When looking at CPUs the most important specs are:
- Cores: The ‘brain’ of a processor, a Core is capable of working on one discrete task while the other core(s) does something else. Most laptop CPUs have two cores, but some of the higher-performance models have four cores. With 8th Gen Core, mainstream Core i5 and Core i7 laptops will now have four cores also.
- Hyper-Threading: A process where the CPU splits each physical Core into virtual Cores called threads. Most of Intel’s dual-core CPUs use hyper-threading to provide four threads while its quad-core CPUs provide eight threads.
- Clock Speed: The clock rate typically refers to the frequency at which a chip like a central processing unit (CPU), one core of a multi-core processor, is running and is used as an indicator of the processor’s speed. It is measured in clock cycles per second or its equivalent, the speed of modern CPUs is commonly advertised in gigahertz (GHz).
- Turbo Boost: The base CPU frequency is usually listed first and a turbo frequency is listed after. This turbo boost temporarily raises the clock speed from its base frequency to a higher one in order to complete a task more quickly. The laptop cannot maintain this turbo state as it would overheat the CPU.
- Cache: A small amount of RAM that lives directly on the CPU die, the cache stores frequently used information to speed up repetitive tasks. Most CPUs have between 1 and 4MB of cache.
- TDP (Thermal Design Power): The amount of watts the CPU uses. More watts means more power which leads to better better performance. The draw back of more power is greater power consumption which leads to higher temperatures.