The central processing unit (CPU), also known as a computer processor, is often referred to as the brain of a computer. It is a piece of hardware that carries out instructions.
What CPU do I need?
Modern processors are usually dual-core or quad-core, which means that there are two or four processors working simultaneously. Their speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz), with most processors available in 1–4GHz.
More cores and a higher speed generally result in better computer performance. This is especially important for gaming and graphics programs.
Another CPU specification to look out for is its 'architecture', which is usually 32-bit or 64-bit. You will need a faster 64-bit processor to take full advantage of +4GB of RAM, and 64-bit operating systems and software.
What CPU do I have?
Most computers and laptops use an AMD or Intel processor. You can find out what CPU your computer or laptop has by following the instructions for your operating system:
- Windows: Right-click on 'This PC' or 'My Computer' > Properties
- macOS: Apple menu > About this Mac
Problems with your CPU?
A damaged or old CPU can cause serious performance issues on your device. Overclocking (putting too much strain on your processor) and overheating are common problems, and most CPUs will begin to deteriorate after 5 years or so. They can also fail as the result of a power surge.