It's confusing...and I don't know of a single source for all processors because they, like motherboards, continue to be used by us users long after they have stopped production of same.
I just have general rules which I use:
a. You can just look at Ghz up through the Pentium 4s and the AMD XPs (which really didn't use Ghz).
b. The dual-cores (any/all) are faster than any single-core. Many of the processors which appear to "on sale" today probably belong in the single-core category (which...was the fastest thing available not long ago).
c. Intel has the better processors (head-to-head) when compared to AMD counterparts, but...the AMD processors are better buys, since their top processors of not-long-ago are today's "bargains."
d. Box-makers (Gateway, Compaq, etc.) will go with the latest, greatest generally speaking...their market assumes new users don't really want or know the differences of the past and will go with whatever is "popular."
All processors (Intel and AMD) made today...are very fine, IMO. The Celerons (which was aimed at the inexpensive consumer market) are now a thing of the past for many systems and even the Celerons were surprisingly good, all things considered.
Bear in mind that my first system included a Pentium 166 processor and I've gone through enough changes at this point that I can appreciate anything that's considerably faster.
When I want to know something about processors, I just look up a review of that particular processor and ask myself if I am really ever going to notice the speed differences which are daily touted to the knowing and unknowing.
This system is still using an XP 2200 processor and it powers (easily) 4 hard drives, 1 DVD drive, etc. with no problems...and I have no complaints about processing speed for any application. I do video capture and editing, burn CDs/DVDs, and all the other routine things that users do.
I don't game...and gamers are the market that all the speed emphases and high-cost video cards are made for. It's a catch-22 for gamers because newer games demand more speed...endlessly
I just tend to buy what I can afford to buy or what seems to be the right price, at the right time.
I suspect that I'll buy a dual-core system sometime in Jan 09, when they should be out of favor
Dell is a good place to go and see what is being pushed...and then just do some comparative shopping/reviewing independently online at places like Tiger Direct, Newegg, Directron, and Pricewatch.
Edit: I used a magazine called Computer Shopper for weeks before I ever bought my first computer. It had tons of systems, specs, etc. Today I would recommend (to anyone anticipating buying a system or components) that he/she get on the mailing list for catalogs from Tiger Direct, Dell, etc. and just get an idea about the lay of the land...before plunking any money down.
Edited by hamluis, 16 April 2008 - 09:48 PM.