Computer Processor





The computer processor - or the CPU (Central

processing unit) is "the brain" of your computer.





Together with the memory (RAM) the CPU

determines the "thinking speed" of your computer.



What you need to know about CPUs when you build computers is:


  • CPU brand (i.e. Intel P4 CPUs demand a particular power supply)

  • The clock speed of the CPU (MHz)

  • Motherboard compatibility (i.e. Socket number, FSB speed)

I would recommend deciding on what kind of computer processor you want before buying the motherboard, since the CPU is such an important part when building a powerful computer.


When you have chosen your desired CPU, you can choose a motherboard that fits.


Processors come in many brands, types and speeds and sometimes it might be confusing to choose the one exactly for your needs.


A general rule when it comes to graphics, video and in this case, music recording, you can never really get enough of processor speed. All of the above forces the computer to do some heavy calculations and it's a drain on system resources.


So what kind of CPU should you get?


One piece of advice here first. The newest and the fastest computer processor available are usually twice as expensive as the second newest and fastest. Keep that in mind!



If you build a recording studio and you're setting up a computer for recording and mixing audio and midi, you should get a CPU of at least 2.0 GHz or higher. Actually the higher the better.



AMD or Intel?


Basically I would say it's a matter of personal preference. I have used both brands in my computers and I can recommend both, but a couple of notes though:

  • AMD CPUs tend to build more heat than Intel CPUs, so if you have isolated your computer case with pads for noise reduction, you might want to keep that in mind. You would generally need a bigger cooling fan which produces more noise.

  • Some people have experienced CPU "spikes" (the CPU strikes out at 100% usage for no apparent reason) with some Intel P4 CPUs when recording audio with certain recording software (I haven't had that experience using Cubase SX with a 2.0 GHz P4 CPU)


Some heat will build in the computer processor no matter what type or brand it is, so you would need some kind of cooling fan or heat sink.


If the description of the processor you buy says it's "boxed" then it comes with a cooling fan and/or heat sink developed specifically for that type of computer processor.


Intel CPUs are commonly "boxed", but AMDs are not that commonly shipped with a cooling fan.


If you have to buy this separately, keep in mind the noise level in your environment (i.e. recording studio), and go as quiet as possible.



  • As fast a computer processor as you can afford: 2.0 GHz and up.

  •  The brand of your personal preference keeping in mind the facts above.

  •  Making sure the computer processor is provided with proper (and as quiet as possible) cooling.




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