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Some Newbie Questions About CPUs

Last response: in CPUs
January 25, 2011 10:23:25 AM

So I've always been relatively proficient with computers compared to the population at large, but I still have a long way to go before I feel comfortable building my own computer. I started reading tech forums, this and one other, around the beginning of the year and finally joined this one because it seemed more welcoming and more populated.

Anyway, I watched this video: , Newegg's introduction of the Sandy Bridge, and toward the end they're explaining the naming conventions for the processors. "The 2 stands for 2nd generation (got that part) and the next three numbers are the processor skew." So my specific question is, what does 'processor skew' refer to, and how does it affect processor performance?

More generally, if anyone have any favorite "New To Tech" guides or reviews that they would recommended please feel free to post them.

Long term (over the next couple of months) I would like to build my own computer for multi tasking, some occasional gaming, and hopefully streaming television on 2 27" screens that is reasonably future proof with a budget of ~1400 USD excluding peripherals (monitors, keyboard, mouse, speakers).

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a b à CPUs
January 25, 2011 11:59:17 AM

Usually the higher the number, the higher the CPU clock rate is. When comparing Sandy Bridge CPUs and your budget, looks like you should go with 2600k.

The K means it is unlocked, so you can overclock if you want to without any complicated procedures. You just simply raise the multiplier for the CPU clock and restart.

Check out this for some comparisons.

As you can see, as the last 3 digits of the model number increase... so do the features and CPU clock frequency.
a b à CPUs
January 26, 2011 2:57:03 AM

Actually, they referred to the processor SKU or Stock Keeping Unit, which when voiced sounds like skew. In any case, ohio is right about the last three digits and such.

For general multitasking and gaming, you should go with an i5-2500. If you regularly use programs that take advantage of Hyperthreading (ripping CDs/DVDs, converting sound and video files into other formats, PhotoShopping, etc.) then you should go with an i7-2600. If you want to overclock, go with a K version. If not, the plain vanilla version of either CPU will still power your system for years to come.

I just bought this system for $1300 including shipping today, and the boxes should be arriving on Friday:
Intel Core i5-2500k
Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B cooler w/ two SilverStone FM123 fans
Gelid GC-Extreme thermal compound
ASRock P67 Pro3 mainboard
G.Skill Ripjaws X 12GB CL9 RAM (one 8GB kit and one 4GB kit)
Palit GTX 570 Sonic 1280MB video card
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB SATA hard drive
Samsung SH-S223C SATA DVD burner
Cooler Master HAF 912 case w/ six Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F fans
SeaSonic X-Series SS-560KM 560W power supply

I'm a gamer and an overclocker (along with the usual several-programs-open multitasking), so I went with parts that facilitate both.
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a b à CPUs
January 27, 2011 5:24:24 PM

The interesting thing to remember is that most processors within the same family are usually built off the same 'die' from the same silicon wafer. They do some amount of testing to 'bin' the better performers to become the faster/higher performing models (SKUs). What you're paying for when you buy the 'better' processor is that the manufacturer 'programmed/set' the processor to operate with a higher multiplier... additional functionality (additional cores... hyperthreading... turbo boost range... etc). When the manufacturing process gets good... nearly *all* the CPUs could perform at the highest rating... so great chips are programmed to be 'average' performers. That's the heart of the overclocking game.
a b à CPUs
January 27, 2011 8:02:59 PM

I think you'll enjoy building your own system. Nowadays, things are pretty easy. I tell people I'm helping... that the most likely thing they're going to screw up is making the power LED on the front not light up correctly. Get quality parts with a good warranty behind them and you'll do fine.

Things aren't going to change much in the next couple months. The Z68 (or Z67) chipset will come out for Sandy Bridge some time in Q2. AMD's Bulldozer processors will come some time this year... late this year Intel's Ivy Bridge (typically LGA 2011) processors will come out. There's some good options out there.