Single, Dual or Quad Core: Which Is Best For You?

A Basic Guide To What The Heck They're Talking About

For the latest updated CPU information check out this Hub: Guide To Single, Dual, Triple, Quad, or Six Core: Which Is Best For Your PC?

Whenever ordinary mortals try to find out more about the multi-core revolution, they are usually confronted with discussions of the relative characteristics of L2 vs. L3 cache, 45nm vs 65nm, Agena vs. Penryn, dual-dual vs. true quad, how to OC the QX6700 over 3 GHz, why the 1066 MHz FSB is too damn slow, what the extra four pins do in a 775 socket, and whether pigs have wings.

This is usually of absolutely no help to the average computer user who just wants the machine to run faster, knows they have to upgrade, and doesn't have a clue what a core does in the first place.

Therefore this article is for the entry-level crowd. The CPU Forum Gurus can just go back into their Silicon caves and not bother pointing out the oversimplifications as I'm not writing a white paper for AMD's Dr. Hector Ruiz.

At the beginning of personal computing there were various manufacturers of Central Processing Units (CPUs) which are the processors, or the brains, of your computer. Pretty well everything that is processed in your computer, with the major exception of the video processing, is done inside the CPU. That makes the CPU a very critical part of your system. Generally speaking, the faster your CPU can process the data, the faster your system responds and the less time you spend twiddling your thumbs and watching the hourglass.

These manufacturers started trying to top each other by making faster and faster CPUs. Most of them failed and went to join Cyrix in Silicon Heaven. Only Intel and AMD survived the shakeout, the former a $125 billion giant and the latter a $7 billion scrapper which held Intel at bay for several years with better, cheaper CPUs before developing a puzzling case of incompetentitis gravis in early 2006 and stumbing/delaying/screwing up all their new product launches.

Both Intel and AMD spent about a decade getting their silicon to go faster and faster until they both hit a brick wall around 2004. Current technology really wouldn't let the CPUs go above 4 GHz (a measure of processor speed in the cycles that they can process information). Any attempts to break the 4 GHz barrier resulted in steel smelter heat generation and nuclear powerplant electrical requirements.

Since Moore's Law states that computing has to double in speed every 18 months, engineering limitations be damned, there was no choice but to increase the number of cores in the CPU. This is analogous to taking a 4 cylinder engine out of your Chevy Vega and plunking in a 454 V-8 Big Block. Twice the number of "cylinders" should produce twice the "speed."

It didn't really work out that way, however. Taking a 3 GHz core and fitting it next to another 3 GHz core didn't process like a 6 GHz core at all. That's because the second core needs specific software to process at the same time. Processing data is like a single cash register queue. One bit has to follow the other. If you try to process one bit on this side and the next bit on the other side, the computer will get confused and process nothing at all, just like the cash register operator trying to serve two customers at once.

It turned out that less than 1% of all popular software applications could handle the second core. The ones that could, like Adobe Photoshop, would absolutely fly! On a 3 GHz per side dual core, Photoshop performs like it was accessing a 6 GHz single core or even better than that! However, most other software, games, etc. just didn't even recognize the second core and kept plugging along at normal speed.

Fortunately, both Windows XP and Vista can slough off some of their own Operating System functions so that users will notice a serious increase in speed when they go to dual-core, even when running applications that are not "multi-threaded" like Photoshop. One core will be dedicated to only running the application and the other core will run all the background functions.

Therefore the bottom line for most computer users is do not buy another single core. You'll see faster response time and generally have a happier computing experience.

Then what does a quad core do? A quad core is double a dual core. It can process four streams at once. This represents an astounding jump in processing speed for those rare "multi-threaded" applications, but for the majority of regular users, they would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the performance of a dual core vs. a quad core on their desktop, individual core speeds being equal.

So is the quad core CPU being sold just for bragging rights? Not exactly. Even if you are not a current "multi-threaded" application user today, you very likely will be in the future. Programmers are rewriting their applications to take advantage of the multiple cores and you will be left behind if you are still stuck on single core CPUs. Buying a quad core today is a great insurance policy for the future and will ensure that you are pretty well future-proofed against computer obsolescence for a couple of years at least.

AMD and Intel have been engaged in a cutthroat price war so the price of a quad core has fallen sharply, and thus has become very affordable to all.

My best advice to anyone configuring a new system today that they intend to keep for a while is to go with these specifications as an absolute minimum:

Quad-core of minimum 2.66 GHz per core.

2 GB RAM, and make sure you have two more empty RAM slots on your motherboard for future expansion.

500 GB Hard Drive (the prices have come way down).

Don't get suckered into buying a DX10 video card quite yet, unless you're an ardent gamer. These new, expensive and very power-hungry cards offer absolutely no advantage to anyone who doesn't process video at the level of 3D pros, HDTV editors and rabid gameplayers. The video card is an easy upgrade later anyway.

The essence of my advice to all the people considering upgrading from their old single cores is to take the jump directly to quad core. You'll be thankful for it in the future.


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Comments 177 comments

cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

Thanks a lot, it is very useful for me, I can't tell the difference, I have a dual core 2.66, before I had single one at 3.2 GHz, I can see the difference, I am able to run more programs at one time. I will keep this reference for future buying needs. Thanks.

Jay Skulkan Bushwhacker 9 years ago


Thanks I have spent months looking for the simple, clear explanation that you share with us here.

You get my vote as the most intelligent man in America, and the next president of the USA.

Shlala Gashle

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto Author

Dear Shlala.

Thank you for the Imhotepization although I do tend to prefer Greek to Egyptian architecture, but I digress. However, I do have to express my appreciation for the nomination of the most intelligent man in (North) America, but I respectfully decline the invitation to be President of the USA. I'm having way too much fun doing what I'm doing now, and the last thing I need is to be the subject of Jay Leno's barbs five nights a week.

I will now retire to my cool and relaxing tomb at Saqqara. :)

Dante 8 years ago

Hi Thx man!But is it ok if you could give me a list of brands of motherboards, graphic cards, RAMs, Hard Disk , and a good casing or any recommended cooling that I could use as my current PC is having a sahara desert experience told by my techician.Thx!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Check my Master Tech Hub on for all sorts of computer component articles. If you still require help, let me know and I'll do my best!

brad 8 years ago

"Buying a quad core today is a great insurance policy for the future"

"Don't get suckered into buying a DX10 video card quite yet"

so its ok to buy quad core for the future but not video card?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, because although the multithreadedness of applications is inevitable, making the quad core a good choice for a long term system build, the validity of DX10 is highly questionable and may be entirely a moot point as we approach DX11. We're already at DX10.1 and many believe that the day of proprietary graphic standards may be at an end.

