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.

 

ProcessorIntel Core i7-4960XIntel Core i7-4960XIntel Core i7-4930KIntel Core i7-4820KIntel Core i7-4770Intel Core i5-4440Intel Core i5-4430Intel Core i3-4130Intel Core i3-3220
Available onAlienware Aurora Alienware Aurora Alienware Aurora Alienware Aurora Alienware X51 Alienware X51 Alienware X51 Alienware X51 Alienware X51 
Turbo Boost Overclock Frequency
Overclocks the Turbo Boost Frequency
to a higher level for even more performance.
4.1GHz4.3GHz4.1GHz4.2GHz---------------
Turbo Boost Frequency
Frequency that your processor automatically speeds up to when Turbo Boost technology activates.
4.00GHz4.00GHz3.90GHz3.90GHz3.90GHz3.30GHz3.20GHz------
Base Frequency
This is the speed at which your CPU processes information
3.60GHz3.60GHz3.40GHz3.70GHz3.40GHz3.10GHz3.00GHz3.40GHz3.30GHz
Cores / Threads
Cores
- number of cores present on the CPU

Threads - number of virtual threads visible to the operating system; enabled by hyperthreading
6 / 126 / 126 / 124 / 84 / 84 / 44 / 42 / 42 / 2
Cache Size
This is the amount of cache, or onboard memory, contained within the processor.
15MB15MB12MB10MB8MB6MB6MB3MB3MB
Memory
The number of memory channels supported by your processor. More channels equals greater performance.
Quad-Channel DDR3Quad-Channel DDR3Quad-Channel DDR3Quad-Channel DDR3Dual-Channel DDR3Dual-Channel DDR3Dual-Channel DDR3Dual-Channel DDR3Dual-Channel DDR3
Lanes of PCIe 3.0 (Gen3)
Data Communication lanes used for information flow between your processor and add-in cards such as graphics cards.
404040401616161616
Turbo Boost Technology Enabled
Automatically speeds up your processor when your PC needs extra performance.
YesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo
Hyperthreading Enabled
Allows the processor to execute additional operations simultaneously. Effectively doubling core performance via multiple threads.
YesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNo
Unlocked
Unlocked processors allow you to openly change overclocking settings on processors to boost performance.
YesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNo
OverclockableYesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNo

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.