Friday, November 25, 2022

What Is The Best Processor To Have In A Laptop

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Down And Dirty Specs: A Guide To The Very Latest Laptop Cpus

Watch this BEFORE You Buy a Laptop! (Late 2021)

We haven’t tested every laptop CPU on the marketlikely no one outside of Intel or AMD has, and maybe not even them. But with our general advice behind us, let’s wrap up with more specific laptop processor recommendations for various usage scenarios in the x86 aisle.

Beyond that general specification guide, you can get more granular with cheat sheets for the most common current-generation Intel and AMD laptop CPUs, along with their suggested usages and the kinds of systems in which you’ll find them. These final two tables should be very helpful when shopping the latest-model laptops.

You’ll still see plenty of notebooks on sale with last year’s or earlier chip generations, so an exhaustive list would be impossibly unwieldly. But if you look at AMD’s or Intel’s older CPU families, it’s usually easy to identify the parallel previous-gen versions of the chips listed below. You can safely assume in most cases that, if the core and thread count is the same, they’ll offer slightly lesser performance than the latest parts, but fit in the same relative place in the company hierarchy. If the price is right, don’t dismiss an almost-new CPU.

First, a look at the Intel lineup…

And now for the up-to-the-moment AMD lineup…

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Laptop Cpu Overclocking: Is That A Thing

Nearly all laptop CPUs are incapable of overclockingthat is, they don’t let users crank their clock speeds beyond factory ratings as some gaming desktop processors do. Intel’s rare mobile Core processors with a K suffix are exceptions.

The K means that the processor has unlocked multipliers, which can be used to modify the clock speed. Intel’s only recent K-series mobile processors are the Core i9-11980HK and the Core i9-12900HK AMD just debuted an overclockable Ryzen 9 6980HX, but we haven’t tried one yet.

An overclockable CPU requires a robust cooling system.

Why not widely allow laptop CPU overclocking? The main reason is that laptops are built around strict thermal limitations. Increasing clock speed hikes power draw and generates more heat, which can cause overheating and instability or at least unwanted throttling. All told, laptop overclocking is a novelty found only on a few bleeding-edge gaming rigs with Intel K-series chips and ample cooling.

What Are The Best Processors For Gaming

If you’re a gamer and have asked yourself, what kind of processor do I need? it’s important to realize that there is no one best processor for gaming. However, there are some key considerations when determining which processor is best for your gaming device. Speed, whether or not the chip can be overclocked, and the number of cores that are present are among the most important factors that gamers should look into. Keep these in mind when researching processors.

In general, CPUs with more cores will outperform those with less, and the faster the chipset is, the better. Paired with a solid graphics processor unit, the right CPU can ensure fast, smooth, uninterrupted gaming with excellent graphics. If you are a regular gamer, consider a quad- or even octa-core chip with fast processing speed. Though such performance may be unnecessary for the average user, it can help ensure your device is a capable gaming machine for years to come.

Once more, it comes down to the question: what processor do I need? The answer will differ for everyone, but if you’re a gamer, you can’t go wrong with a quad-core Intel or AMD chip. Ultimately, you should buy the most cores and fastest processor that your budget will allow.

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Best Splurge: Amd Ryzen 9 5950x


  • Top of class in almost everything

  • Huge price

  • Advanced cooling needed

AMD claims that its Ryzen 9 5950X is a chip with zero compromises, and the brand can certainly back that up, although with a $799 MSRP. While it may perform amazing in every category, this chip also very well may be overkill, and should be reserved for those who want the Ferrari of CPU chips.

This beast has 16 CPU cores and handles 32 threads, ready to eat up any gaming or productivity you want to throw at it. The base clock is lower than other AMDs in the same series at 3.4GHz, but the max clock is higher with single core max boost coming in at 4.9GHz. Similar to other CPUs in this series, the max temperature is 90C, which is lower than some competition. It definitely requires advanced cooling, but this is not included with the chip, so you will want to purchase that in addition.

AMD’s technology suite is included, which has the Zen 3 architecture, StoreMI technology, Master Utility for overclocking, and is VR-capable. The 5950X is almost always at the top of the charts when it comes to performance testing in pretty much any area, be that FPS, standard benchmarking tests, or productivity and creative tests.

Base Clock/Boost Clock: 3.4GHz/4.9GHz | Cores/Threads: 16/32 | Socket: AM4

Which Is The Best Processor For Gaming

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Gaming requires some of the best processors in the market. Unfortunately, gaming with intense graphics pushes your processor to the limit. If youre using a processor that is not cut out to handle overload, your laptop or PC may shut off or even start lagging. Heres a table to show you how different processors handle gaming.


It is clear the AMDs Ryzen 9-5900X is capable of handling both 1080p and 1440p gaming without any difficulties. It scored a perfect 100% on the benchmark test, making it a good option for game lovers.

Within Intels processor, the latest generation core performs the best. For example, the Core i9 in a 10th generation core beats out its predecessors in terms of benchmark scores.