Lgali profile image

Lgali 8 years ago

very nice information

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! I appreciate your compliments!

Kulsum Mehmood profile image

Kulsum Mehmood 8 years ago from Nagpur, India

I agree with Jay

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Kulsum, thank you, but even if I was the most intelligent man in America, the next president of the USA has just been chosen and I think that the electorate might not be willing to elect a Canadian such as myself! :)

needful things profile image

needful things 8 years ago from Poland

Ahhh... a quad core then... thanks for the enlightenment. Thumbs up man!!!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Go for the quad, and if you can spare a few extra bucks, the i7 920 is the most bang for the buck out there today!

britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 7 years ago from united kingdom

wow this is really great information as i am aware about all this but bit confuse about the expansion slot..would it be ok to expand more memory? will processor be able to support it?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Any modern processor will handle way more memory than you could fit in a mainstream motherboard. The critical aspect is the operating system. 32 bit OSs which are the majority of the ones currently installed hit the wall at 3.2 GB of RAM. However, for the same price you can buy XP, Vista, etc. in 64 bit and then the amount of RAM you can access is effectively unreachable by the home computer user. I have 12 GB RAM in my new i7 920 with 64 bit Vista and it's AMAZING!

britneydavidson profile image

britneydavidson 7 years ago from united kingdom

ok Hal Licino got the idea...thanx a lot for making me aware about have amazing knowledge about computers. 12GB RAM means you must have 3 slots of 4Gb RAM strips right?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for the kind words! :) In my i7 system I have 6 slots with 2 GB each, although I could populate 3 of the slots with 4 GB but that would end up costing considerably more as that RAM is rather rare right now. Keep in mind that i7 is TRIPLE channel so it should take its RAM in multiples of 3: 6, 9, 12, etc. Core 2 and AMD Phenom II is DUAL channel so it takes its RAM in multiples of 2: 4, 8, etc.

ryan0257 profile image

ryan0257 7 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Helped my knowledge of processor cores alot, I had no idea about any of this stuff. I just thought the more the merrier. Great information.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thank you very much! I appreciate your comments!

getanswers 7 years ago

i dont think normal users need quad core.. its used by photoshop, etc.. designers..

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Multiple core CPUs excel in extreme multithreaded apps, and yes, Photoshop is among them. I can certainly testify to that, since my Core i7 920 runs eight hyperthreaded cores and Photoshop just zooms on it. Video encoding, 3D and other similar work is also massively facilitated by quad cores.

Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

The average computer user that I run into does not really need the higher speed chips. These users only open simple apps and rarely have more than three of those open at a time. Those that run Photoshop, Maya, or other bulky graphics programs can really see and benefit from the extra money spend on the faster processing chips.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I couldn't agree more. As a Photoshop Phanatic I need every bit of the 12GB RAM and every processor cycle I can squeeze out of the eight hyperthreaded cores which I have running at Turbo. However, for the user who runs MS Office, surfs the web, and watches an occasional movie, that's complete overkill.

Derek 7 years ago

Thanks for the article. very helpful. i never leave posts, but i was so impressed with the straight forward article i had to say thanks.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated! :)

UK Magazines 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing such a usefull information. I really got some new points from your hub.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

My pleasure! :)

Kobbra 7 years ago

absolutely brilliant man all of your articles are very easy to understand and useful; keep up with the good work:)) greetings from Romania

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thank you very much, sunt fericit l-ai gasit util! :)

Sheena 7 years ago

Thank you for your excellent article. Do quad cores need more memory than dual or single cores, and if so, how much more?

For example, if 4 - 6GB RAM is required to run a multi-threaded application on a single core, would one need to buy more RAM to run the same application on a quad core?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Sheena, it would be nice if it worked that way, but unfortunately it doesn't. A multithreaded app will only run in one core on a single core system, unless it's equipped with Intel's hyperthreading (which was horrible on the old CPUs, but phenomenal on the new Core i7s). RAM is not a factor in multiple core processing of a properly coded multithreaded app. Having said that, you will find that on any system whether it be a single core or an octocore with Intel HT for a total of 16 cores in your Task Manager, that additional RAM will allow you to run more apps at the same time, and also let the apps you're running react much more "snappily." I went from a Core 2 Quad with 3GB RAM on Vista 32 to a Core i7 with 12 GB RAM on Vista 64 and the difference in, say, launching Photoshop CS4 is absolutely shocking. It's at least 4 to 5 times faster. The vast majority of that improvement is down to the additional RAM.

Sheena 7 years ago

Thanks for your quick response!

hsofyan profile image

hsofyan 7 years ago from Indonesia

Now I use my dual core @2.53GHz. Performance is better than a single core. I think, than the processor, RAM capacity is also important to consider.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I agree that RAM is extremely important. The warp drive speed I'm getting out of my current system is only partially due to the phenomenal processing ability of the Core i7, but also due to the 12 GB RAM. That is especially evident in Photoshop which is an infamous RAM hog.

morzshock 7 years ago

this is not an advertisement or anything.


I need your opinion on this one.

intel core 2 duo E8200


AMD phenom x3 8600??

(i cant afford a quad core)

which is better more core with low clockspeed or less core with high clockspeed?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

No comparison at all. The AMD is a quad with a disabled fourth core, and the utility of that odd third core is highly questionable. The Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 scores 8390 while the AMD Phenom X3 8600 manages 8259 on the 3DMark Vantage Score and the much higher clock of the E8200 will provide much better performance on any single threaded app which still constitute 99% of all the apps out there.

morzshock 7 years ago

ohw I see... but how about in multi threaded app? which is better?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

In multithreads, the more cores the better. Just be careful since a fair number of apps which call themselves multithreaded only run on one core leaving the OS to run on a second core. Therefore for all of those, anything more than a dual core is a waste.

morzshock 7 years ago

thanks a lot sir. this is such a great guide. by d way, what's with this 45nm and 65nm technologies?

creativeMind profile image

creativeMind 7 years ago from Cochin

dual core PC isn't necessary for running oridinary applications.. but using dual core has its merits..the applications responds vey fast...

dual core PC with XP is a good option for oridinry home user..

im a software developer and i run a webserver and database server on my dual core pc on 1 gb RAM and im satisfues with the results...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

morzshock: The difference in nm is the measurement of the size of the structure of the silicon chip in nanometers. The smaller it is, the more circuits can be packed onto a given size of wafer and (generally) the less electricity it will consume and the less heat it will produce. I really should write a Hub on that! :)

creativeMind: Actually I'm surprised that you can run a web/db server on 1 GB RAM. I have a laptop with that much RAM and I can't seem to do much of anything on it, even running XP.

