When you’re buying a new laptop there’s an awful lot to think about: battery life, weight, size, design, memory, operating system, wireless options. Of all the decisions you’ll need to make, arguably most important will be choosing the right type of processor. Here’s our guide to helping your understand all the techie jargon.

What exactly does a processor do?

The word processor comes from the term Central Processing Unit (more commonly called CPU) which refers to the crucial part of a laptop that regulates computing power and controls the functions of the main drive. There are many different types of processor available and each has considerable input into how quickly a laptop will run, and the sort of tasks it will be able to perform.

Ultraportable processors

The majority of netbooks will have simple Atom processors as these machines are primarily used for web based tasks, rather than running anything too complex. An Atom 330 processor will offer you improved running speeds; however, the battery life will decrease considerably, to the point where you will want to be constantly connected to a mains supply. N450 chips offer better netbook battery life.

Notebooks tend to use dual core processors which are similar to the CPUs in many laptops, but have much lower clock speeds (the average running speed of the computer – also called processor speed).

Laptop processors

Most computers for general home use have either dual core or quad core processors. These days it is best to avoid Pentium and Celeron CPUs as these are older Intel brands which are becoming outdated; although they can offer a cost-effective solution if you only need basic functionality. The latest laptops will have i3, i5, or i7 processors, with former representing the lower end of the market. Laptops with i5 cores provide good running speeds for the majority of mainstream users, and i7 laptops are powerful machines ideal for technology enthusiasts or business users that require excellent performance. These more advanced processors are capable of ‘hyperthreading’ – using different cores for multiple processes at once.

How to decide?

Firstly, you need to think about what you need the machine to do. If you just going to be using web browsing and email, an i3 core should be sufficient. A decent operating speed is important for a lot of people in which case an i5 processor might necessary. If you are interested in gaming you’ll not only need a laptop with an i7 core, but you’ll also need to think about getting a decent GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).

Within each core type you will find considerable specification variation which can complicate matters. A good general rule is that higher numbers represent faster speeds; higher clock speeds and more cache is also preferable.

If you are still unsure about which processor is right for your needs why not ask an expert? Our London based IT consultants will be happy to provide advice about which IT resources are right for your business.