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Shop a Wide Variety of Intel Processors

Whether you are buying a prebuilt PC or designing your ideal gaming computer from scratch, you will undoubtedly find yourself comparing computer processors, also known as CPUs. Intel processors are a great place to start. As one of the primary manufacturers of processors, Intel makes high quality, reliable options that you will see in some of the top machines in the world by Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and more.

Choosing Your Intel CPU

The processor is one of the most important parts of any computer. Some processors can even handle graphics processing and display without the need for a dedicated graphics card.

Processors are available from the two major brands, and while they serve the same purpose, they are not interchangeable. Motherboards require a particular socket in order to use a CPU, and matching a processor to the proper socket is key to component compatibility.

While other components such as RAM and data storage help to determine the overall power of your PC, ultimately, the CPU is the limiting factor in PC performance. You could have the most powerful graphics card on the market, but if your CPU doesn't match the other components in your build, your performance will always be limited.

Intel processors have a wide range of available sockets, including LGA sockets and chipsets. This makes Intel based systems incredibly customizable and viable for almost any build. Intel CPUs are excellent processors for gaming or streaming because of their robust features and power.

The Most Popular Intel Processors

At Micro Center, we take pride in providing you with the latest and most popular Intel processors, including their cutting edge 14th gen Raptor Lake processor. If you are seeking reliable performance, you will find the perfect solution in the Intel Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processors, offering 6, 8, 10, or 12 cores to cater to your specific requirements. When speed and top notch performance are paramount for your laptop or desktop, opt for the higher core count processors, such as the i7 or i9.

These two processor families also extend to the 12th and 13th generations, known as Alder Lake and Raptor Lake, respectively. Understanding the differences between the two can help you choose the ideal processor. Alder Lake, the newer of the two, boasts the cutting edge Golden Cove Core architecture, while Raptor Lake utilizes the Raptor Cove performance cores and Gracemont efficiency cores. Both Alder Lake and Raptor Lake processors are compatible with the LGA 1700 / 1800 socket.

The Most Powerful Intel Processors

For those who demand the utmost processing power, we offer Intel Xeon and Intel Core i9 options. The Intel Xeon processors are a favored choice for high performance computing, delivering optimized performance tailored for data centers and high capacity workloads. Ideal for data centers, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, edge computing, workstations, and more, the Xeon series is the epitome of quality for enterprise grade computing.

The Intel Core i9 processors, on the other hand, are an excellent choice for individuals who seek exceptional performance in both desktops and laptops. These processors are some of Intel's highest performing CPUs, delivering the power you need for demanding tasks and applications. Plus, keep an eye out for Intel's latest 14th gen processor, Raptor Lake, to experience cutting edge technology that pushes the boundaries of performance even further.

Integrated Graphics

Some Intel CPUs come with integrated graphics - these are great for those who want a built in graphics option. F-series Intel processors - those that have an F at the end of the name - do not have integrated graphics, and require use of a discrete graphics card.

CPU Motherboard Bundles

When building a computer, finding a compatible CPU and motherboard can be a hassle. CPU Motherboard Bundles can help to ease the stress of purchasing components by highlighting compatibility between the two. Another benefit of Intel CPU Motherboard Bundles is that they come at a reduced cost, saving you money for other areas of your build. If you have more questions about component compatibility or need some help with your next build, you can always use Micro Center's Custom PC Builder tool or computer build guides available from Micro Center.

Choosing a CPU

Your Central Processing Unit - also referred to as your processor or CPU - acts as the mastermind of your computer. The CPU processes thousands of instructions and calculations per second that happen inside a computer, with a speed measured in gigahertz (GHz). Thus, your CPU provides a great deal of the computational power behind everything from creating graphics in PC games to executing functions on Excel spreadsheets.

Other components such as RAM and GPUs help determine a computer's overall power. However, the CPU is ultimately the priority factor in your PCs performance. A CPU with sufficient processing power is important for avoiding the CPU bottleneck phenomenon, which can limit the performance of other hardware, such as your GPU. That is why selecting your CPU is a major decision, and why it is so important to have a wide selection of CPU models to choose from.

Computer processors are available from two major brands: AMD and Intel. Both offer cutting edge processing technologies in their latest and most powerful incarnations, including Intel 14th Gen and AMD Ryzen Zen 4. Coming as early as 2024, AMD will be releasing Zen 5. Both Intel and AMD offer a wide range of entry and mid level CPU options. Both companies use the same architecture, and their product series are named using a similar numbering scheme.

That said, the two brands are not interchangeable. Motherboards only support particular processors, making it very important to be mindful of component compatibility when building a PC. By choosing a processor first, you are setting up the foundation of your PC and eliminating much of the guesswork on your other PC components.

Ultimately, the best CPU for you will depend on your individual needs and budget.

What Do You Need From Your CPU?

The number of cores in a CPU plays a major role in determining its performance. For entry level PCs a quad or six core CPU may be all you need - for power users, we have options between 8 and 64 cores. Note that many processors now also include threading technologies - such as Intel's hyper threading and AMD's simultaneous multi threading - which create multiple logical threads within the same physical CPU core, greatly increasing the CPU's efficiency and parallel processing capability. Multi threaded CPUs are perfect for digital artists, gamers, streamers and anyone else who needs their machine to handle multiple simultaneous apps and processes with no sweat.

As previously noted, you may have the best graphics card on the market, but if you don't pair it with the appropriate CPU, you might not see the full potential of your GPU. However, the best CPU for gaming may not necessarily be the most powerful. When it comes to gaming, CPUs don't need to be the most powerful because the graphics card handles the majority of the workload for video encoding. Instead, gaming CPUs are designed to work with modern graphics cards to create high quality gaming experiences without steep initial costs.

Top of the line mobile and desktop processors can be higher in cost and are typically reserved for such professional tasks as advanced simulations or high resolution renderings. This is why you will often find the most high powered processors used in workstations and applications such as professional 4k video editing. Additionally, if you are planning on doing any streaming or content creation, it may be worth getting a slightly more powerful processor than you initially need, or one with integrated graphics.

Matching Your CPU and Other Computer Hardware

Finding a processor and compatible hardware can be challenging and time consuming when building a computer. CPU Motherboard Combos help alleviate the stress of component purchases and highlight part compatibility while saving money on initial costs.

On top of finding a compatible motherboard for your processor, you will need to find a CPU cooler that fits both components and your PC case. Luckily, some processors come with included coolers that ensure compatibility and provide quality performance for no additional costs. Both AMD's Wraith Stealth Cooler technology and Intel's stock cooling units can offer sufficient performance. However, when buying a separate CPU cooler, be sure to check the socket compatibility to make sure it matches your motherboard's socket and will work with your build.

Browse our whole selection of Intel and AMD processors right here. If you have more questions about component compatibility or need some help with your next build, you can always use our Micro Center Custom PC Builder.

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