morzshock 7 years ago

hal licino: you can give me your laptop if you dont like it..^^,... Im still confuse which is better for gaming... please do have a comment on this one.

im just a gamer who plays a dual window of a game(one for the attacker and the other for the supporter) ^^,...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

The video is just plain silly. Why compare it with the Intel G35 chipset which is limited to DDR2 800 RAM? It was an AMD fanboi POS. The vast majority of games out today are single threaded, so there is really no advantage to throwing lots of cores at them. Actually, I'll be glad to SELL you my laptop! :)

morzshock 7 years ago

but in that case, the amd is a bit advantage to that settings? im just making a priority list out of the most advantage set up of them all. I wish to if you could just give it to me freely..^^, its to far from here in the philippines to have a business with you sir. ^^,

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi morzshock. Actually I'm just kiddin' about selling my laptop as I use it occasionally when I'm outside, and I don't need anything too powerful then, just a data bucket, so it does fine.

There is no reason... no reason whatsoever.. in July 2009 to buy an AMD CPU. None. That's my position and I'm sticking to it. In that comparison they were using a low end G35 Intel chipset. Compare it against a higher level Intel chipset mobo which costs maybe ten bucks more, and it will trash the AMD. It was a biased test.

Compzone08 profile image

Compzone08 7 years ago

Thanks for sharing great information

ARQAM 7 years ago

Thanks man your great

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thank you very much to both of you! :)

xania 7 years ago

Noting your comments about Photoshop being multi-threaded, do you know whether Adobe In Design is now multi-threaded and would it be able to benefit from Quad core over Dual? I will be running this software on a new system I will be building (subject to your adive on type) almost certainly using an AMD CPU and XP Pro SP3.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, all of Adobe CS4 is multithreaded and will fly on a quad core. I'm using it on a Core i7 and it's PHENOMENAL!

Bishop 7 years ago

Thanks for the info Hal. Myself, I put together a list of parts I would need to build a HTPC, in which I will be buy next month (actually with next week's pay check). I was a bit confused at whether or not I should buy a quad core. After reading your post, I will go for the Quad. The Q9550 is only $30 more than the E8500 I was looking at. Plus for that $30 you get 2 more cores and 6mb of L2 cache.

I've also decided to go with a board that has the G45 chipset as opposed to the board with the G43 chipset. (specifically the Asus P5Q line). I don't care about gaming on the PC (that is what the Xbox 360 is for, IMO), but I do care about how HD content will look, and I'm not getting the quality I desire with my old 3.0 P4 running 2GB of ram and an FX-5300 card.

Jeez, I'm sitting here contemplating on spending $229 on a Quad-Core when I spent the same amount for a 486-DX2 chip back in 1994. {{slaps head}} Well, at least ram is affordable. Back then, I paid another $464 for 16mb of ram! 32mb SIMM sticks were over $1300!!! LOL

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Yes, I remember the bad old days of big money for RAM. I remember when 4 x 1 MB sticks of Mac RAM cost $2400! Ouch! You will love your Q9550. It's a great Quad! Enjoy!

John 7 years ago

I have dual core enabled laptop ...... so i prefer it ...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

It all depends on what you're doing on it, but if you are actually working on various apps rather than just web surfing, a dual core laptop can be just great! Quads are overkill for most laptops, right now, at least.

Fritos 7 years ago

By the way people keep in mind, if you do plan on using your computer for games, a e8500 overclocked to 4ghz or higher would benefit you more than a quad at 3ghz since most games dont use quad cores to their fullest yet. But thats for games.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Fritos, I agree about the fast dual being better for CURRENT games than a quad, but OCing an E8500 well over 4 GHz is definitely a fool's errand. The heat produced and the decline in reliability is simply not worth the trouble.

ajparker profile image

ajparker 7 years ago from North Carolina

Good information - I haven't gone for a dual or multi core processor yet, but suspect that will be the next upgrade cycle for me.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Definitely go with at least a dual core. It makes a significant difference in everyday computing over a single core.

Michael K 7 years ago


Thanks for posting a great article. I was wondering if you could share your thoughts on whether it would be better for current usage (and hopefully to future-proof and/or ease of upgrade at least 3-4 years into the future) to get a new desktop running a Core 2 Quad Core 8300 @ 2.50GHz with 8 gigabytes of the new DDR3 RAM or to choose a new desktop running AMD Phenom X4 9750 quad core @ 2.4GHz with 8GB DDR2 RAM. Assume the other elements (e.g. graphics, hard drive size, sound card, etc.) are effectively equal. The intended uses for the machine are general home office/small business applications with casual gaming, movie watching, internet surfing, and occasional to moderate video/photo editing but nothing 'high-end' in that arena. Going the Core i7 CPU route is more than I want to spend in my budget (circa no more than $700 for the system sans monitor).

Also, do you think going the new DDR3 Ram route is worth it? I got burned back in the mid/late 90s when I bought my first PC and got sold the "Rambus RD-RAM is the next tech wave" and ended up facing substantially higher prices when I was considering buying additional RAM to upgrade that system a couple years later.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi Michael K. Thanks for the kind words. I'm very biased towards the i7 as the darn thing is a rocketship. I'm a huge believer in DDR3 as well, but ONLY in a triple channel setup. DDR3 in dual channel simply does not utilize the majority of the benefits of DDR3 so you might as well just put on some DDR2 sticks in the PC.

The main reason I recommend the i7 to almost anyone who is interested in anything more powerful than a basic web surfing system is because when you calculate the cost, it really is roughly equivalent to any other much less powerful system

The i7 920 is currently at at $279. If you poke around the net you might find it close to $250. Compare that to's current price for

Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 2.5GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80580Q8300

of $179 and is the hundred bucks or less difference really going to break the budget when you consider the overwhelming performance advantage?

I had a Q8400 before my i7 920 and it was like going from a Commodore 64 to a Cray supercomputer.

An argument against i7 is the cost of motherboards. Yes, you can easily spend $400 or much more on a superfancy mobo for it, but the question is do you need it? My mobo is Dell, so it's about as basic as it can get, and I don't OC. And I'm STILL flabbergasted by the performance. You don't HAVE to spend big money for an i7 mobo. Right now has:

JetWay JBI-600-LF LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

for just $159

or your choice of

Foxconn FlamingBlade GTI LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard


MSI X58M LGA 1366 Intel X58 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

for ten bucks more. The latter is especially interesting due to the mATX form factor and the 2-way SLI/CFX and True Blu-ray Audio.