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Q: Does The Base Clock Matter When Buying A Processor

In the past, the base clock showed the total frequency or speed at which a processor worked, ensuring that a 2.4GHz processor was better than a 2.0GHz processor. However, in newer processor models, there is turbo boost that makes processors adjust their operating speed based on your activity. This led to the turbo boost clock, which would show the frequency or speed at which the processor can run when youre performing demanding tasks. However, this also means if you are not running such tasks, then the processor would only run at the base clock.

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Best Streaming Gaming Processor

Cores: 64 Threads: 128 Base Clock: 2.9GHz Boost Clock: 4.3GHz L3 Cache: 256MB TDP: 280W

Its incredibly high core count and astronomic 128-thread count make this processor a rendering juggernaut for video production. This CPU wont miss a step even if you suddenly decide you want to start streaming or rendering a video in the middle of playing a game.

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Amd Ryzen Threadripper: Maximum Cores And Threads

Threadripper! As its aggro name suggests, the Ryzen Threadripper is all about maximum cores and threads for the money. It’s AMD’s equivalent to Intel’s Core X-Series, and for many users a better value.

Clocks on the Threadripper chips tend to be lower than their Intel equivalents, but Threadrippers make up for that in raw core/thread count, as well as their across-the-line support for 64 PCI Express lanes. All Threadripper CPUs are overclockable.

Like the Ryzens, the Threadripper chips have passed through three generations to date. The first two are on the same platform and use the same socket . The third-gen Threadrippers introduced a new platform with a socket called sTRX4 and a chipset dubbed TRX40. The first two generations employ a single high-end chipset, the AMD X399. Third-gen chips and boards support the same 64 lanes of PCI Express bandwidth, but third-gen Threadrippers work only with third-gen motherboards and vice versa.

Threadripper processors are hugeâtheir big dies are derived from AMD’s EPYC server chipsâand require special coolers or brackets. Most existing coolers won’t work with TR4 or sTRX4, and most Threadripper desktops are liquid-cooled. You can find a few Threadripper air coolers, which are enormous, such as AMD’s own Wraith Ripper or the wonderfully named Fryzen from Deepcool, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of a heavy-duty air or liquid solution since Threadripper chips, like Intel Core X, don’t include a cooler in the box.

What Is A Processor

Should You Buy an Intel or AMD Laptop in 2022?

Every computer has a processor â a chip that turns your keystrokes and mouse scrolls into actions. Also known as the CPU , it can handle billions if not trillions of these little decisions every second. And itâs not just your inputs â the CPU must also juggle apps, games and other software while configuring hardware at the same time.

When looking at CPUs, we often talk about cores â the individual units processors are grouped into. Dual-core and quad-core processors are found on many laptops today. Dual and quad refer to the number of cores . More cores generally mean better performance.

To find the best processor, you need to think about how youâll use your new laptop.

Basic web browsing and typing require less power.

Basic web browsing and typing require less power.

Browse, stream and run spreadsheets simultaneously, youâll need more power

Heavy duty tasks like video editing and PC gaming demand the most power

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What Are The Key Cpu Specs And Which Should I Care About

If you’re looking at a spec sheet for a given CPU, you’ll see a lot of numbers. Here’s what to look out for.

  • Clock speeds: Measured in gigahertz , this is the speed at which the chip operates, so higher is faster. Most modern CPUs adjust their clock speeds up or down based on the task and their temperature, so you’ll see a base clock speed and a turbo speed listed.
  • Cores: These are the processors within the processor. Modern CPUs have between two and 64 cores, with most processors containing four to eight. Each one is capable of handling its own tasks. In most cases these days, you’ll want at least four cores–or at least four threads .
  • Threads: This is the number of independent processes a chip can handle at once, which in theory would be the same as the number of cores. However, many processors have multithreading capability, which allows a single core to create two threads. Intel calls this Hyper-Threading and AMD calls it SMT . More threads means better multitasking and enhanced performance on heavily-threaded apps such as video editors and transcoders.

You shouldn’t pay too much attention to cache size, because it’s hard to equate to real-world performance, and there are more important factors to consider.

IPC is not usually listed as a spec and is usually measured through benchmark testing, so the best way to learn about it is to read our CPU reviews.

Y Series : Fanless Designs Mediocre Performance

Good For: Portability, Fanless Design, Light ProductivityBad For: Battery Life, Serious Number Crunching

When you’re shopping for a laptop, be wary of the Y series , which you may see branded with Core i5 / Core i7 . Intel Y Series processors have a very-low TDP of 7 watts, which allows manufacturers to use them in fanless, super-thin laptops. Unfortunately, most of those laptops also have low-capacity batteries or high-powered screens so they actually end up with worse battery life than competitors with more powerful U-series processors.

Common Intel Y Series CPUs

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Buying Basics: Four Key Concepts To Know About Cpus

Let’s take a quick look at some basic specs you need to understand before digging into Intel’s and AMD’s lines.

CORE COUNT. It’s a gross oversimplification, but think of core count like engine cylinders more cores generally indicate more power, all else being equal.

Of course, all else is seldom equal, and comparing core count is really meaningful only within the same generation of a given CPU line. That said, more cores are generally better, within reason. If the software you use is multithreaded , more cores will help. And some demanding PC games require a certain core or thread count, usually a minimum of four. In descriptions of CPUs, you may see the core/thread count in a sort of shorthand , for example, 8C/16T, meaning eight cores and 16 threads.

