The CPU in a laptop remains an important factor in its performance and battery life. The gap between the quickest and slowest processors on the market is significant, so you’ll want to make sure that you purchase a product equipped with the right choice.
For most users, Intel’s mainstream second-generation Core i3 and Core i5 processors are the best option. These processors are designated by the Core i3/i5 brand name, followed by a four-digit numerical identifier. If there is only a three-digit numerical identifier, then you’re looking at a first-generation Core i3/i5. At this point, I don’t see much reason to purchase one of those.
The second-generation Core i3/i5 is extremely quick, includes an adequate integrated graphics processor (IGP) that can play most 3D games at low detail settings, and is power efficient. It’s simply the best combination of traits for most buyers.
One alternative in the mainstream market is the AMD A-Series Fusion APUs. Like Intel’s Core i3/i5, these are processors that include an IGP as part of the architecture, but AMD’s version is a bit more powerful than what is usually found on comparably priced Intel processors. The downside to the AMD A-Series is poor core CPU performance. Battery life seems equivalent to what Intel offers.
Those who need an extremely powerful laptop should consider the second-gen Intel Core i7 quad-core. This is the most powerful laptop processor that can be purchased today. In benchmarks that make proper use of the additional cores, it is almost twice as quick as a Core i5. Battery life does suffer a bit, but it’s still possible to obtain four hours of endurance from many Core i7 quad-core laptops. The real downside is simply price.
Finally, we have the netbook processors. Atom is still popular in netbooks because it is cheap to buy and offers amazing battery life, with many netbooks offering over eight hours. The downside is graphics performance – Atom based netbooks have none. AMD offers an alternative in the C-series and E-series APUs, which are actually capable of playing older 3D games at low detail settings as well as 720p Flash video, but most netbooks with these processors have closer to six hours of battery life. Pricing is not substantially different between these competitors.