The original IBM PC came with any CPU you wanted, so long as it was an Intel 8088. Today, just as you can get a car in just about any color you want, it seems like there’s an almost endless array of CPU options. Intel and AMD are competing so hard and introducing new product so fast that it’s next to impossible to keep up.
Consider some of your options from Intel alone. Just on the desktop, from the Intel Celeron D to the Core 2 Extreme you can choose from seven different CPU types. Within the Pentium D processor family, there are 12 different speeds. That’s not counting the additional six additional mobile processor, six server processor families, and the number of flavors of each.
With AMD, it’s not any less confusing. AMD has four different desktop processor families and five for mobile computers. At least there’s only one choice when it comes to servers, but when you look at one model line like the Athlon 64 X2 dual-core CPU, there are 13 individual flavors of the CPU.
PC makers such as Dell and HP help somewhat by making most of the choices for you. They don’t offer every single CPU choice in their models. Even when you have the option of customizing the CPU in a unit, you only have limited selection of CPUs. This helps minimize the confusion somewhat, but you still need to know the difference in CPU types when comparing models from different makers. Like hard drive sizes, amount of RAM and video card selections, CPUs are now included in the pricing shell game. By shuffling components around a little, one manufacturer can “match” the price of another machine, but the performance may differ wildly.
It’s next to impossible to remember all of the different CPU types like you could way back in the 20th century. But at the same time, processors are increasing speed at an exponential rate.
This is where it comes in handy to standardize your purchases for your organization. Pick an individual model that meets your needs and then forget about it. Buy as many of those units as possible, and then start the process over again next year.