Choose a CPU
This article is a continuation of the series to choose your hardware easily. For more information, there are many good comparative. My goal is to make the most neophytes realize that select all its components is very interesting.
For the processor, the first thing is to define the use of the computer, it will determine whether to emphasize the frequency or the number of cores.
For the office and everything that comes close: photo or video processing, compression, a CPU with more cores will be more comfortable and will not freeze the computer. Indeed, even on an application that doesn't take advantage of multicore processors, if a computation take 100% of a core, the others remain available for other tasks.
For a player, the frequency will be more important. During a game, we do nothing else, so it's unnecessary to have reserve capacity unused.
To the great question of choosing between Intel and AMD, I would tend to AMD, currently it offers the best value.
Just remind that the choice of the CPU will determine the model of the motherboard, and chipset in particular.
Depending on the motherboard, the chipset can act as sound card and/or onboard video. What will be enough for the office and casual gamers. If you will need additional cards or if the chipset brand doesn't matter for you, finally it doesn't matter.
For a "average" user, ie not a big player (which anyway would not need to read this article!), I recommend the range of Athlon II. Indeed, they are much cheaper than the Phenom because they have no L3 cache, and the performance difference is not huge. As can be seen on the performance graph achieved by Hardware.fr, an equivalent performance on Intel is more expensive.
Usually in processors, the best performance/price ratio is on the lower models. Because of the quick developments in technology, it's unnecessary to spend a lot in the CPU.
For a small budget, the Athlon II X2 240 around $50 is an excellent choice, offering a modern architecture and without competition from Intel at this price.
If you think you need 4 cores, the Athlon II X4 620 will do. In addition, this is the most economical in electricity quad-core. But the price is almost doubled to $90.