The processor, or CPU (Central Processing Unit), is the heart and engine of the notebook. It contains millions of transistors that allow our machines to calculate and process all the data that we will see in form of different results, as text, image, video, applications, games, etc.
Basically, the notebook CPUs are similar to the desktop ones, but designed for way lower power consumption and temperature. There are cases, though, were the laptop makers included desktop CPUs in their models to get a positive performance hit. This would cause on normal basis, (and on the negative side), a drain for the battery duration and excess of temperature for the notebook itself, so from NotebookDeluxe we do not recommend this option unless certain requirements are met for the notebook (specially high performance).
In the actual days* there are two major CPU producers, being Intel and AMD, and while is not our policy to be sided with one team only, at the moment this guide is being written our choice would be Intel every day of the week. The reader must realize the fact that the notebook business is not the same than the desktop one, where AMD is fierce competitor and matching in quality with Intel in most of their products, while on the notebook area, AMD is just not as good as Intel in terms of performance and stability at the moment. If the budget is limited, though, is a viable option.
When the time comes to buy a new laptop, there are different factors we will want to consider regarding the CPU choice:
CPU Type – Nowadays the most common option would be the Intel Core2Duo, which is a dual-core unit, being the single core notebooks already considered a bit old even though some Pentium IV models still do really well if we do not consider the temperature factor. The Quad Core technology is still in its early steps and usually giving as result overheat and high power consumption rates, due to this we do not recommend it*. For the hardcore gamer we recommend the Core2Extreme, but the price makes it prohibitive for the budget-limited user.
CPU Speed – It is measured in Megahertz’s or Gigahertz’s (MHz or GHz [1 GHz = 1024 MHz]) and along with the RAM memory it’s going to be one of the most important factors that determine the general performance of your notebook.
CPU FSB – The FSB or Front Side Bus Speed will determine the speed at which the CPU communicates with the RAM memory and the motherboard chipset, greatly affecting its performance.
CPU Level 2 Cache – Defined as well as secondary cache, we can consider it like a quick access memory that acts as bridge between the CPU and the RAM memory, speeding up the overall processing.
Let’s take an overlook to the actual* Intel processor C2D features.
The L series are under clocked versions that still do really good on performance, while having low temperatures .
The T series are one of the most famous, good performances and decent temperatures make this series the best seller.
The U series is directed to the ultra portable market with extended battery life times.
And finally, the X series score the higher ranks on clock speed, and are by far the most expensive of the C2D models. Most of people don’t find the difference between the X series and the T series big enough to justify the difference of prices, but the purists think in a different way.