How to choose a processor for a laptop


As practice shows, in the modern world, many consumers choose a laptop instead of a desktop PC as a workstation. It makes no sense to describe the advantages of a mobile device, since they are obvious. It will be about how to choose a processor for a laptop. This is an interesting topic, as there is a huge selection of models from different manufacturers with different chipsets on store windows. At the same time, they differ not only in the manufacturer (there are only two of them), but in the marking. You can, of course, trust the words of the seller when buying, but, most likely, after a while it turns out that the purchased device does not meet the goals that should be fulfilled. Therefore, a more logical solution would be to delve a little into the topic of choosing a CPU and draw specific conclusions based on the knowledge gained.

Main characteristics of the processor

It should be understood that the processor (CPU, chipset, CPU) is not the only important element in a laptop, but it is a key one. Essentially, this is device brain, he is responsible for the execution of all tasks. Even with high other indicators, a weak processor will not allow the gadget to show good performance.


Important! Changing the processor in a laptop is quite difficult. When a buyer is faced with the need to upgrade, many come to the logical conclusion that it is easier to buy a new device than to install a new chipset. It is for this reason that it is better to choose a high-quality CPU for a laptop than a large amount of RAM or a hard drive, because these nodes are easy to change.

To understand how to choose a processor for a laptop, you should consider key indicators:

  • manufacturing firm;
  • power consumption;
  • Number of Cores;
  • the amount of cache memory;
  • clock frequency.


To choose a processor for a laptop, you should carefully look at all of the above indicators when buying and find the best option. Below is detailed information about each of them.


In modern laptops, you can find processors from two main manufacturers — AMD or Intel. They own about 98% of the market. The remaining 2% account for little-known chipsets with indicators that cannot represent serious competition, as well as segmented models, for example, for military needs (Russian Baikal processor).


There is an opinion that Intel surpasses AMD in many criteria, and, as practice shows, this is true. Laptops with Intel chipsets run cooler, don’t make as much noise, consume less power, show better performance and multitasking. It should be understood that this is a fairly generalized opinion, since none of these brands is limited to a couple of chipsets, there are a huge number of them, every year a new generation appears, in which there are at least several dozen new models. Obviously, it is difficult to draw a single conclusion regarding manufacturers, since individual models can behave differently.

You should know that Intel processors are more expensivebut their price is justified. Some games are designed to work with Intel chipsets, which means that they simply will not start with AMD.

Interesting fact! Most gaming models with top parameters are based on Intel processors.

The disadvantage of the company is that the vast majority of chipsets impossible to overclockbut, on the other hand, they do not need it. AMD’s disadvantages include increased power consumption, as well as the slow operation of the second and third level cache memory, but at the same time they are cheaper. Sometimes this is an important criterion for the buyer.

Two processors

Advice! To buy a really powerful device, it is better to choose a CPU from Intel for a laptop. Not only sellers in stores agree with this, but also experts in this field. AMD chipsets are perfect for more budget gadgets and, depending on the tasks, can show themselves worthy.

Details about the lines of chipsets and their purpose will be discussed in the final part of this text.

Power consumption

The main advantage of the laptop is considered mobility and autonomy. The latter can be achieved with a low power consumption CPU. The conclusion is quite logical: the less energy the CPU consumes, the weaker it is. This conclusion is not only logical, but is a proven fact. However, don’t think that every laptop has a low-performance chipset by default. Both manufacturers have different lines of processors — with increased energy efficiency or, conversely, with an emphasis on power.

Processor and power consumption

It is important when buying to understand whether you need autonomy or power. A simple example: a consumer who is looking for a device for games will not have to use it in places where there is no outlet. It is obvious that he does not care how long the gadget runs on battery power, which means that in his case the appropriate type of processor is with high power. If the device is bought for work, and you have to move around a lot and use it while traveling, then the performance will cause fewer questions, and an important criterion is that the device works for a long time.

Important! When buying, it is not necessary to look for energy consumption figures for each chipset. Conclusions about its energy efficiency can be drawn from the labeling. More on this will be discussed below.

