Help Me Choose: Processors

The processor is the brain of your computer system. This is where all tasks are executed and all computations are made. Everything on your computer is run through the processor.

Because the processor is physically on the motherboard, it can be very difficult and expensive to upgrade the processor after you purchase your Alienware™ system. Choosing the processor that best meets your computing needs is a great way to help ensure your computer can perform at a high level for a long period of time.

 

There are three dynamics to the processor:

  • The number of cores is the number of microprocessors that are inside the processor itself. By being able to allocate tasks across multiple cores, your system can perform more calculations at once, as well as perform more complex calculations by pooling cores together to share resources. While the clock speed of a quad-core processor may be lower than that of a dual-core processor, keep in mind that you have four cores running at that speed as opposed to only two running at perhaps a slightly higher speed.
  • Clock speed tells you how quickly your processor can perform. Clock speeds are measured in gigahertz or GHz. One hertz equals one action per second and 1GHz equals one billion actions per second.
    • Overclocked processors* have been adjusted to run faster than the clock speed for which they were tested and approved. Unlike Intel® Turbo Boost that dynamically adjusts core speeds, maxing out a single core, Alienware sets a higher default speed for all cores. This performance is useful in a gaming environment because your machine can update and render more quickly, giving you an edge in the competition.
  • Cache is the amount of memory that sits on the processor, as opposed to memory that sits on the motherboard. Cache helps the processor balance the load and operate more efficiently. Since it is on the processor, it is faster than system memory.

There are also other optional features of processors you can select for your Alienware system:
  • Turbo Boost speed is the maximum speed the processor will achieve when lowering the performance of all but a single core. A quad-core CPU with a clock speed of 1.73GHz and a turbo boost speed of 2.93GHz will run all four cores at 1.73GHz for most applications. When additional power is needed, the CPU will lower the clock speeds of three of the cores while increasing the clock speed of one core up to a maximum speed of 2.93GHz. It is essentially a dynamic overclocking process built in to the Intel Core™ i5 and Intel Core i7 processors.
If you want... Choose... 
The highest level of performance available from Intel, designed for intelligent performance on the most demanding tasks, such as creating digital video and playing intense games.Intel Core i7 Quad Processors
The ability to run simultaneous bandwidth-intensive applications alongside background tasks such as virus scans and file downloadsIntel Core i5 Quad Processors
Cost-effective, reliable processing power for basic business computing tasksIntel Core i3/i5 Quad Processors
ProcessorBase FrequencyTurbo Boost FrequencyCoresCache SizeThreadsOverclockable*
Intel Core 2 Duo SU73001.30GHzDual Core3MB2Y
Intel Core i5 520UM1.066GHz1.866GHzDual Core3MB4Y
Intel Core i7 640UM1.20GHz2.266GHzDual Core4MB4Y
Intel Core i5 470UM1.33GHz1.86GHzDual Core3MB4Y
Intel Core i7 680UM1.46GHz2.53GHzDual Core4MB4Y
Intel Core i3 350M2.26GHzDual Core3MB4N
Intel Core i5 370M2.40GHzDual Core3MB4N
Intel Core i5 540M2.53GHz3.06GHzDual Core3MB4N
Intel Core i7 620M2.66GHz3.33GHzDual Core4MB4N
Intel Core i7 720QM1.60GHz2.80GHzQuad Core6MB8N
Intel Core i7 740QM1.73GHz2.93GHzQuad Core6MB8N
Intel Core i7 840QM1.86GHz3.20GHzQuad Core6MB8N
Intel Core i7 940XM2.13GHz3.33GHzQuad Core8MB8Y