CPU and System Performance


Clock Speed

  • This is the number of instructions a single processor core can carry out per second (Hz). For most desktop computers, this will be somewhere around 3.5 GHz (3.5 billion instructions per second).
  • The higher the clock speed, the greater the number of instructions that can be carriedd out per second.
  • Some CPUs can be overclocked to make then run at a higher clock speed than the factory-set rate. But it's risky if not done properly - it can make CPUs overheat, causing crashes or permanent damage to the system. High performance cooling systems are usually needed.
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Number of Cores

  • Each core in a CPU can process data independently of rest.
  • The more cores a CPU has, the more instructions it can carry out at once, so the faster it can process a batch of data.
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Cache Size

  • The Cache is data stored inside the CPU that's much faster than RAM.
  • A larger CPU cache gives the CPU faster access to more data it needs to process.
  • Generally speaking, CPUs with higher clock speeds, more cores or larger caches will have better performance, but will also be more expensive.
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More RAM

  • If a computer has too little RAM it may run slowly due to the use of virtual memory.
  • The more RAM, the more applications or more memory intensive applications it can smoothly run, making it faster overall.
  • It's easy to upgrade RAM on a PC or laptop - it's just a matter of replacing the RAM stick with higher capacity (or higher speed) ones.
  • If the computer already has plenty of RAM to run everything the user wants, increasing RAM may make no difference to performance.
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  • GPUs (graphics processing units) are specialised circuits for handling graphics and image proccessing. They  relieve the processing load on the CPU, freeing it to do other things.
  • Computers have basic GPUs integrated onto the motherboard or the CPU. For better graphics performance, a dedicated GPU is often used.
  • Using high-end graphics cards can greatly improve performance in graphics-intensive applications.
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