If you were absolutely stuck for a "major brand" mobo, then spend 4 extra dollars and get the

GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

which will let you do darn near anything you want that a $400 mobo will do, including some decent OC.

Even if you get a Q8300 you're going to be fairly hard pressed to get a significantly cheaper mobo than $159, so where are the savings? The cost of DDR3 has come way down, and the same HD, opticals, case, etc. can be used in almost any system.

So my advice is by all means do the i7. If you keep your eyes out for special sales, Dell has full i7 systems as low as the mid $800s. That might be a hundred or so more than you may want to budget, but believe me, even if you have to scrimp on donuts and movies for a month, it's WELL worth it!


Kevin 7 years ago

Hey Aion tower of eternity just realeased beta and my laptop Toshiba Satilite x205-s7483 is having problems running it like wite terran, bluescreen crashes but i have fixed bluescreen crashes, i have tried to overclock the vedio card 8700m Gt but still get same results but faster /FPS, and my processor is too slow for me to realy overclock the video card too much... any sugestions?

can e-mail me too

my system here:->

Windows Vista

Kevin 7 years ago

Windows vista 32bit-OS

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

I'm not really sure what wite terran means, but by all means reinitialize your drive and reinstall the ORIGINAL OS that came with the laptop's CDs or DVDs. Many laptops have proprietary features or drivers that are lacking from generic Windows installations.

Crystal 7 years ago

Hi Hal,

You are the man when it comes to explaining highly technical data to low and medium technos. Myself and many others appreciate your taking the time to give us this info as it really helps in making our computer decisions. Now onto my question if you have a moment to answer. I am a serious gamer, but do not play multiplayer on the web. I prefer just playing against the computer. First Person Shooters such as Far Cry and Crysis are my genre. I am looking into purchasing a new computer for schoolwork (yes another old timer heading back to school) and gaming. I am looking at Microtel gaming computers with Intel Core I7 Processor 920. I am looking at spending no more than $1300 and want a computer that will still be there for me in 4 years. Should I go ahead and buy a quad core now or in your experience, will a dual core still be able to handle what's coming in the next four years?

Thanks So Much

Zwei 7 years ago

Hal, like Crystal above, im also looking to build a new computer to mainly watch movies, play some games, and school work. so is quad core better for movies or just stick with dual core?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Crystal: Thanks for your comment and your kind words. By all means the i7 series is going to future proof you until at least 2014. I wouldn't want to have a dual core as of around 2012, so you're really better off going quad. Remember to buy as much RAM as you can afford as that will give you by far the most "bang for the buck" not just in games but in all your apps. Crysis is extremely rare among games in that the software's code takes full advantage of any multi-core system to generate complex visual particle effects through its parallelization technique where various tasks, such as particle calculations, physics, sound, and others are performed in a parallel sequence. This allows one core to take over, say, physics, while another does particles, and another sound, etc. That's why you want 4 cores all humming along. Especially with the HyperThreading in your i7, you'll be throwing a full 8 effective cores at your Crysis and it will fly. Keep in mind also that Crysis will take advantage of your CPU in many cases if your GPU lags behind, so it's not necessary to go crazy with your video subsystem and sink almost a thousand bucks into a GeForce GTX 295 H2OC 1792MB! Any of the decent $150 to $250 cards will more than do the job. Have fun! :)

Zwei: What I've just mentioned to Crystal also applies here. Everyone knows that I have not gotten along with almost any CPU from AMD for a few years now, but I have to admit that if you have fairly basic requirements but want to go quad, then the just announced AMD Athlon II X4 620 at 2.6GHz with a TDP of 95W and a street price of just $99 is one heck of an entry level quad for less than roughly equivalent dual core money. See, world, I CAN congratulate the Green Team on those exceedingly rare occasions when they do something right. Thanks! :)

magdielqr profile image

magdielqr 7 years ago

Very informative and interesting!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! Glad to help! :)

Sexy jonty profile image

Sexy jonty 7 years ago from India

Hal Licino ..... I have a laptop with dual core ....

but this article is quite a helpful .....

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! Glad to help!

Leslie 7 years ago

What's your take on quad core laptops? Ready for prime-time or too reliant on desktop processors and likely to overheat/fail faster?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

My opinion is that quad laptops are just not ready for prime time. First of all, 99% of all individuals who have laptops have virtually no need for the massive multithreading, at least with the vast majority of currently available software they use. A quad core is great, but it really only shines in 64 bit mode, and most laptops around these days top out at 4 GB RAM, so that's a factor as well. Why bother having the expense and heat of a quad when you're running it on a "crippled" 32bit OS. So bottom line is that the time will come for quad laptops to be recommended but that time is likely not much before 2011.

Steven 7 years ago

I'm still running a Pentium 4 right now. Should i upgrade to a core 2 quad or a Core I7?

Mike K 7 years ago

Despite all these comments you already have here, I felt the need to say thank you for the article, it was very informative and well-written.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Steven: All depends what you want to do with your PC. If you're just websurfing and playing using some fairly undemanding applications, by all means the Core 2 Quad is more than enough. Right now the Core i7 shines in really top end apps that put a lot of strain on the CPU, such as 3D rendering, video editing, Photoshop, etc.

Mike K: Thanks! I appreciate that! :)

Michael 7 years ago

Hey there Hal i see that this article was written 2 years ago and i was wondering if it still applies to gaming?

I currently have an Intel pentuim 4 3.00 GHz processor and with newer games like Prototype my computer has started to "run sluggish" and I was wondering if upgrading to a dual core would make a difference? Also Im from South Africa and I rarely see any quad cores or dual cores over 2.5 GHz.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi Michael. Your basic problem is that you're running the game on a system that is below Activision's minimum specs. They call for an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.6GHz+ or an Athlon 64 X2 3800+, so running it on a single core is bottlenecking the heck out of it. Any Core 2 Duo E8xxx will do the trick, and if you want to get into quad, anything at the level of Q9400 and up including the Q8400 will meet the minimum requirements. I'm sure that these CPUs have to be available somewhere in S. Africa. They are the meat and potatoes of Intel's lineup. Make sure to throw lots of RAM and a heck of a video card at that game, as it's pretty resource hungry. Good luck!

Michael 7 years ago

Wow thank you for such a speedy reply. I will definitely get an upgrade then.

