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Know Your CPU

What you should know before upgrading.....

Possibly the worst thing that anyone can do when upgrading a PC is to rush in without knowing what exactly the hardware of their PC is. Knowing what is inside your PC will determine the decision as to what upgrade you will make. Before you start you should at least know what CPU is inside your PC. What we are referring to is knowing the make and speed of your chip, i.e., Intel Pentium at 133 MHz. Luckily, most people wanting to upgrade would already know this, but there are those who don't know and we can't stress its importance mare highly. 

Processor Identification

Intel. If your computer uses an Intel processor, you may not even have to open the case to determine what kind of processor you have. Look for the “Intel Inside” sticker on your PC. It may list the core speed. It should at least say whether the chip uses MMX technology. Another alternative is to go directly to Intel's support pages were you will find Intel’s CPU ID utility: http://www.intel.com This will tell you the family and model of your current processor. You also can open the case and read the inscription printed on the processor. (NOTE: Turn off and unplug your computer before opening the case.)

Cyrix. If you are using a computer with a Cyrix processor, you can find out what it is by opening the case. The label on the M II and 6x86 Cyrix processors will list the core and bus speeds, for example 225/66. The MediaGX processor lists the core speed only.

AMD. The tops of AMD’s processors have lots of information, including the product name, the core speed, the voltage, and the ordering part number. You can see a diagram of this layout on AMD’s World Wide Web site, at http://www.amd.com

The process of changing a CPU will either be simple or impossible. Which category your PC falls into depends on how old it is and what new processor you want to put into it. 

The most basic difficulty is that older motherboards frequently don't support the latest chips. For instance , a Pentium II motherboard is unlikely to support a PIII processor. You will also find that your Intel chip can't be replaced by an AMD one (or vice versa, unless they pre-date Socket7 technology)
For the different types of Slots and Sockets (click here)

Before deciding which processor you need you may want ask yourself the following question...

What do I use my computer for???

For Example:

Answer  - "I mostly just use it for word processing, email and surfing the web." 

You can live very happily with a low cost socket7 CPU from any of the chip makers out there.  All of them are capable of providing excellent service in most word processing, spreadsheet, and small database programs. (Even on the low end, today's processors are faster than you think and are more than adequate for these kinds of applications)

Answer  - "Yes, I use those applications but the kids like to play those horribly violent arcade  games as well."            
Well now, this calls for a little more thought...
The quality and intensity of the computer gaming software available is growing at an enormous speed.  However, look for the minimum system requirements on the last game you purchased.  Does the game run on a 486 MHz based computer? (Many still do.)   So, maybe you'll want a middle of the road MMX capable processor.  (It may be worth investing in a better graphics accelerator card.)

Answer - "Games, games, games and more games!!!" 

Our suggestion - Make sure you have a good job, you'll need one to keep up with the cost of maintaining the fastest 3D gaming technology that grows by leaps and bounds everyday, plus you will need a fast processor.  You will definitely want MMX and if you are adventurous we suggest that you look into 3D Now technology.  

Answer - "I mostly use extremely sophisticated graphics and 3D modeling programs or heavy floating point statistical analysis tools."

You probably already know what you need.  These applications require speed and excellent floating point performance. find the latest Intel and AMD products.