What makes a good Laptop Processor?

When buying a laptop one of the most important specifications is the notebook processor. Desktop processors are different from laptop processors because for them not only the performance counts, but also how much energy they consume.

What is a processor? A processor is like the brain of the Laptop. It does all the calculations necessary.  From starting the notebook, to surfing the web with a Browser, the Processor does all the thinking necessary. The better the processor is, the faster you can start programs.
A few years ago a fast processor was necessary for many programs to run properly. Nowadays almost every program will run even on the slowest CPU (other word for Processor). The difference between a normal and a fast processor is not very big for everyday use. Most people will hardly notice any difference, except that some programs may start a few seconds quicker. Only when doing heavy computing like Photoshop, or video encoding and playing the newest games a fast processor does make a difference. For laptop owners, the most important factor is how much power the CPU uses. The more Watt per hour it uses the faster the battery will be empty.

When you decide on what processor you want in your Laptop you have to think about 3 things.

  1. Power usage:
    The more Watt a processor uses, the faster the battery will die. Most CPUs are able to reduce their power usage on command. Under moderate usage, your processor will use only half the power. Also, as a general rule, the higher the performance of a processor the faster it empties the battery.
  2. Performance:
    A slow Processor can do everything a fast processor can do, it just takes longer. For most people the performance of the processor does not make a big difference. Only when you are playing the newest games, or encode videos you will notice a real difference between the processor speeds.
  3. Price:
    That one is obvious, when you are willing to pay extra you can expect a higher performance, but usually the power usage will also increase.

What is a good Processor?

For notebooks generally Intel processors have a better performance and use less power than AMD CPUs.

In the end it comes down, to what you want to do with your Laptop. If you want to use it on the go, take the lowest performance processor. If you will keep your notebook at home most of the time, take the best performance processor, you can afford.

How to read Processor information:

Until a few years ago there was a very simple rule to find out if the processor is fast or not. The rule was: the more GHz a processor had, the faster it was. Since about 2007 GHz are not very important anymore. Newer processors have two or 4 processors combined. It is like having to or four laptops in one chassis. This makes processors faster even when they have only 1 or 2 GHz. The only way to know if it is a fast CPU is to know what model series it belongs to.

Only if two CPUs are from the same model series you can say that the one with more GHz is actually faster.

Here is a short list of some popular Processors:

  • Intel® Atom™
    Very low energy consumption, very slow, cheap
  • Intel® Core™2 Duo
    medium to high energy consumption, fast (old models), expensive
  • Intel® Core™ i
    medium to high energy consumption, very fast (new models), very expensive
  • AMD Turion™
    medium energy consumption, fast, cheap
  • AMD Athlon™
    lwo to medium energy consumption, fast, cheap
  • AMD Sempron™
    medium energy consumption, slow, very cheap

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