.
From AMD we have http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103961. 8 cores, 3.1 GHZ and will definitely get the job done. Again these processors didn’t deliver on their promise but that doesn’t make them bad. This is designed to be a desktop system but will fully deliver in a home server where it will be utilized a little more probably bringing out more of its potential.

Personally I have never seen an Opteron chip used. In my opinion they are overpriced for their specs however if I had to choose I would go with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113026 8 cores at 2.6 GHZ seems a little weak to me but the alternatives are either too expensive or even more underpowered. This uses a socket G34.

Studio
Studio computers will tax the processor more so than any other home system. The power needed to edit audio, video or even images is insane. Unlike gaming, where most of the burden is on the video card, there is no other part to take the majority of the burden off of the processor. Therefore the processors need to be extremely beefy. No processor is excessive for these systems. Keep in mind this is for professional level editing. Any system can toss a YouTube video up.
Here is where http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116491 would not be uncalled erfor.

This thing was practically custom built for video editing. Massive power and the option for quad channel memory will definitely make a difference. The processor is expensive, but you will appreciate the time savings after your first movie. LGA 2011 again.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115070 is a good choice of the part of the world that doesn’t blow their nose with 100 dollar bills. It’s plenty fast, faster than most processors on the market, and can be over clocked extremely well. The built in graphics will also help a little. LGA1155 socket this time.
As for AMD I would go with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103960. 8 cores at 3.6GHz each are perfect for this application. It has a good price and should outperform its Intel counterpart easily. This is a Socket AM3+

General
I see a general computer as something that will not be obsolete in 10 minutes. It should be able to handle playing a game or two with a frame rate that doesn’t give you a headache and edit a picture without having time to take a shower before it’s rendered.
From Intel I would go with http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072. Intel does make a I3 processor, but I am not a fan of the performance. That along with the price of an I5 there really is no need in goin with the lower processor. This sucker can rock, especially if it is over clocked and will not be outdated any time soon. LGA 1155
From AMD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103727 is all the processor you need. Good over clocking with an unlocked chip if you want to do so, but if not its still a 3.4 GHz quad core processor which is plenty fast. Socket AM3

A note on over clocking
Over clocking is when more power is pushed through a processor so it runs faster than advertized. Computer enthusiasts have been doing this for a very long time and it has become so mainstream now that many motherboard companies now offer over clocking tools built into their motherboards. Doing so is safe for the most part however heat is a concern. Processors shut down if too much heat is built up in them. If it gets too bad the processor can burn up. So if you are going to over clock your system, please be careful!

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