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CPU stands for Central Processor Unit. This is also commonly called 'Processor'. This is the main brain of the computer, and it coordinates the input and output of computer activities and processes. The speed with which the tasks are carried out depends on how fast the processor or CPU is. The speed is measured in Megahertz (MHz) or Gigahertz (GHz). The higher the MHz or GHz the faster the computer will perform tasks.

There are two well known brands of processors in the computer market, Intel processor and AMD processor. Each brand has its own hierarchy of speed levels and acronyms. For instance, Intel goes from Intel Pentium I to Pentium IV, and the later is faster than Pentium I. AMD also has its hierarchy, namely AMD Athlon, AMD Athlon X2, AMD Phenom II, X3, X4, AMD Phenon X4 being faster than Athlon.

Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) request a certain level of Processor speed is available on your computer, in order to use their Broadband. Therefore, a modest computer for basic home or individual use should have 1.5 to 3.0 GHz CPU or Processor speed. Lower speed than this would not be recommended nowadays, especially as we all want to use our computer for surfing the Internet.

Tip on CPUs:

A CPU can be upgraded, for example from Intel Pentium II to Pentium IV. But bear in mind that, the Motherboard on to which the CPU is fitted should be capable of receiving the upgrades-some motherboards can only be upgraded up to certain levels. It is therefore important, to check the specification of the motherboard should you have plans to upgrade in the future. Unlike of upgrading the RAM, upgrading the CPU involves a complete replacement of the old one, which means, you will waste the old one, unless you would be able to recover some of the cost by selling it to the second-user market. Therefore think before you decide which speed you want to buy, and if the difference in choosing between the lower and the higher speed is of minimum cost, I would advise to go for it, instead of throwing away the old CPU at later dates.

Updated: 10 Dec 2011

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Yohannes Berhe