How do cores, i5s/i7s/i9s, different GHz, and 16/32 GB of memory affect a computer performance when working together?


I want to get a new computer because I’m an educator and I’d like to start designing a website, making video content, writing long documents, photoshop, and other content creation.

I’m looking at a MacBook but the research on how all of the cpus work with cores work with ghz speed work with different memory sizes is making my head spin.

Please, ELI5, show me how all of these things work together as if they were one functioning system. All I can find are articles that explain each separately, but not how each impacts the other. Thank you!

In: Technology

Ok so the cores are part of the cpu. The cpu is, as the name says, the central processing unit. It processes tasks. But to process those tasks, the cpu often needs data to work on. But accessing data from the harddrive is slow. So the data that is needed for processing a task is stored in the memory storage (RAM), because it is build in a way that access is faster. More memory space means that more data can be read fast, which is helpful for large processes like loading a large ampunt of data (like in a gameworld). If you have more questions, please ask.

The CPU is the brain of the computer and the RAM is the lungs. On a very general level, more RAM will allow you to do more things at once (open a ton of tabs, have Photoshop and After Effects and League of Legends open at the same time), while the CPU will allow a given tasks to be processed faster – something you’d notice if you were trying to render a video or perform a similar “heavy” process. “iX” is the Intel processor model name (higher is better) and GHz is the speed of each processor core. More cores and faster are better, but you can compare which processor will be faster on the whole by just comparing prices. A very loose way to think about it is GHz speed x # of processor cores. Even base Macbook Pro models are pretty decent these days, so I’d recommend something mid-tier for the processor and ideally 16GB of RAM for stuff like programming or fucking around with Photoshop. If you have Chrome open with 25 tabs + Photoshop, you want enough RAM to breathe comfortably. If you’re planning on PC gaming or more intense video creation, you need to look at graphics cards as well, which are kind of like CPUs that specialize in parallel operations – i.e. stuff like rendering images in real time.

So a computer is mainly two things – Processor and memory.

Any software needs to be stored in some kind of really fast memory (also called RAM) when you use that software. “GB” is a way of measuring how much fast memory you have. 8 GB is the norm these days, 16 GB is quite enough for what you want to do with the computer.

The other thing is processor. This is what actually does the “Work”, like showing a website in the browser, apply the photoshop filters to photos etc.. i5/i7/i9 are the processors made by Intel inside your Mac.

There are two factors that make a processor fast: **How many calculations it can do every second** (GHz) and **How many calculations can it do at the same time in parallel** (Cores).

^(Usually i5 has 2 to 4 cores, i7 has 2 to 6 cores and i9 has 6 or more cores. Each core of i5 has usually less GHz than i7, and same goes for i7 and i9. (This statement is not always true hence I made it small))

Since we’re only talking about Macs, it’s sufficient for you to know that i5 is less capable than i7 and i7 is less capable than i9.

**Processors are usually much much faster than memory. Your processor is almost always doing nothing while your memory is holding a fair amount of stuff.**

Since your work is more than just ‘basic’ work, I’ll recommend you i7 processor with 16 GB RAM because Macs are expensive and you need to future-proof yourself a little bit if you’re buying one. Also look out for something called a GPU (or Graphics Cards). Some macs also come with those and they can speed up your content creation quite a lot.

Edit: Redundant Text

Maybe someone else could elaborate on this more. But cooling is an important factor as well. Especially considering the MacBooks. The MacBook Pro has better cooling meaning the processors can run more efficiently. The MacBook Air doesn’t have enough cool so even though dual processor is newer generation than then quad processor in the MacBook Pro, you’ll get better benchmarks from the baseline MacBook Pro than an upgraded MacBook Air with a quad processor.

I used to spend a lot of time reading about PC hardware as an entertainment and to be honest undersdanding how these things work or what the specs mean won’t help that much figuring out what you need.

I’d be more pragmatic and look at the recomended requirements of some of the programs you might want to use, and do some extra research for those with the highest requirements as the oficial requirements may not be that useful either, look for recommendations from people using those programs for example

Another useful resource is to look for hardware benchmarks based on real world programs preferably, there are a lot of benchmarks using popular video and photo editing sofwtare that can be a good reference.