Understanding the Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The Central Processing Unit, or CPU, is a core component within your computer. Serving as your PC’s brain, it acts on the instructions of a computer program or application. The CPU acts on each instruction and allocates specific tasks around the motherboard to the different components, in order to fulfil the program’s instructions.

If you’re in the market for a new CPU, it is important to understand what you use your computer for. As CPUs are available in many different specifications, you could end up wasting money.

If you use your computer for light browsing, emails, and to watch movies, then you won’t need a powerful processor. Even if you’re a PC gamer, as long as your games aren’t too demanding, a low to medium powered CPU is more than enough. If you require a PC that can handle video editing, graphic design and high-end gaming then you will need to invest in a more powerful processor with better performance. Don’t worry, if you outgrow your CPU you can usually upgrade it.

Cores and Threads

Today’s CPUs are made up of several cores (Dual-Core & Quad-Core). They are essentially processors within the processor which allows it to perform multiple instructions simultaneously. Threads are located within the cores and are what makes your CPU perform multiple tasks at once. Each core has two threads. For example, a quad-core processor will have 8 threads.

Clock Speeds

A CPU clock speed highlights the number of instructions and commands a CPU can handle per second. The speed is quoted in “gigahertz” (GHz) and allows users to compare CPUs, ideally from the same generation

To Overclock or Not

If you’re a gamer, then you may want to consider a CPU that gives you the ability to overclock. Overclocking allows you to push your CPU faster than its official speed grade, which ultimately increases its performance. For high-end gaming, the more cores the better.

Overclocking has become very popular within the PC gamer enthusiast community as it allows you to build a very powerful PC by pushing its components to the limits. If you do decide to overclock, ensure that your PC has a proper cooling system as overlocking leads to an increase in the amount of heat the components produce.

Our Top Picks

Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, 1151, 2.8 GHz Coffee Lake – £286.71

If you’re looking build PC or upgrade your CPU, the Intel Core i5-8400 CPU is a great choice. Perfect for gaming, VR, and UHD entertainment, the 8th generation i5 features 6 cores, two more than the previous generation,  leading to exceptional performance.


  • Socket: 1151
  • Chip Set: Z370
  • CPU:Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, 1151, 2.8 GHz (4.0 Turbo), 6-Core, 65W, 14nm, 9MB Cache, UHD GFX, Coffee Lake
  • Cores : 6 Cores
  • Memory Types : DDR4-2133/2400,
The AMD Ryzen 5 1400 CPU ensures the perfect mix for content creation, gaming, and VR gaming. Using ‘true machine intelligence’, the CPU boasts flexibility and versatility with outstanding performance levels.


  • Socket: AM4
  • Type: AMD Ryzen
  • Clock Speed: 3.2GHz, – 3.4GHz turbo
  • Cores : Quad-Core

How to Build the Ultimate Gaming PC

For a non-technical individual, building a PC can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. When faced with the choice of buying a pre-built PC or building a custom PC, the latter is far more rewarding, cost-effective, and offers endless customisation. With the advancements in technology and the huge choice of different system components available, building your own gaming PC allows you to create a unique gaming rig that meets your performance requirements, at a fraction of the cost of a prebuilt gaming PC.

If you’re tired of buying different pre-built PCs, with pre-selected components, just to upgrade to the latest technology, then it may time to build your own custom gaming PC. Take a look at our tips on how to build the ultimate gaming PC:

Choosing the right CPU

The CPU (central processing unit) is essentially the brain of your PC. It is one of the most important components within a computer as it handles the majority of the processing power and executes the instructions from a computer program.

Intel and AMD offer a wide range of CPUs that suit all budgets. For gaming performance, a mid-level Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU is recommended. However, the CPU isn’t necessarily the most important aspect; the graphics card is. If you’re on a budget, you can save money by purchasing a mid-level CPU and focus on a more powerful graphics card.


The motherboard is home to all the components in your PC. The CPU, graphics card, memory, optical drives and wireless cards are all connected to the main circuit board (motherboard).

Before choosing a motherboard, consider all the hardware you’re planning to incorporate into your PC. If you’re looking to push the capabilities of your PC to its limits, then don’t cheap out on the motherboard. A good motherboard will help optimise every inch of performance your hardware has to offer and ensures it reaches its full potential. Furthermore, a good quality motherboard is also far less likely to break down.  A broken motherboard can comprise your entire build and force you to rebuild from scratch.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM is essentially your PC’s short-term memory. It temporarily stores the data that your PC is using to run a program and execute its demands. With gaming in mind, having too little RAM can adversely affect your gaming experience. 8GB is great for gaming and multi-tasking and should be for the next few years, however, keep in mind that some of the latest titles have large system requirements and require a 16GB of RAM. In addition, before you buy your RAM, make sure your chosen motherboard can support it.

Graphics Card (GPU)

We have arrived at the most important part of your build, the graphics card. It is responsible for converting data and rendering an image to your screen. If you are working to a budget, more money should be invested into the graphics card to ensure a smooth gaming experience and allow you to keep up with the ever-increasing graphics-heavy games. Although the graphics card is a key component to a quality gaming experience, be sure to balance out your build. If your graphics card is waiting for your CPU to catch up, you could encounter performance bottlenecks which will adversely affect your framerate.

SSD All the Way

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a newer type of storage device that has no moving parts. It is a form of electronic storage with non-volatile memory. Both solid-state drives and hard-disk drives (HDDs) have pros and cons, however, when it comes to gaming, SSDs are the clear winner. SSDs are much faster, more durable and will take up a lot less space in your rig. It also ensures your PC is running at top speed by reducing loading times and using minimal energy. For maximum memory, if your budget allows, it is not uncommon for PC gamers to invest in both; SSD to store games for fast load times, and the HDD to store their holiday photos.


Last but certainly not least is the case. To tie all your hard work together and finish your build, you will need a case to house all your components. Make sure your chosen case matches the size of your motherboard and can easily accommodate your chosen components. You will also need to ensure your case has an adequate cooling system; all your components will generate a lot of heat. Once your case has ticked all the boxes, be sure to personalise your rig with a design that reflects your gaming identity.

If you’re interested in building a gaming PC, take a look at our ‘build your own PC‘ page for a wide variety of components.