The CPU is the brains of your computer, and the faster it works, the faster you'll be able to get on with whatever you're doing. But should you go for AMD or Intel? Should you look for a single, dual, triple or quad-core model? What do you need for gaming, office work or multimedia?

Updated: June 14, 2013 11:21 AM
By Régis Jehl
The PC processor market is dominated by two main brands—AMD and Intel. Both offer a wide choice of CPUs but, in practice, Intel seems to be leading a one-horse race when it comes to pure performance. That said, AMD by no means makes sub-standard CPUs, and is rivalling Intel on its performance-to-price ratio with competitively priced entry-level and mid-range cards.
 
The race for higher clock speeds was all the rage a few years back but that’s no longer the name of the game. To boost performances, both of the big processor-makers are progressively increasing the number of cores used in CPU chips and optimising their internal operation. Alongside performances, AMD and Intel are working to push down CPU power use, making new product generations faster and more efficient.
 
One current trend in the CPU world is for built-in graphics processing units. That’s good news for computers aimed at office computing as it means there’s no need to shell out for a separate graphics card. However, performance levels aren’t yet good enough for playing the latest games in decent conditions.
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