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How do I Choose the Best Laptop Processor?

By K. Schurman
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best laptop processor requires a little bit of research and some careful consideration. Laptop computers often run from batteries, meaning the processors that run them need to include power conservation features. A processor, also called a microprocessor or a central processing unit (CPU), is the chip that runs the computer, handling processing of instructions. The best laptop processor for you depends in large part on the type of work that will be done with the laptop computer.

Laptop computers, also called notebooks, are personal computers that are designed to be mobile. In most cases, a laptop computer is not quite as powerful as a desktop computer. A laptop processor follows that trend, because it usually isn't quite as powerful as a processor found in a desktop computer.

The type of work that you will be doing with the laptop computer will have a strong impact on the processor you choose. Those who need to perform high-end video processing or gaming will want to select a laptop processor that is as powerful as possible, containing multiple cores and a fast processing speed. Such laptops will be larger units, because they require more space to cool the processor. If you just want a laptop that can perform basic computing functions, run standard office software, and browse the Internet, you don't need a top-of-the-line processor.

A laptop processor must run a little slower and require a little less power than a desktop processor for a few reasons. If the notebook is running from battery power, a power-hungry laptop processor would drain the battery too quickly. A laptop processor that runs fast typically will generate a lot of heat. Laptops are thin units, and they don't have the depth for large cooling components, such as a heatsink and a large fan. If a laptop did have room for a complex cooling system for the laptop processor, it would drain the battery even more, making it an inefficient use of battery power.

The good news for someone shopping for a laptop computer is that laptop manufacturers take all of these potential problems into consideration when designing a laptop. Only processors that work well in a laptop are installed. A consumer doesn't have to worry about heat problems and power drain because of the processor.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Melonlity — On Apr 18, 2014

@Soulfox -- some of the newer laptops don't force you to sacrifice speed for energy efficiency. Big batteries, lower power consumption of components and other things make laptops a lot more efficient than they used to be. In other words, you can have a four-core, monster CPU under the hood and still expect to squeeze four or so hours of use on battery.

By Soulfox — On Apr 17, 2014

The challenge for people looking for laptops has to do with finding the right balance between speed and power consumption. For people who keep their laptops plugged in almost all the time, energy efficiency isn't as much of a concern. For those who use laptops on the road a lot, power consumption is a huge deal.

That might sound odd, but the trend is for people to use laptops as desktop replacements -- they are almost always plugged in and are mobile rarely. Those folks primarily want the speed of a desktop in a package that can be mobile just now and then.

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