Thank you for your help.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

You're very welcome! My pleasure. Enjoy those lovely S. Africa beaches! :)

Andrew 7 years ago

HEllo you have a great thread. Alot of good info i have a question. my pc is going out and im looking to get a new one. i do some basic vid, pic, and sound editing. was wandering if i get a 64bit system does it work with all the software? i like Xp os the best. I have heard it sayed that 64bit does not work with all the software.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks! You need to check the manufacturer's recommendations. Much of the software out there in those fields is 64bit clean and some isn't. Skip XP, now that 7 is out it's the way to go!

Andrew 7 years ago

OK How compatable is windows 7 with all the software out there. im tyred of all the up dates, dowloads, and compatability issues. what do do recommend conserning that?

On a differet note which manufacturer do you recommend HP, DELL... ext

Thanks for your Help

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

My Core i7 is a Dell and I can't possibly say enough good things about it. The powersupply is marginal from a specs standpoint but hasn't given me any problems at all yet. I also have an HP laptop that's been bulletproof. I've been running various iterations of Win7 and haven't found a single glitch yet! :)

Tom 7 years ago

Hey there. I am looking to buy a new laptop that I will use for internet surfing, school work type stuff, and gaming. I really want to be able to run the latest games smoothly, quickly, and with good resolution... but on a laptop. I am particularly interested in playing Dragon Age Origins. Will a quad processor help with what I want to do on a laptop or should I go with a dual? Also, is it better (in general) to have a dual processor at higher Ghz or a quad processor with less Ghz? For instance, one on the laptops I'm interested in has an intel Core 2 duo at 2.53 Ghz and another one has and intel Core 2 quad at 2.0 Ghz. So which is better? I really know little to nothing about these things so I'm sorry if I sound ignorant about it, but does a quad at 2Ghz mean 8Ghz and a duo at 2.53 mean just over 5 Ghz? Thanks for your help.

Tom 7 years ago

And I would be running Windows 7 if that makes a difference.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Dragon Age Origins is one of the very few games that runs way better on a Quad than a Dual, so by all means go for it. You might also want to take into consideration that DAO runs best on XP for reasons known only to the manufacturer. In the vast majority of cases with off the shelf software today, you're better off with less cores and more frequency. It would be great if a 2GHz quad was equal to an 8 GHz single, but it doesn't work that way at all. It's just more processors in parallel. Think of it this way. If you have a dual 2.5 that's like two cars that run side by side at 25 mph. If you have a quad at 2.0 that's 4 cars running side by side at 20 mph. The dual will get there before the quad, but the quad will carry more people/data-processes. Hope this helps! :)

Tom 7 years ago

That does help. Thanks. So, given the choice between the two, would you still recommend a quad processor at lower Ghz over a dual at higher Ghz?

Tom 7 years ago

Also, I know this article is about processors, but can you give me a quick explanation of what difference the rpm number makes when looking at hard drives (like, 5400 or 7200)? And how about the difference in performance from 4GB of DDR3 RAM vs. 6GB of DDR2 Ram? Thanks.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

You're welcome. For DAO definitely go with the quad. Lose the extra half GHz if you have to. It will be much better for you. RPMs in HDs are like the revs in a car engine. The faster the HD platter spins, the faster the data can be picked up or written. 7200 RPM drives are becoming the new standard. I have a VelociRaptor as my boot drive and it runs at 10,000 RPM. Holy fork it's fast. Next best thing to an SSD and no driver probs either. With DDR3, the answer basically boils down to if you have a Core i7 then by all means go with DDR3 in sets of 3 (never sets of 2). If you don't then DDR2 is more than good enough.

Tom 7 years ago

Once again, thanks so much. That helps a lot.

Chuck Hannok 7 years ago

Amzing article! I have a P4 3.0Ghz and just bought a GeForce GT240 gpu and it ran Assasin's Creed pretty smoothly without any real problems.. I use my PC genrally for gaming.... Graphics are not really that important to me, just enough for them to run smoothly.... So my question is, can i still go on with my P4 for a couple of years more? Also, is CODA going to help boost my PC's performance, despite just having a single core CPU?

Roni 7 years ago

Looking for a system that will take a beating from my son & husband & I am looking at HP quad core but I like Sony products because its the oldest computer we have that is still running. My son is always playing music while playing 3 esp poker games & bidding on ebay at the same time & I believe this is what helps crash the compaq & hp. Little old sony2000 still taking a beating but slow & burners don't work or read. Help

Amal 7 years ago

good job man , it was the best sollution of the confusion

Amal 7 years ago

good job man , it was the best sollution of the confusion

Thor 7 years ago

hi can someone help me?

samantha 7 years ago

why is multicore CPUs more efficient than single core processors with higher clock speed ?

- needed help-

mike 7 years ago

i just got Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q8400S (4M Cache, 2.66 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB) and im using windows 7....but i cant really play any games so i wana change win 7 back 2 win plz suggest me if Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q8400S (4M Cache, 2.66 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB) will support win xp and win xp pro....plz thanks...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Tom: You're very welcome.

Chuck Hannock: Thanks! As a mod, CODA "seems" to not be a multithreaded app-mod so you should probably be ok with your P4 for a while.

Roni: I'm a longtime believer in just building your own computer from components. Although I'm currently running a Dell Core i7 920 12 GB RAM and it's bulletproof, I've had great luck with component PCs. So as long as your components are quality, there is no reason to shell out the extra bucks to get a Sony IMHO. Therefore, any of the i7 or i5 series, with at least 4 GB RAM will take care of all your requirements and then some.

Amal: Thanks!

Thor: Sure! You left your hammer over by the 7-11. BTW, loved you in Star Trek. :)

samantha: Think of it as a highway with trucks running on it. If you get only completely full 18 wheelers bumper to bumper on a single lane road at 60 mph, you can get X amount of freight through in, say, a day. But if you have 18 wheelers bumper to bumper at 45 mph but you're on a four lane highway, you can get 3X the amount of freight through. :)

mike: Sure, that Q8400S will run XP just fine, although I would never go from 7 to XP. I'd rather find new games. :)

Tim 7 years ago

Thanks Hal. Just the simple-to-understand info on processors I was looking for. Please accept my gratitude.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

You're very welcome. Thank you for the kind words.

parth 6 years ago

nicely written article

written some 3 yrs ago but is still among d best

i m planning to buy a laptop mostly for surfing,watching movies and some gaming (like fifa 10) so what would you recommend me

a quad core (i7 720 with 8 threads) 1.6 Mhz (OC 2.8 Mhz)

or dual coe (i5 with 4 threads) around 2.4 Mhz

considering d prize difference aswell

with 4 GB ram

parth 6 years ago

and also considering d cache size aswell

plz reply soon

Cambo 6 years ago

Hello, Im currently looking for a laptop for school and some mild gaming with true 16:9 resolution. I want to keep the price at a max of 1,600. I want to be able to run word 2007, internet with multiple tabs, and run a large music library all at once. Do you have any suggestions? Oh, and i was hoping to have atleast 2.8 GHz. If you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear. Thank you for your time.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

parth: Sorry... been bizzier than a one armed paperhanger. Although I'm not a huge fan of the 720, I'd def go with the i7 over the i5. The upgrade potential on the bigger socket is well worth it.

