It's not quite as soul-wrenching as buying a new car, but it's close: Picking a CPU for your desktop PC(s) is a decision you'll be living with for years, so whether you're buying for yourself or for a company, it's important that you make the right choice the first time.
In recent years, the decision has become even more complex. AMD's success has doubled the number of choices you have to make, and that's just the beginning of the headache. Intel recently switched from a clock-speed-oriented naming convention to a model-number system similar to AMD's (and BMW's, but that's a whole other story). And this summer both chipmakers launched brand new lines of dual-core desktop CPUs that promise to improve multi-tasking desktop performance by leaps and bounds.
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But do you really need leaps and bounds? As always, that depends on what kinds of tasks you and/or your users employ their desktop PCs for. Regardless, CPUs aren't cheap, so it's important you understand what your needs are before you execute.
To help you make this critical decision, we've put together a comprehensive buyer's guide to both Intel's and AMD's lineups. We'll explore all currently available processors in four different categories, from performance processors to the high-end, mid-range, and value categories. We have specs, prices, and pertinent performance information.
We also have a quick-hitting CPU Buyer's Q&A that will assist you in your decision-making process by answering critical questions about Intel's new naming convention, future considerations, and more.
AMD Processors: Athlon 64 FX-57, Athlon 64 X2 4800+, Athlon 64 X2 4600+, Athlon 64 FX-55
Intel Processors: Pentium Extreme Edition 840, Pentium 4 670