Number of Cores

The number of cores in a chipset is a point that many buyers misunderstand. In fact, it is the kernel that performs different tasks. Two cores perform twice as many tasks at the same time. It may seem that the more cores, the better. But in reality, everything is not so simple, and a large number of cores is not a guarantee of high efficiency.

Processor cores

In chipsets with more than two cores, there is a division of cores according to the type of tasks. To simplify, we can say that in a quad-core processor, the third and fourth cores have a narrow focus. For example, they are solely responsible for graphics. The buyer, who just needs to surf the Internet or chat on Skype, simply does not need the two remaining cores, they will be inactive, which means that he overpaid money for them in vain.

Second moment — core frequency. The processor can have four cores at 1.5 GHz, which gives a total of 6 GHz, or 2 cores at 3.2 GHz, which equals 6.4 GHz at the output, which means that the second option is better. In this case, in the first version, all the cores will not work together, that is, the final frequency will not even be 6 GHz, but less.

Cons of multi-core chipsets:

  • increased energy consumption;
  • idle cores if there are no specialized tasks for them;
  • higher cost.

Advice! Buying a processor with a large number of cores is worth it if the device is needed for games, graphics (designing, drawing, creating animations), programming. If the buyer pursues the simplest everyday tasks — the Internet, casual games, networking, movies, music, work in office applications, then the best choice would be a chipset with two cores, but with a sufficiently high frequency.

cache memory

What is a cache is an interesting and incomprehensible question for many. To some extent, it may resemble operational, but much smaller volume. This memory contains required information for the chipset. First, the processor goes to the cache memory, if there is no necessary data, then to the operational one.

cache level

The speed of the cache is much higher than that of RAM, which means that the information it stores is more necessary. The larger the cache, the faster the processor. This memory has three levels. The first is the smallest, but at the same time the fastest. The second has medium volume and medium speed. The third level is the largest and at the same time the slowest.

Important! The processor is better, the more it has a total cache. At the same time, a large cache increases the cost of the chipset, and it will heat up more.

In devices for office tasks, the cache is most often 2-3 MB, this is enough for comfortable work, and the device does not get very hot. In gaming systems, its volume can be 8 MB, and it is quite logical that cooling is more serious here, as is the final price.

CPU frequency

The last criterion on the list, but far from being the least important, is the frequency of the processor. This is the criterion that really affects the performance, and which should be given attention. The principle “the more the better” works here. Processor speed is a measure of how fast does it complete tasks.

Turbo boost technology

Modern laptops with high-end chipsets have technology that automatically adjusts the frequency. Intel calls it Turbo Boost, AMD calls it Core Boost. This is done in order to save energy and prevent the device from overheating. The gadget understands the type of task, and if it is not difficult, then it performs it at a low frequency, and when it feels the load, it intelligently raises the frequency to cope faster.

When buying, you should consider what indicator is indicated on the price tag. Usually sellers write maximum frequency, that is, the one that the laptop is capable of delivering under high load, but its continuous performance can be significantly lower. At the same time, the buyer does not plan to load the laptop, which means that it will simply never reach the highest frequency.

Advice! It is recommended to watch the clock frequency, base and maximum. To do this, just make a request in any search engine.

Example: two chipsets with a frequency of 2 GHz and 2.3 GHz. At the same time, the first one does not have frequency increase technology, while the second one has it and produces only 1.7 GHz without loads. The buyer needs a gadget to work in office applications. In this case, you should buy a device with 2 GHz, because otherwise it will not use the maximum 2.3 GHz of the second CPU, but 1.7 GHz, which are basic for it. If the buyer is going to play, then the second option should be chosen, since it will use all the power of the laptop, and the processor will produce the very necessary 2.3 GHz.

Processor lines and their purpose

So, the two main chipset manufacturers are AMD and Intel. How they differ was described above, but when comparing, you need to draw conclusions based on specific chipsets and their performance. AMD should not be dismissed by default, perhaps the available budget will allow you to buy the optimal solution for AMD, and not for Intel.