Cambo: No doubt about it. Go Dell.

Studio XPS 16

Intel® Core™ i7-720QM Quad Core Processor 1.6GHz (2.8GHz Turbo Mode, 6MB Cache)

Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English

Full HD Widescreen 15.6 inch WLED LCD (1920x1080) W/2.0 MP

8X Slot Load CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)

6GB Shared Dual Channel DDR3 at 1333MHz

500GB2 7200 RPM3 SATA Hard Drive

ATI Mobility RADEON® HD 4670 – 1GB4

Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB

Intel® 5300 WLAN Wireless-N (3x3) Mini Card

85 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery

McAfee SecurityCenter, 15-Months

2 Year Basic Service Plan

Free 5-7 Day Shipping on select Laptops $699 and above!

Limited Time Offer! Free 6GB Memory Upgrade ($40 Value)!

Starting Price $1,922

Total Savings $323

Subtotal $1,599

It will rock your world! Go for it! :)

parth 6 years ago

thank you for your reply

so now i have made my mind on platform would you help me select a laptop

which is the best notebook for around $1K with i7 720QM processor 4 GB ram max 16' screen. Also i want international warrenty as my uncle would be bringing it fron usa to india.

the one's I know and like are

Asus N61Jq-A1

Lenovo Y550P 324156U


any other suggestion invited

i think i am leaning towards asus as it has very good graphic card and usb 3.0 support.

but i have no idea about there after sales support.

parth 6 years ago

or should i go with dell studio xps 1645 @1049$.


does dell give global warrenty with their 1 year basic plan because i need it.

John C 6 years ago


Fantastic thread. Read it all the way through. If half the tech writers in the world were HALF as direct and uncomplicated as you, we'd all be in a better place. Just upgraded from an old P4 (that was slowly and sporadically dying) to a Core 2 Quad 8300 and was looking for some preventative medicine for potential buyer's remorse. Almost got it with your strong support of i7, but your generic comments about quad performance made me feel Ok with jump as far as core 2 quad (really tight budget this year and need to factor in software upgrade costs as well)

Thanks a million for letting me free ride on your amazing expertise.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

parth, I'd always go with the Dell for the price/performance angle. You have to ask Dell directly for the situation with the warranty in your country as it varies widely.

John C. Thanks! I really appreciate your kind words.

Mal 6 years ago

fantastic little write up !

altho your recommendation would be nice

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 (4 x 3.0GHz)

4GB DDR II 800 MHz Memory (Ram)

1TB (1000GB) SATA Hard Disk Drive

Nvidia Geforce GTX 275 Graphics Card


AMD Athlon Dual Core 3.0 mhz

2GB DDR II 800 MHz Memory

1TB (1000GB) SATA Hard Disk Drive

Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 Graphics Card

theres £200 difference from the top to the bottom, & all i do is play games & id also be looking for music recording, any help would be great cheers :)

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Truly no comparison between the two and the 200 quid difference would be well worth skipping lunch for a month. By all means go with the Intel.

Victor M 6 years ago

Hey Hal I was wondering if the AMD Athlon II X4630 processor was a quad core? And what exactly is the difference between the X2, X3, and X4 models? Thanks

G-MAN 6 years ago

Hi Hal Licino could you please tell me if a quad core(q9400) at 2.66ghz is better or the same as a single core at 3.2ghz? Please answer.

imac ram 6 years ago

Man! this is unbelievably awesome, this is what I call monster PC.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Victor M: It's easy. Put the space in the right place and the answer is right in front of you. AMD Athlon II X4 630. X4 means Quad, X3 is Triple (yeah, stupid to have a tricore), X2 is Dual.

G-MAN: No comparison in any way at all. While a Dual at 3.2 can actually beat a Quad at 2.66 in SOME apps, the single core these days simply can't keep up with the Quad.

imac ram: Thanks for the kind words.

justinsane 6 years ago

Great thread, there is some really helpful info in here. I am faced with a decision I am hoping you will be able to help me with. I am building my first system and am still a little new at some of this. I want a system that will handle lots of photo and video editing and lots of music encoding etc. I dont do much with computer games I have a 360 for that. I need it to have lots of storage and Im thinking of going with a RAID 1 setup as I have lots of data that I cant loose. I was given an older server board with a dual processor socket setup made for xeon processors with a 800mhz fsb. So far I have only been able to determine that it will support a single or a dual core xeon. (I think) I am also researching some of the new i7 boards especially the ones with usb 3.0 and sata 6gb/s. I am wondering which system will be better to build, should I go with the workstation or the new and fast? Which one do you think will perform better? Im not that familiar with dual socket boards. Is the i7 920 better than two dual core xeons? I think the i7 would be a little more future proof but the setup Im looking at is about $200-300 more than the workstation. Thanks for any help and keep up the good work.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for the kind words. As for my recommendations, it's i7 all the way. No comparison at all. The i7 920 with a RAID 1 is exactly the system I have and it's a warp drive ride. Whatever the extra cost you have to confront it's more than worth it. I don't do much music encoding but do very heavy photo editing and it's just jaw-dropping fast and super stable. I'm a total fan of the i7s!

M Bush 6 years ago

This is for Hal Licino. Along with your Intel i7 processor, Photoshop CS4 and 12 GBs of RAM, what are you using for a Graphics Card (e.g. nVidia Quadro 1500, 580 or something else)?

justinsane 6 years ago

thanks again Hal you confirmed my suspicions...

