How to Compare Laptop CPUs

Written by stephen lilley
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How to Compare Laptop CPUs
A CPU, disconnected from a computer motherboard. (A CPU image by Yanir Taflev from

The CPU (or central processing unit) is the main piece of hardware in any laptop computer. Without the CPU your computer wouldn't be able to load even the simplest programs, let alone your operating system. If you're in the market for a new CPU for your laptop you'll need to examine a few different units and compare. Only then will you be confident that you're spending money on the right unit.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Examine the "clock speed" of any laptop CPUs you're comparing. This speed (which will be measured in gigahertz) refers to the total number of processes a CPU can execute per second. The higher the clock speed, the more processes your CPU will be able to run and the faster your computer will perform.

  2. 2

    Look at the number of cores that a laptop CPU has. Just because a laptop CPU has a seemingly low clock speed doesn't necessarily mean the unit is lacking in power if there are multiple cores. Dual-core and quad-core CPUs contain two and four cores, respectively, all operating at the same clock speed. That means your computer actually has two or four (depending on the unit) times the processing power that the clock speed actually indicates.

  3. 3

    Look at the "thermal design power" of any laptop CPUs you are comparing. This number will refer to the total number of watts that a CPU will output and draw from your laptop computer's power supply. Lower numbers indicate a CPU that will operate at a cooler temperature than a unit with a high thermal design power number.

  4. 4

    Look at the "Bus Speed" measurement of any laptop CPUs you're considering. This refers to the total speed at which a CPU can communicate with the laptop's other components. The fastest CPU in the world isn't going to do you much good if it has a low bus speed, because its instructions will reach the rest of your machine quite slowly. As with "clock speed," the higher the bus speed the better.

  5. 5

    Compare the price of any CPU you're thinking of buying. The price of a CPU will vary depending on the quality and overall specs. For a basic, entry-level single core CPU you can expect to spend between £32 and £65. For a high-level dual core or quad core processor you can expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $350. Keep in mind, though, that technology is advancing all the time, so what is "high-level" today may not remain so next week or even tomorrow (prices reflect the market as of March, 2010).

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