Help Me Choose: Processors

The processor or CPU processes the critical information and instructions that make your computer perform. Think of it as the system’s brains, enabling it to run the applications and other operations.

The speed at which your system runs programs, loads images and downloads files depends in part on the processor. Bandwidth, clock speed and the number of cores in the processor all help determine processor performance. In general, a higher core number indicates higher performance when comparing the same type of processor, e.g. a core i7 will perform better than an i3.

Upgrading a processor after you purchase your computer can be costly and difficult. Because of this, we recommend that you choose a processor with enough performance to meet your needs well into the future.

Today, the latest Intel® processor technology is 4th Generation Intel Core™. The completely redesigned 4th Gen processors feature huge improvements over 2nd and 3rd Gen processors, including:

• Efficiency: Spend less time looking for an outlet and more time getting things done. Intel’s latest 4th Generation processors are more power efficient than ever without sacrificing performance.

• Graphics: 4th Gen Intel Core processors provide up to 2x better graphics performance versus previous generations.* View your photos, movies and media in stunning clarity — even when you’re on the go.

• Performance: With up to 13 percent better performance than previous generations,* 4th Gen processors give you enhanced power and speed you need to accomplish tasks.


Available on: 

Alienware X51

Alienware Aurora 


Intel Core i3-4150

Intel Core i5-4460

Intel Core i7-4790 

Intel Core i7-4820K 

Intel Core i7-4930K 

Intel Core i7-4960X 

Intel Core i7-4960X 

Turbo Boost Overclock Frequency
Overclocks the Turbo Boost Frequency to a higher level for even more performance. 
 NA  NA NA NA 4.1GHz 4.1GHz 4.3GHz
Turbo Boost Frequency
Frequency that your processor automatically speeds up to when Turbo Boost technology activates. 
 NA 3.40GHz 4.0GHz 3.90GHz 3.90GHz 4.00GHz 4.00GHz
Base Frequency
This is the speed at which your CPU processes information 
 3.50GHz 3.20GHz 3.60Gz  3.70GHz 3.40GHz 3.60GHz 3.60GHz
Cores / Threads
- number of cores present on the CPU 
Threads - number of virtual threads visible to the operating system; enabled by hyperthreading
 2 / 4  4 / 4 4 / 8 4 / 8 6 / 12 6 / 12 6 / 12
Cache Size
This is the amount of cache, or onboard memory, contained within the processor 
 3MB 6MB 8MB 10MB 12MB 15MB 15MB
The number of memory channels supported by your processor. More channels equals greater performance. 
 Dual-Channel DDR3 Dual-Channel DDR3 Dual-Channel DDR3 Quad-Channel DDR3 Quad-Channel DDR3 Quad-Channel DDR3 Quad-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. 
 16 16 16 40 40 40 40
Turbo Boost Technology
Automatically speeds up your processor when your PC needs extra performance. 
 NA 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0
Hyperthreading Enabled
Allows the processor to execute additional operations simultaneously. Effectively doubling core performance via multiple threads. 
 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Unlocked processors allow you to openly change overclocking settings on processors to boost performance. 
 No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overclockable  No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Feature Benefits 
Cores The number of cores is the number of microprocessors that are inside the processor itself.
More cores mean more parallel processing power.
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. For example, a 6-lane highway would accomodate much more traffic than a 4-lane highway.
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 SpeedClock 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.
Turbo Boost Speed (optional)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. 
CacheCache 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.
Lanes of PCIeOverall, more lanes of PCIe translates to higher frame rates. The new IVB-E processors have 40 lanes of PCIe whereas the Haswell processors have 16 lanes of PCIe. In a dual video card configuration, the advantage of the 40 lanes translates to twice the bandwidth and much higher frame rates than can be achieved with 16 lanes. This allows dual video cards to operate at their maximum bandwidth.
Memory ChannelsMore channels allows more bandwidth for more resource- and memory- intensive applications. 

Which processor is best for me?

When it comes to choosing a processor, keep in mind that a higher number generally indicates better performance. Available in three performance levels, Intel® Core i3, i5 and i7 processors are designed to deliver faster, smarter performance. Depending on the number of cores within each processor, you can get more multitasking capability, extra speed or advanced media capability.

4th Gen Intel® Core™ i74th Gen Intel Core i7
Thanks to new processor technology that adapts to meet your needs and enables you to multitask faster; Core i7 processors have all the capabilities of Core i3 and i5, including Intel Turbo Boost Technology. Plus they deliver serious PC performance, especially when it comes to creating digital videos, music and photos. With four- and eight-way* multitask processing, you can get things done quicker, saving you time. Core i7 is available on select Dell systems.
Core™ i5Core i5
Apart from providing great graphics and multitasking, Core i5 processors automatically speed up when your PC needs a little extra boost, thanks to Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. With four-way multitask processing, you can get many things done at once
Core™ i3Core i3
Core i3 processors are perfect for everyday applications and are a huge step up from Pentium® processors. Featuring two cores, four-way multitask processing and new graphics capabilities, you can be sure that you will have the performance you need to get your everyday tasks done faster and enjoy a great visual experience.