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Today, comparing processors is obviously not just looking at the frequency and the number of cores.

When choosing a new PC, how do you compare processors? Is there some resource, like a site or something that does (not necessarily super-precise) processor comparisons?

Thanks.

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Of course, another thing to keep in mind is that most processors today are more powerful than what any normal (or even a lot of power) users need. –  nhinkle Oct 8 '10 at 5:14
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Tom's Hardware is where I usually go when looking for benchmarks. They have many cross-manufacturer and cross-architecture benchmarks, which really helps to compare processors where it would otherwise be apples to oranges. While they tend to be a bit more gaming-focused, they do run the usual array of generic benchmarks. Googling around for additional benchmarks is my next resource if I'm still on the fence.

The problem is beyond benchmarks, there's still several things which are hard to quantify (such as the ability to over-clock. I absolutely love Intel's Core i7 series, because I know that I can take the 2.6GHz processor up to somewhere in the 3.8-4.2GHz range with minimal work). I compensate for this as best I can by simply keeping my interactions with different processors varied (using them at school labs, specialized labs, etc.) to discover architectures that perform well across the board. If you look on the other side of things, you're more than likely to replace the processor in a year or 3, so barring any actual problems with the processor, slightly-less-than-optimal-performance-than-what-you-could-have-gotten is not something you have to live with long-term.

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+1 for Tom's hardware –  Shinrai Oct 8 '10 at 14:50
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I usually just use Passmark's CPU benchmark comparison chart. It's text, so it's easy to search for what you need and is updated frequently. It even shows mobile CPUs to help compare laptops.

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If you're looking at Intel processors, they maintain a database of all their processors, which you can compare side-by-side to see detailed specs. While it's not very useful for getting actual performance data, it's nice for seeing what the little differences are between different models. For example, people often wonder whether it's worthwhile to upgrade from a Core i3-37-m to an i5-450m. By looking in the ARK Database, you can see that the only significant difference is the lack of turboboost in the i3.

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There are a few good ones posted here already - I'd add AnandTech's benchmarks, which are good for more than just processors.

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