What does the CPU scheduling algorithm do

Upgrading CPU and mainboard - what do you have to consider?

Andreas Hitzig

The processor has a major influence on the performance of your PC. We'll show you how to swap it and when it makes sense to swap the mainboard at the same time.

EnlargeWith tools like CPU-Z you can determine your current CPU, the socket and the central performance values. This gives you all the information you need for your upgrade planning from a single source.
© iStockphoto.com/Ludinko

In the first performance tests you got an overall picture of your computer. The next step is to examine this more closely at the level of the individual components. It starts with the CPU, i.e. the processor of your PC. As soon as a further improvement in performance is needed, the mainboard automatically comes into play. More on this in the course of the workshop.

Determine the current status

At the beginning it is important that you get an overview of the current status of your processor and your mainboard. If, despite your analyzes and benchmarks, you still do not have enough detailed information, use the CPU-Z program. With its help you can find out all the central data of your processor.

The manufacturer of the CPU, the model name and the socket are of particular importance for the next steps. You can find these in the fields "Name" and "Package".

If you want to upgrade your computer later, it is also important to find out more about the existing motherboard. Like the processor socket, this has a central influence on the maximum expansion level.

CPU - some basics

So that upgrading a CPU within an existing mainboard is worthwhile, a significant performance leap must be possible. Otherwise, we recommend that you also replace the main board at this point. Under certain circumstances, this can also have a direct influence on your existing main memory. More on this later in this article.

The performance of a CPU is influenced by several general factors. This includes the number of cores, the clock frequency or the production generation.

A multi-core processor has more than one complete main processor core in one chip. This enables him to process several actions completely independently of one another. As a result, the processing is logically much faster. Current processors such as the Intel i7-5960X or the AMD FX-9590 have a total of eight processor cores. However, this is also noticeable in terms of price and should be taken into account when purchasing. The drop in prices is particularly noticeable in the upper performance segment.

EnlargeYou can directly compare different CPUs and their performance values ​​with one another on the Passmark website.

The clock frequency determines how many commands are processed per second. The production generation finally comes from the manufacturer and gives its name to a generation of processors. At AMD, the series only get cryptic names and are called FX processors, for example, at Intel these are more descriptive. The current generation of processors is called Haswell and Haswell E.

Upgrade recommendation

In order for an upgrade to be worthwhile, the new processor should meet at least one of the following three conditions:

  • The number of processor cores can be doubled.

  • The clock frequency can be increased by at least 1000 MHz or

  • You get a processor of the next processor generation.

In the event that this analysis is too cumbersome for you, you can of course also fall back on the direct performance values, for example in the CPU index from Passmark.

At this point you get the absolute performance values ​​of each CPU and see exactly how they relate to each other. However, this test does not show a complete view of the performance of a CPU, but only the performance in a certain selection of tests that are determined with the "Performance" software.

This gives you an initial indication of where your current CPU is in terms of performance compared to the latest model. A current price in US dollars is also given. This also allows you to roughly estimate how much money you should plan for a sensible upgrade.

Set the optimal CPU utilization for each tool

What does your mainboard allow?

If you want to keep the effort as low as possible and only replace the processor, then the way is a little different. First, find out for which processors your mainboard provides the necessary support. If you already know which mainboard is doing its job in your computer, you can go directly to the manufacturer's website. Otherwise, use the previously installed CPU-Z and call up the “Mainboard” tab. At this point you can see the manufacturer, the type and the chipset for a branded board.

With this information, it is usually easy to find the appropriate manufacturer's website and the current specifications of the mainboard using a search engine. Most manufacturers give an exact overview of which processors and which memory are supported. In this context, please also check whether you are using the latest version of the BIOS. A BIOS update is sometimes required, especially for the operation of newer processors. Your installed BIOS version also tells you CPU-Z on the “Mainboard” tab. You then compare this information with the latest BIOS in the download area. If there is a newer BIOS, install it before upgrading the processor.

EnlargeBefore buying a CPU, check whether you can also use it in your mainboard.

So you have all the facts at hand: You know your current processor and its performance values. You can see from the compatibility list whether there is a CPU that meets your performance requirements. Once you have found this, the next step is to replace the CPU. In all other cases, you should first find out about replacing the existing mainboard and the CPU.

Intel or AMD

Once you start thinking about getting a new motherboard, the first question to answer is, which processor manufacturer: Intel or AMD? The two providers make up the market among themselves. They have no serious competition in the desktop area.

In the desktop area, Intel has the lead in the benchmarks from the middle price segment. In the performance class up to 200 euros you get a competitive alternative from AMD and often even more performance for your money. At this point the most important thing is what you ultimately plan to do with your computer.

CPU with graphics card

You will certainly come across CPUs with an integrated graphics unit during your research. These are very common today, especially in entry-level notebooks. With a desktop PC, however, you usually have enough free slots and the costs for an entry-level graphics card are limited. You can get a decent graphics card like the GT610 from Nvidia for around 45 euros, depending on the manufacturer. This gives you significantly more flexibility and a full graphics card.

Overclock the CPU

If you still plan to overclock your CPU afterwards, this can also be a criterion for the purchase decision. Of course, almost every CPU can be made to perform better by increasing the voltage and changing the clock rate. You can find out more about this in our practical article starting on page 20. In addition, Intel and AMD also offer special processor families for which this is already provided. Corresponding information can be found on the Intel and AMD websites.