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How do I Choose the Fastest CPU?

Choosing the fastest CPU involves considering core count, clock speed, and the tasks you'll perform. Look for high GHz in CPUs with multiple cores for multitasking efficiency. Remember, the latest generation typically offers improved performance. But is raw speed all that matters for your computing needs? Discover how to balance power and practicality in our comprehensive guide. What will you prioritize?
G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

Choosing the fastest central processing unit (CPU) for your computer really does tend to come down to a numbers game. Quite simply, the fastest CPU is typically the one with the highest values for clock speed and number of cores. Worth noting, however, is the fact that this is something of a “best of all possible worlds” scenario and the reality may not always match the numbers. This is because software and hardware are imperfect and just because something looks good on paper does not mean that reality matches the text. To compensate for this, you should do some research to help you find the fastest CPU and look for benchmarks and testing reports from hardware review websites.

One of the best ways you can find the fastest CPU is to do some research. You will want to look at a number of different hardware review websites. There are many of them out there, and they will usually review hardware both qualitatively and quantitatively. This means you will be able learn how well the chip runs in a computer regarding ease of installation and similar subjects, as well as numerical comparisons between various CPUs.

Dual core processor mounted to a motherboard.
Dual core processor mounted to a motherboard.

You should be aware of a few key terms as you look for the fastest CPU, as these terms will come up quite a bit and are important for determining the speed and quality of a CPU. The clock speed of a CPU is basically how quickly it runs, both in terms of start-up and how quickly programs will run and documents will open. This speed is typically expressed in hertz or some variation such as gigahertz (GHz), which is one billion hertz. While this is in fact a measurement of frequency, it effectively translates into speed with a CPU. The higher the number, the faster the CPU, so you should look for high clock speeds to find the fastest CPU.

A Central Processing Unit (CPU).
A Central Processing Unit (CPU).

The other important term you should know when looking for the fastest CPU is the number of cores the CPU has. Older CPUs have a single core, while newer CPUs are typically made with multiple cores, which each act as an individual CPU increasing speeds and performance. Due to technological limitations, this does not typically mean that a CPU with two cores is equal to two CPUs of the same speed, but it is still faster than a single core CPU of that speed. The number of cores is typically indicated as dual-core for two cores, quad-core for four cores, and hexa-core for six cores.


As you look for the fastest CPU, you should look for reviews of CPUs on hardware review websites. These will indicate the speeds of various CPUs and how many cores the chip has. Typically, you want to look for a combination of a high clock speed and as many cores as possible. CPU reviews will typically include benchmark reports and similar testing to evaluate just how fast the chip really is, and how well it deals with rendering images for gaming, running programs, and otherwise operating.

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Discussion Comments


The CPU isn't the only thing to keep in mind when it comes to speed. You can slap the fastest CPU in the world in a computer, but it won't matter much if you don't give it the RAM that it needs to perform well. A limited amount of RAM can cause a bottleneck and that can bring processing speed down to a crawl.


It is very true that a multi-core system isn't equivalent to having separate processes running at the same time. Where multi-core systems come in handy, however, has to do with the fact that each core can be doing something different at once. In a dual core system, for example, one core may be dealing with an active Website while the other is taking care of maintenance tasks in the background such as virus scanning.

Back when computers primarily ran one program at a time, a multi core CPU wouldn't have been an advantage. Since multitasking is the new norm, multiple cores are essential for people wanting to get tasks done quickly.

In other words, the number of cores is as important when considering speed because they can handle a lot of processing simultaneously.

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    • Dual core processor mounted to a motherboard.
      Dual core processor mounted to a motherboard.
    • A Central Processing Unit (CPU).
      By: Gudellaphoto
      A Central Processing Unit (CPU).
    • A CPU.
      By: NorGal
      A CPU.
    • An Intel quad core CPU.
      By: Restyler
      An Intel quad core CPU.