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.
How to read processor descriptions:
A — This describes the type of processor you are purchasing.
B — This is known as the processor number and refers to the following attributes: GHz, L2 cache and front-side bus speed.
C — This is the clock speed or the speed at which the CPU processes information.
D — Turbo Boost is a new feature that automatically speeds up your processor when your PC needs extra performance, giving you the extra power when you need it and saving power when you don’t. What you get is performance on demand during peak usage when the processor is operating below maximum capacity. In the example above, the processor with Turbo Boost feature can increase clock speed from 2.4GHz up to 2.93GHz.
E — 2C indicates there are two cores on a single processor, giving you the power to multitask.
4T indicates four threads so you can multitask faster and experience less wait time.
F — This is the amount of L3 cache available to the processor.
|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 downloads||Intel Core i5 Quad Processors|
|Cost-effective, reliable processing power for basic business computing tasks||Intel Core i3/i5 Quad Processors|
|Processor||Base Frequency||Turbo Boost Frequency||Cores||Cache Size||Threads||Overclockable*|
|Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300||1.30GHz||Dual Core||3MB||2||Y|
|Intel Core i5 520UM||1.066GHz||1.866GHz||Dual Core||3MB||4||Y|
|Intel Core i7 640UM||1.20GHz||2.266GHz||Dual Core||4MB||4||Y|
|Intel Core i5 470UM||1.33GHz||1.86GHz||Dual Core||3MB||4||Y|
|Intel Core i7 680UM||1.46GHz||2.53GHz||Dual Core||4MB||4||Y|
|Intel Core i3 350M||2.26GHz||Dual Core||3MB||4||N|
|Intel Core i5 370M||2.40GHz||Dual Core||3MB||4||N|
|Intel Core i5 540M||2.53GHz||3.06GHz||Dual Core||3MB||4||N|
|Intel Core i7 620M||2.66GHz||3.33GHz||Dual Core||4MB||4||N|
|Intel Core i7 720QM||1.60GHz||2.80GHz||Quad Core||6MB||8||N|
|Intel Core i7 740QM||1.73GHz||2.93GHz||Quad Core||6MB||8||N|
|Intel Core i7 840QM||1.86GHz||3.20GHz||Quad Core||6MB||8||N|
|Intel Core i7 940XM||2.13GHz||3.33GHz||Quad Core||8MB||8||Y|