Difference Wiki

Microprocessor vs. Microcomputer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 15, 2024
A microprocessor is a single integrated circuit performing computational tasks, while a microcomputer is a complete computer built on a microprocessor.

Key Differences

A microprocessor is the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer, integrated on a single chip, responsible for executing instructions. A microcomputer, on the other hand, is a small, relatively inexpensive computer that includes a microprocessor, memory, input/output (I/O) interfaces, and often storage.
The microprocessor performs arithmetic, logic, controlling, and processing operations in a computer system. In contrast, a microcomputer uses the microprocessor as its brain but also includes other components necessary for a fully functioning computer system.
Microprocessors are a critical component in a wide range of electronic devices beyond computers, such as embedded systems. Microcomputers, however, are typically understood as desktop, laptop, or handheld computers, used for general computing tasks.
The design of a microprocessor focuses on the processing power, efficiency, and instruction set. The design of a microcomputer encompasses not only the microprocessor but also the system architecture, memory management, and I/O capabilities.
In usage, a microprocessor is seen more as a component, a part of a larger system. A microcomputer is viewed as a complete system in itself, ready for use in tasks like word processing, internet browsing, or software development.

Comparison Chart


Executes computational tasks
Complete computer system


Single integrated circuit (CPU)
Includes CPU, memory, I/O, and often storage


In various electronic devices
For general computing tasks

Design Focus

Processing power and efficiency
Overall system architecture and functionality


Component of a system
Complete system itself

Microprocessor and Microcomputer Definitions


An integrated circuit designed for processing operations.
The microprocessor in the embedded system controlled the robotic arm.


A small, personal computer based on a microprocessor.
Her microcomputer was compact enough for easy portability.


Central unit for arithmetic and logic operations in computers.
Upgrading the microprocessor boosted the computer's processing speed.


An affordable computer suitable for individual users.
The microcomputer revolutionized access to technology in homes.


A single-chip CPU for executing computer instructions.
The latest smartphone uses an advanced microprocessor for faster performance.


A device encompassing storage, memory, and processing capabilities.
His microcomputer had sufficient storage for his extensive music collection.


The brain of computer systems, handling computational tasks.
The microprocessor in her laptop was powerful enough for video editing.


A desktop or laptop computer used in everyday life.
The microcomputer became an essential tool for students and professionals alike.


A key component in both computers and electronic devices.
The efficiency of the new microprocessor reduced the gadget's energy consumption.


A complete computing system for general-purpose tasks.
They used the microcomputer for various office applications.


An integrated circuit that contains a major processing unit of a computer on a single microchip, such as the central processor or the graphics processor.


A personal computer.


(computer hardware) the entire CPU of a computer on a single integrated circuit (chip).


(computer hardware) A computer designed around a microprocessor, smaller than a minicomputer or a mainframe.


Integrated circuit semiconductor chip that performs the bulk of the processing and controls the parts of a system;
A microprocessor functions as the central processing unit of a microcomputer
A disk drive contains a microprocessor to handle the internal functions of the drive


A small computer based on a microprocessor; in practise, at any given time in the technology of computer development, a microcomputer will be one that is less powerful than a minicomputer.


A small digital computer based on a microprocessor and designed to be used by one person at a time


Do microcomputers come in different types?

Yes, microcomputers come in various forms, including desktops, laptops, and handheld devices.

What is a microcomputer?

A microcomputer is a small, personal computer that typically includes a microprocessor, memory, input/output interfaces, and storage.

Can a microprocessor function independently?

No, a microprocessor needs other components like memory and I/O interfaces to function as part of a system.

How has the microprocessor evolved over the years?

Microprocessors have evolved significantly, becoming more powerful, efficient, and compact over the years.

What factors determine the power of a microprocessor?

The power of a microprocessor is determined by its clock speed, architecture, instruction set, and the number of cores.

Can microcomputers be used for gaming?

Yes, many microcomputers, especially those with advanced graphics and processing capabilities, are suitable for gaming.

What kind of storage do microcomputers use?

Microcomputers use various types of storage, including hard drives, solid-state drives, and flash memory.

What are the main uses of a microcomputer?

Microcomputers are used for various tasks like word processing, internet browsing, gaming, and software development.

Are microprocessors used in devices other than computers?

Yes, microprocessors are used in a wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, and embedded systems.

Can microcomputers be connected to networks?

Yes, most microcomputers have networking capabilities, allowing them to connect to local networks and the internet.

What is a microprocessor?

A microprocessor is a compact integrated circuit that performs the functions of a central processing unit (CPU) in a computer.

Is a microprocessor replaceable in a microcomputer?

In some microcomputers, the microprocessor can be replaced or upgraded, but in many modern designs, it is integrated and non-replaceable.

What is the role of memory in a microcomputer?

Memory in a microcomputer stores data and program instructions for quick access by the microprocessor.

Are microcomputers affordable?

Microcomputers range in price, with many affordable options available, especially for basic computing needs.

How important is the microprocessor in a microcomputer?

The microprocessor is crucial in a microcomputer as it executes the instructions and processes necessary for the computer to function.

What is the difference between a microprocessor and a CPU?

A microprocessor is a type of CPU, specifically designed as a single integrated circuit for computing tasks.

Do all microcomputers use the same type of microprocessor?

No, microcomputers use various types of microprocessors, each with different capabilities and architectures.

Is it possible to build a custom microcomputer?

Yes, enthusiasts and professionals can build custom microcomputers by selecting specific components, including the microprocessor.

How do microprocessors impact the performance of a microcomputer?

The performance of a microcomputer is greatly influenced by the speed and efficiency of its microprocessor.

Can microcomputers run all types of software?

The ability of a microcomputer to run different types of software depends on its specifications, operating system, and compatibility.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons