Whether you're buying a prebuilt computer or you're building your own computer you will undoubtedly need to choose what CPU you want. Not only will you have to choose a CPU but often your choice of CPU will dictate everything about your computer purchase. When you choose your CPU you will be determining the requirements, capabilities and the price that your computer will cost. No other single component has a greater impact on your computer than the CPU.
Now that we've established why choosing the right CPU is so important, it's now time to figure out the best way to go about this choice.
To choose the right CPU for you, the first step is to determine what you want to use your computer for. You don't need a super expensive quad core CPU if you are just going to type word documents but at the same time you don't want to just get a cheap CPU that will be obsolete in a year. The challenge here is finding the right balance between overkill and buying a CPU that will be out of date. Sit down and make a list of the tasks, programs and games that you will want to run and then determine if you're going to do these tasks at the same time or if you will likely just do one thing at a time. You can now take this list and checkout the recommend specs for you programs online. If there is a specific task that is really slow on your computer look that task up and see what component in your computer is much lower than the recommend specs, this way you'll know what to focus on in the new computer. This brings us to our second step, price.
Just as important as the performance of the CPU, the price of the CPU will likely determine the right CPU for you. Most people don't have an unlimited budget and because of this you will need to balance the performance of the CPU with the price to determine the right CPU for you. The simplest way to do this is to compare the price difference between processors to their clock speed difference. This comparison will only work between processors in the same family since clock speed is not the only factor that influences the actual performance of a CPU. What I suggest is that you look for the point where an X% increase in price yields a dramatically lower Y% increase in clock speed. There is usually a point where you will have to pay a lot more money to get a tiny bit more performance.
Finally you will have to verify that the CPU you choose is available at your favorite computer manufacturer or that there is a motherboard available that you would want to use if building your own computer. It is sometimes the case that I will choose to go with a CPU because it is a little bit cheaper than a competing CPU but I then discover that I like a motherboard for the competing CPU more and end up switching. This is likely to happen to you and is a good reason why you must also consider the computer manufacturers and motherboards while choosing the right CPU for you!
Save Your Greenbacks list of the Best Cheap CPU's has a great list of cheap CPU's that are all under $99 and that would make the right CPU for most people. You can also checkout the main page of Save Your Greenbacks for great computer and technology deals!