When looking for a new computer, we naturally try to compare the different models to identify the fastest: what criteria should we use?
Updated 01/10/2019 with examples of recent hardware and clarification on NVMe SSD format.
To understand how a computer actually works, you first have to understand the roles of each element , from the processor to the hard drive – including the graphics card and the power supply.
But when you want a reactive device precisely, you have to focus your attention on very specific criteria. Indeed, certain components influence much more than others on the efficiency of the machine, and therefore on the speed as well as the overall fluidity.
Hard drive or SSD
In this article, we will come back to the main parts to examine in order to know whether the computer in question will be fast enough or not. For each of them, we will give you some indications to guide you in your purchases.
1. The processor: several pieces of information to consider
Different parameters characterize a processor, starting with the number of cores. Today, the “Dual-Core” version, with two cores, already makes it possible to perform several tasks simultaneously without losing responsiveness. But to go further and use greedy software (photo editing, audio processing), the presence of four cores (“Quad Core”) is preferable, knowing that there are parallel eight-core models.
Expressed in GHz, frequency is also important. The higher it is, the better the performance. However, we now agree on a simple principle: it is better to favor a processor with an additional number of cores. Indeed, at identical frequencies, the number of cores remains the most important criterion for speed.
In the field of processors, two brands are fighting on the market: Intel and AMD. Regarding Intel processors, the “Pentium” and “Celeron Dual-Core” models are suitable for office use, while the i3, i5, i7, or i9 (at least to the most powerful) are preferred for use. versatile.
When it comes to AMD, the Ryzen 5 and 7 models compete with the i3, i5, and i7. Up to 4 cores, the Ryzen 3 still holds the road for complex use. In addition, AMD has developed specific Ryzen Threadripper processors for gamers, up to 24 cores, which rank in the very high end.
2. RAM: it’s not just the numbers that count
Expressed in Gigabytes, RAM stores all the tasks in progress on the computer. The more efficient it is, the faster the interface will be… But this cannot be measured only with numbers! For example, rather than installing a 16 GB bar, it is better to put two 8 GB: you will have the same power, but the interface will be smoother if it is based on a dual-use of RAM.
It should also be known that there are two types of RAM, one being the improvement of the first: DDR3 and DDR4. DDR4 RAM is deemed to be more efficient, but also less energy-intensive, which limits overheating. However, DDR4 is not yet compatible with all configurations, and we can still easily be satisfied with the DDR3 system.
Finally, the greater the capacity of the RAM, the faster the computer will be. Do not hesitate to inquire before the purchase to know if you can add new bars for more power. Sometimes it costs less to buy a model that natively has less RAM, and then makes the change yourself.
3. The hard drive: a different analysis depending on its nature
For many years, rotational speed was the main criterion for choosing your hard drive: for versatile use, a minimum of 7200 rpm is required.
But you should also think about looking at the cache memory, which refers to the amount of potentially reusable data that the device can store. Ideally, for classic use, you need at least 16 MB of cache, in order to maintain a minimum of comfort.
Today, more modern SSD hard drives are becoming more common on the market. They are becoming accessible because their price has dropped considerably in a few years. Operating without any mechanics, they are shock-resistant – and above all much faster. Some computers have a traditional hard drive for storage and an SSD for the system: this already allows you to enjoy more fluid use on a daily basis. On the other hand, SSDs in NVMe format also makes it possible to gain in reactivity and take up less space in the machine.
4. The graphics card: essential for gamers and video pros
For all video game enthusiasts or professionals working in video or photographic creation, an excellent graphics card is needed in the computer. It is one of the most competitive components, as it keeps releasing new models – and one quickly becomes obsolete, even with a recent computer.
Several elements will help you select your graphics card: frequency, memory and consumption. If you choose a very sophisticated model, you will also have to bet on a beautiful screen, otherwise you will not enjoy the performance of the room.
It is not possible to determine which is the best processor or which will be the most efficient hard drive: it all depends on the use of each person, their needs and their budget. So, to choose your computer well, you must understand the role of each element, but also put it in perspective with what you are looking for precisely. Do not hesitate to ask the opinion of the community in our advice forum before purchasing equipment or to consult our different configurations for office automation, multimedia or video games.