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

M Bush, I'm getting along just fine with a 4670. I do zero gaming, so the specs and performance on that card are perfectly fine. I have never noted any task where the card couldn't keep up with what I do.

justinsane, have fun and enjoy your i7! I know I do! :)

triple t 6 years ago

Hi Hal I see your really great with computers, so I figered to ask you my question. Could you please tell me what is Ghz(gigahertz). like when a game requires 3.2ghz and I have a dual core at 2.6ghz will the game work at normal speed? And what does the ghz do when playing a game? Please answer. ;-)

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

GHz is just like the speed of a car. Some sportscars can do 260 km/hr but the one that does 320 km/hr will beat it. Now if your game specifies 3.2 GHz (and I don't know of any right off hand that have minimums that high) then you need to also check what it specifies for cores. Generally the sweet spot for most games is a dual core. You have to adhere to whatever the manufacturer states.

triple t 6 years ago

thanks 4 the advice. And keep on with your good work I really have learnt a lot from you.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thank you for the kind words, much appreciated... and I'm glad to help whenever I can! :)

LitShade 6 years ago

u said ur core i7 was phenomenal so is it better than a core 2 duo processor ?? and is a core i3 better than a core 2 duo ?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Well those are very indepth answers that call for a whole bunch of benchmarks, but I'll give you the Reader's Digest version.

Let's compare the dual cores: Core 2 duo has two cores. Core i3 has two cores. BUT the i3 is an entirely different architecture that is much faster, uses less juice, generates less heat, and is based on a socket which you can upgrade to i5 and beyond. So absolutely no comparison, go with the i3. However, as much as the i3 is better than the 2 duo, the i7 smokes it. The i7 is quad core on an even more powerful platform, architecture and socket than the i3 and it's the current rocketship. The lowest i7 will EAT any other non i7 processor from Intel or AMD in the known universe. :)

borge_009 profile image

borge_009 6 years ago from Philippines

Thanks for the info. I'm Planning to make a pc but still haven't found the right hardwares. Thanks

JustAGirl 6 years ago

So glad I came upon this! You are very thoughtful to be sharing your expertise.

I need to decide between the following:

~Intel Core 2 quad Q8300

~Intel Core i3-540 dual core

~Intel Core i5-750 quad core

Thanks for your time...

Stephen 6 years ago

Hi Hal, I just finished reading the page, thankyou, your easy on the ears. I have a question regarding Memory Types. The more expensive i7-920 is DDR3-800/1066 and the cheaper i5-750 is higher at DDR3-1066/1333, on top of that DDR3 RAM is being sold at speeds of 1600, 1800, 1866, 2000, 2133 & 2200. Your explanation is much anticipated.

Penance 6 years ago

Hi Hal, great thread with no nonsense explanations, im wondering if you have any experience with music production laptops, ive had a look at the dell studio xps 16 and it does look like a great spec, but ive heard that previous grounding issues with some manufacturers produces an audible buzz when using ac power, if im going to shell out 1500 english quid i need to be sure im not going to get the wrong stup, any advice would be greatly appreciated although im sure you're busy after 3 years of posting on this topic....hope all is good...Penance

X-Ray_Dog 6 years ago

Hi, Hal! Thanks a lot for your extra info about processors! You really know what you're talking about, unlike other threads where people talk about useless comparisons between dual and quad. I want to know, is quad better for games than the dual? Because I found in a shop, a PC with the following specs: AMD Athlon II X4 2.8 Ghz, 3 Gb of DDR2 RAM (whit maximum expansion to 4Gb), an ATI HD4350 1 Gb, HDD 500GB, SATA at 7200 rpm. I am 15, so I play a lot. Should I go for it or get a dual? Because I've seen an AMD Athlon II X2 at 3.1 Ghz and looks pretty good, but I'm afraid of falling behind in the future. So which is better? Dual or Quad? And the last one, what should I get? XP SP2 or W7? I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions but I really don't know what to do.

Thanks in advance!

oscar 6 years ago

Benchmarks: (photoshop CS5 64bit: 21 mpx imageat 16 bit.lens blur 100%) OsX leopard 64 bit.

imac dualcore 2,40ghz 4Gb DDR2 = 45 sec.

quadcore Q6600 at 3Gz, 8 Gb DDR2 = 41 sec.

one core working 100%, one core working, at +-30%. in quad... 2 cores on holidays.

Next time, i'?l try After effects for processing this 21mpx images... ;)

medstudent 6 years ago

Hey Hal,

I'm planning on building a new computer very soon. If I provide you with a list of the component parts, would you be able to tell me if they'd be appropriate for me and my usage patterns?

Thanks in advance,


Mohamed 6 years ago

hey i'm thinking of swapping my e8400 for the q9550

what do u think hence i'm a heavy gamer

Sic 6 years ago

Hal, I'm not a gamer, but when I'm on the computer, I do run alot of apps at the same time like web surfing (multiple windows),itunes, limewire, yahoo chat, etc. all while running several different poker sites(multi-tabling), ALL running at the same time. 3.2 dual or 2.6+ quad??? Thanks for all the great advice!!!

CG Cai 6 years ago


Get the quad core to give yourself a little more elbow room. Though honestly, your work-load is hardly CPU-intensive, and would execute just as fine on a modern dual core.

chewbacca 6 years ago

Hi hal just a quick 1 i have a quad core q9400 and runs at 2.66 ght dose that mean it runs at 2.66 ght per core and when do you think they will bring out all the software and games to support multi core processors thanks.

FB Siphon 6 years ago

It really depends on the work you are going to do.

Lydia 6 years ago

Great Article, thanks for explaining this in such a clear manner for the average computer users. I am trying to decide between an:

- Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-450M Dual Core processor (2.40GHz, 3MB L3 Cache)with Turbo Boost up to 2.66 GHz

- Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-720QM Quad Core processor (1.6GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) with Turbo Boost up to 2.8 GHz [+$150.00]

for my HP dv6t (customized).

I will get 8G ram (only $100 more with 4th of July special) since I deal with large data sets and I was wondering if you would recomend Quad Core. I was even seriously considering the HP ENVY 15 since it has 4 slots and I could add more memory later [up to 16G] but I am afraid that is too much for a laptop [yet]).

I would REALLY appreciate your advice. THANKS

adorababy profile image

adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

Before, I totally have no idea of what the computer world is talking about this different processors. But with changing times, you have to adapt as well to stay current. I totally agree with you that you don't need to have the latest processor. Depending on your computer needs, the single core could actually be very useful contrary to what others might think.

Kim 6 years ago

Wow.... You wrote this 3 years ago and still getting compliments?! ... That's awesome... Let me add one more.