This loose equation has gotten more nuanced, however, with the launch of Intel’s 12th Generation “Alder Lake” processors, and more specifically the introduction of what the company is calling its “Performance Cores” , and “Efficiency Cores,” or E-cores. These two core types co-exist on the same die in what’s referred to as a “big.LITTLE” architectural design, in which cores engineered for peak performance output are paired with another set that runs more power-efficiently at lower clocks.

Eight P-cores threaded twice, combined with eight single-thread E-cores equals 24 threads. Don’t worry, this won’t be on the test!

Cpu Lingo And Why It Matters

My current setup as a massive gaming laptop enthousiast! (by the way ...

Undoubtedly, you will encounter some niche vocabulary on your search for a great processor. Some articles suggest that these terminologies are insignificant, especially if you do not plan on building a whole PC yourself, or even installing the processor. They are not entirely wrong. There are few instances in which youll have to cite these concepts.

However, these terminologies are vital to understanding a processors specifications and what it promises to offer. That said, take a look at some of the most critical terminologies to add to your CPU vocabulary.

Clock speed, also known as frequency, is used to describe the rate at which a processor can complete instructions. Usually, clockspeed is measured in GHz.

The cache is used in reference to a CPUs internal memory. There are different levels of cache, all of which serve as memory for your CPU.

Cores and multi-cores fundamentally refer to processors. The first CPUs developed had a single core, but many modern processors are based on a multi-core design. This means that a single chipset can house many processors. The presence of multi cores allows current processors to multitask with ease.

TDP is an important number given in Watts. The acronym stands for Thermal Design Power and is used to describe the processors power consumption rate. Usually, TDP rates helps match the processor with an efficient cooling system.

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Clock Speed: The Cpu Stopwatch

Measured in megahertz or more often gigahertz , a processor’s clock speed is its operating frequencya driver of how many instructions the processor can crunch through per second. Higher clock speed is generally better, though things get muddy when comparing clock speeds between different brands or even between chips within the same brand. That’s because some CPUs are more efficient than others, able to process just as many instructions in a given slice of time despite operating at a lower clock speed. Still, clock speed can be telling when comparing chips within a single vendor’s family line.

To complicate things further, today’s processors typically have two advertised clock speeds: a base clock and boost clock, sometimes dubbed turbo speed since Intel refers to the duality as Turbo Boost technology. When handling light workloads, the CPU runs at its base clock, typically between 1GHz and 2GHz for laptop chips though sometimes higher depending on the processor’s rated wattage. When more speed is needed, the CPU temporarily acceleratesoften to 3.5GHz to 5GHz or sountil the task is done. Processors don’t run at their boost clock all the time because they might overheat.

An Intel CPU manufacturing wafer

Best Laptop 202: The 15 Laptops We Recommend

There are so many to choose from, so let CNET help you choose the right laptop.

There may be no decision more fraught than buying a new laptop computer. You use this device every day and chances are it’s integral to managing your day-to-day life — tasks like work, school, ordering necessities and paying bills.

To make the decision even more difficult, most laptops look pretty much the same and it takes a deep dive into the details and a thorough understanding of computer specs to understand the difference between models. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we can help.

At CNET our computer experts have spent a combined 60 years testing and reviewing laptops, covering everything from performance to price to battery life, all to help you find and buy the best laptop. We’re here to help you pinpoint the best laptop for your needs. This hand-curated list covers our top picks across various laptop sizes, styles and budgets and those running on Windows, MacOS and Chrome. Microsoft recently released the full version of its Windows 11 operating system and all of the laptops on this list should fully support the new OS.

This list is periodically updated with new models we’ve tested and reviewed. It’s a great place to start to get an idea of what’s available. But if you need advice on whether a particular type of laptop or two-in-one is right for you, jump to our laptop FAQ at the bottom of the list.

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Amd Ryzen Vs Intel Core Vs Apple M1

For many years, AMD processors only appeared in budget systems with mediocre performance and battery life. However, late in 2017, the company got its swagger back, releasing its new Ryzen Mobile platform. Then, in 2020, AMD made a huge leap by debuting its Ryzen 4000-series chips, many of which outperformed their Intel counterparts. Then, earlier this year, AMD released its Ryzen 5000 chips, like the one in the Asus Zephyrus G15.

At this point, we can confidently recommend that you don’t pay extra to get an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 if there is a cheaper AMD-powered version because the Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000-series chips are so similar in performance.

Other AMD chips that are non-Ryzen are less capable than a modern Core i5 or Core i7 and should only be considered when getting a very low price, rather than strong performance is your main concern.

As for Apple, it currently has a single custom laptop chip called the M1. So far, it’s the most powerful mobile CPU in existence so long as your software runs natively on its ARM-based architecture. So far, the M1 is available in only the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro but we expect to see an upgraded version of the chip in the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro and 14-inch MacBook Pro. If you’re curious how the M1 stacks up against Intel chips, see our M1 vs. Intel comparison guide.

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