2012-2013 Processor Guide
Specifications effective July 1, 2012
Specifications will be reviewed and updated as appropriate.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) has developed this page to help Local Support Providers (LSPs) understand the many processor choices currently available. This guide does not cover enthusiast, workstation, or server processors.
ISC currently tracks seven different lines of processors. In most cases, processor speed is no longer considered important, but the class of processor (such Core i5, Core i7, etc.) and the size of the cache is.
Atom: Intel's low-end and low-power dual core processor, available on netbooks and low-powered desktops. Actual processor speed is still important with this processor.
Core i3: Intel's low-end to mid-range dual core processors, available on notebooks and desktops. Current versions of the i3 have Intel HD graphics on-chip.
Core i5: Intel's mid-range to high-end dual and quad core processors, available on notebooks and desktops. Currently the center of the market. Current versions of the i5 have Intel HD graphics on-chip.
Core i7: Intel's highest-end quad core processors, available on notebooks and desktops. Current versions of the i7 have Intel HD graphics on-chip.
A6/A8: AMD's all-purpose (APU) processor, available on notebook, netbook, ultra-small desktop, and low-end desktop designs. Actual processor speed is still important with this processor. Unlike the Athlon II and Phenom II products, the A-series processers have integrated AMD Radeon graphics on-chip.
Athlon II: AMD's family of multi-core processors spanning from low to mid-range. There are 2, 3, and 4 core options. They are the most current offerings bearing the Athlon name.
Phenom II: AMD's family of multi-core processors spanning from mid-range to high-end. There are 2, 3, 4, and 6 core options available. They are the successor to the original Phenom.
ISC suggests Core i5, Core i7, and Phenom II processors for Performance PCs while suggesting Core i3 and Athlon II processors for Value PCs. Notebook suggestions range from Core i3s on the low-end to Core i5s and Core i7s on the mid and high-end - almost all notebook users will be well served by the Core i5.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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