Building Your Own PC – Stage 2 – CPU and Graphics
Following on from Part 1 – you may already have decided on which components you are going to use. However, there are two key and critical components in each PC… the core processor and the graphics card. Although graphics tablets are more popular than ever, right now, we simple can’t overlook the necessity of using a computer. Yes, we use tablets, from IOS, Android, Windows, but they are still considered a secondary device. As a computer use is considered to be more than a simple hobby they still are a necessity for both personal and professional use. This is why we do need to take computer performance into account when we purchase a new device. A business may only need to open the occasional document, run a small program that connects to a data base, but more often than not the computer requires a decent processor to fetch and execute data such as number crunching and a decent graphics card to produce that 3d blueprint/architects drawing or edit the 3D animation.
A computers performance includes things like short response time for a given piece of work, low utilization of the available resources, a great rate of processing, fast data compression and decompression as well as a short data transmission time. All of these can affect our experience with a computer tremendously, that’s why we need to be careful when we buy a new computer. However, even months after the purchase we do need to make sure that the computer remains in tip-top shape and the only way to make sure of that is by analyzing its performance often. We do need to make sure that the computer we buy is the one that suits our needs.
The CPU is the main component that actually states how fast your computer will run. If the processor is not fast enough, at least compared to the other components, it will just slow your productivity down, and that is surely something that you can’t afford. The architecture of a processor is really important as well. There are two main types of architecture, the 32-bit and 64-bit, each one having its own advantages. Of course, the recommended one is the 64-bit, as it allows you to add a larger amount of RAM and doesn’t really add any limits to the computer creation process. There are also multi-core processors which are basically multiple processors included into a single one, and these are great for multitasking. In choosing the chip, it also dictates which motherboard is required. Each chip has a specific associated socket, and must be matched with a motherboard with the same specification socket.
There are mainly two brands of processor – Intel and AMD. Both do a dual core and quad core processor. There are a few things to look out for:
• Model Number and type of chip.
• Speed of processor (rated in hertz).
• Amount of cache memory onboard.
• Socket type.
• There are lots of applications that can help you measure CPU performance but also display CPU information, such as PassMark and CPUZ. While using such benchmarks you need to know that higher values are always better, so you do want your CPU to get a great score. There are lots of benchmarks posted on the internet by normal users or magazine editors, and their purpose is to help people like us make a decision.
The graphic processing unit is responsible for everything you see on your display. Be it the operating system, complex games or the latest videos on YouTube, all of these are rendered by the GPU. Have you ever owned one of the first generation netbooks? You often saw some refreshing on a flash video, such as on YouTube for example. This would have been down to the graphics processor. While the mundane tasks can be performed by an integrated graphics card, in order to run the latest videogames you will need to get a high end GPU that can easily cost more than 1000$ for example. The same can be said of 3d design programs such as AutoCAD or Blender. It’s also important that you have a high end CPU as well, as they are co-dependent.
When you buy a GPU or CPU, you need to find information about how they perform in a benchmark, as that shows their performance and reliability. A benchmark is basically the act of running a computer program in order to assess its performance.
When it comes to the GPU, the best benchmarks are those that involve gaming capabilities, such as 3DMark for example. Here you also need to check the FPS values as well, as these will show you how many frames per second you gain with that card. The FPS value influences gameplay directly, as values below 15 for example can make the game totally unplayable.
In conclusion, choosing the CPU and GPU is really important, especially for those people that want to create a state of the art computer specifically for gaming and video editing. While computer performance is crucial, you do need to take into account where and how you use the device, as better performance will always cost a lot more.