Both manufacturers have lines of chipsets that are updated every year. In this case, we are talking about generations. Obviously, the logical choice is to stop at a more recent generation, but it should be understood that a processor from a higher line, but older by one generation, may turn out to be better than from a younger line, but more recent.

Important! Within a particular line there are subdivisions, they are marked with markings. It depends on the type of laptop processor (energy efficient, mobile, productive) and the tasks it can handle.


Intel processors are divided into the following types:

  • Celeron;
  • Pentium;
  • Intel Atom;
  • Intel Core M;
  • Core i (i3, i5, i7, i9).

The first two types are low power class or for daily tasks. For the most part, these are dual-core chipsets without the technology for increasing the clock frequency and multi-threaded work (Hyper Treading). The latter means that if the CPU has two cores, but there is Hyper Treading, then it works like a quad-core.

Intel processor

Atom Series — These are chipsets designed for tablets and smartphones, but can be found in small laptops 11-14 inches. On average, the performance is similar to the Pentium and Celeron series.

Core M — a relatively fresh line. Chipsets with average performance, but reduced heat generation. Conventionally, they can be attributed to an intermediate version — from Pentium to Core i. Suitable for simple office tasks.

core i — the most productive line. The number after i increases the power. So, in the i line, the weakest is i3, the most powerful i9. The latest chipsets were announced in 2017, before that the top solutions were i7.

Each generation of chipsets has its own code name — Kaby Lake, Haswell and others. You should not bother yourself with these names, just remember that the first digit in the encoding is the generation designation. That is, the Core i7-7580H means that the chipset is the 7th generation, that is, relatively fresh. There are currently 9 generations.


The second point that you should know and it is recommended to remember is marking. Each chipset has letter suffix after numeric code. The decoding of the letter designations is given in the table:

Letter Meaning
Y Extremely low power consumption (11.5W)
U Low power consumption (15-28W)
M Mobile processor with average power and consumption (37-57 W)
Q Quad-core processor
H High graphics performance
X Top-of-the-line high performance solution designed for gamers
K Overclockable processor
HQ Quad-core processor with enhanced graphics


  • Y is the most autonomous solution for those who need to work for a long time without charging, but at low or medium power, often installed in ultra-thin laptops (ultrabooks);
  • U, M, Q — a medium variant with good autonomy and decent performance, a kind of universal chipset;
  • H — emphasis on graphics, suitable for artists, architects and users of similar professions;
  • K, HQ — game models;
  • X is an extreme gaming option for esports.


AMD chipsets also have multiple generations and lines. Generations are indicated by the first digit in the code. At present the latest generation of chipsets are labeled 9.

AMD processor

The AMD processor lines are listed below.

  1. AMD Ryzen is a new solution with a Vega graphics card. Regardless of the type of discrete graphics card, you can play and perform resource-intensive tasks.
  2. AMD Athlon Vega is integrated graphics, but the chipset is simpler than Ryzen, designed for everyday tasks and fast response.
  3. AMD A is a segment without an integrated graphics card for a variety of tasks. Within the series there is a division.
  4. AMD FX — gaming solutions without an integrated graphics card.
  5. AMD Ryzen Pro — best performance (gaming solutions, similar to core i9 series with X suffix).
  6. AMD Pro A chipsets for business.
  7. AMD E — budget solutions for the simplest tasks.

AMD A series division:

  • AMD A12 — high multitasking, emphasis on high-definition video streaming and online gaming;
  • AMD A10 — energy efficient, high multitasking, HD content playback offline;
  • AMD A9 — good performance with an emphasis on multimedia tasks;
  • AMD A8 — multitasking and entertainment without focusing on games;
  • AMD A6, A4 — simple office tasks.

Dealing with AMD processors is not easy, but in most cases, users are faced with the A, E and FX series. The remaining chipsets, due to their novelty, are not widely used.

Advice! You should not consider the E line, since even basic tasks for them are problematic. Other CPUs behave decently with the right choice depending on the tasks.


To choose the right processor, it is important to know exactly the tasks with which it will have to cope. After that, it remains to decide on the budget, which will largely affect the choice of manufacturer. Further choice is formed by frequency, power consumption, cache size, number of cores.


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