I am a computer engineer, but find myself always checking and "double" checking that I can explain things in plain english to my customers. You have "dumbed" this information down in such an easy, readable and funny way! Thanks so much Sir. If I didn't like the current President so much, I might request a special exception for a certain Canadian ;-)


Justin 6 years ago

Gday Hal,

Let the people know your operating system can have a large impact on your relative running desktop speeds. Go Open Source, or Go Home. Go Ubuntu (linux), for increased desktop performance. :D

Double AA 6 years ago

Operating system Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Processor Intel Core i5-450M processor 2.40GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.66 GHz

Processor speed 2.40GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.66 GHz

Memory 4GB DDR3 System Memory (2 DIMM); Max supported = 8GB

Accessible memory slots 2

Display 17.3" diagonal High Definition+(8) HP BrightView LED Display (1600 x 900)

Video graphics ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 Graphics with up to 2815MB total available graphics memory with 1024MB dedicated

Audio Beats Audio and HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer

Is the following a good Laptop to purchase for gaming?

any guidance is greatly appreciated.

Primary CD/DVD drive LightScribe Blu-ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD?R/RW Double Layer Support

Hard drive 640GB (7200RPM) Hard Drive (SATA) with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection

Jim 6 years ago

I'm looking at an HP p6540f with a AMD Phenom 2 830 quad core vs a HP p6330f with a Intel i3 530. I like your thinking on buying ahead of the curve. Which of these do you think is better? Prices are about the same. I'm just an average computer user, not big into games. Thanks for any guidance.

JB 6 years ago

Finally someone who speaks to the consumer.

Why is it that there are millions of websites with all sorts of data that tell us nothing, and there are hardly any plain speaking websites like this one that tell us all we need to know.

I think it's a conspiracy by computer geeks to take over the world!

Dylan King 6 years ago

Hey dude! this really helped me understand processors perfectly! But to be sure, I was wondering if you could tell me if this-- Intel® Core™ i5-540M Mobile Processor (2x 2.53GHz/3MB L3 Cache) is better than --- Intel® Core™ i7-740QM Mobile Processor (4x 1.73GHz/6MB L3 Cache)and why? Also, what does the (x)MB mean?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Sorry I've been gone from this comments section for a while. Thanks for the kind words everyone! The MB is the amount of cache that's right on the CPU. That cache is used as very high speed ram to hold frequently used instructions. Which one you use is up to you. If most of your software can take advantage of the quad's multithreading, then go with the i7 quad. If you're using more or less standard apps, you'll be happier with the i5-540.

Dylan King 6 years ago

Okay thanks alot. I was just wondering because I'm replacing my current with a new laptop and gearing up for the upcoming MMO Guild Wars2. The i7 quad would be better for gaming I assume? The graphics card is well up to snuff so I have no worries there. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around processors :(

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

As of right now Guild Wars 2 has not announced its multithreading requirements but my guess would be that it will require three cores at least for maximum performance, so the quad would be better. If it's not multithreaded, then you'd be better off with the i5-540.

Gdesign 6 years ago

Hi Hal,

Thank you for your thread.

What are your thoughts on the imacs? I will be running CS5 premium for print production, photo editing and web design. I was going to settle with the Intel core i3 3.2 ghz dual core because of price but after reading your above info im looking at the Intel core i5 2.8ghz quad core. Also what are your thoughts on running CS5 on a pc.

Thank you

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I use my CS4 every day on my i7 920 and it FLIES. For the CS package, you need TONS OF RAM, as many cores as possible, and a great GPU as it uses it for processing. The i5 quad is acceptable, but I'd opt for a much stronger quad from the i7 or i9 line. Tip to the wise. RAM RAM AND MORE RAM. I saw CS4 use up all but 700K of my 12GB RAM. As for the Mac vs. PC on CS, it's all eye candy. Both work the same.

Gdesign 6 years ago

Great to wake up to your speedy reply!

Read in your past threads that the quad core laptops aren't up to speed as yet. Considering what I need to run would you stick to desktops?

PS exciting reading what you say about your photoshop flying. I'm so used to waiting!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I went from a Core 2 Q8300 quad to the i7 and the difference is astounding. However, keep in mind that it's primarily RAM related. I would never ever ever run CS4 on a laptop. I have a 27" screen and wouldn't want to lose a pixel. Plus, unless you have to do graphics in client's locations, why handicap yourself with a mobile processor? Desktops all the way! :)

student 6 years ago

Hi Hal,

Thanks for all the excellent info above!

Could you please advice me which programs in CS5 premium make use of the quad core? Looking at getting a dual core and spending the extra money on RAM. 12mb as you suggested.

Also any idea on what the around about speed difference is on an i5 to the i7. Does it depend on what program you use and if so which programs are benefited in CS5.

Thank you

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks. In CS5 the whole suite is multithreading optimized and you'll see the best utilizations in Photoshop and Incopy. i5 and i7 overlap to some degree, but the fastest CPUs are in the high end of the i7s. The 930 right now seems to be at a sweet spot in the performance vs. cost equation. You can't go wrong with that setup with the 12 GB RAM. :)

Ramprashad 6 years ago

Thanks for writing this article. It is very informative.

Right now, I am using a Gateway NV5927U laptop (Intel Core i5-430M 2.26 GHz, 4GB DDR3, 320GB HDD (5400 rpm), Intel GMA HD - 128 MB of dedicated video memory, Windows 7 Premium - 64 bit) along with my ASUS 24 in LCD monitor.

I recently bought Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended Student Edition. I may buy HD Camcorder within next few months. I am not planning to play games using my system.

Recently, I bought a HP Desktop p6510f (Quad-core 2.8GHz AMD Athlon II X4 630 processor, 750 GB HDD (7200 rpm), 4GB of DDR3 memory, ATI Radeon HD 4200, Windows 7 Premium - 64 bit). I haven't opened it yet. I need to decide, whether to keep it or not.

Based upon your article and other articles, I learned that Photoshop will perform much better in Quad core. It appears that the integrated graphics card of this sytem will not target hardcore gamers. What about HD video editing ?

Thanks in advance.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

The weak link in your desktop system is the 4200 card. You may want to just upgrade that element to around a mid 5000 series like a 5570. That should be a good match to get the work done that you want.

Dylan King 6 years ago

Intel® Core™ i7-620M 2.66GHz (3.33Ghz Turbo Mode, 4M cache)

Intel® Core™ i7 740QM Quad Core Processor, 1.73GHz (2.93GHz Turbo Mode, 6M Cache

they're the same price. So quad would be the best option?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

i7-740QM all the way. Although the 32nm process of the i7-620M Arrandale core is tasty and alluring over the 45nm Clarkfield (at least to cutting edge CPU junkies like me), you just can't say no to a quad over a duo even though you're going to be losing about a third of a GHz in max turbo mode. Another advantage of the i7-740QM is that while the i7-620M is stuck with DDR3-800/1066, the i7-740QM takes DDR3-1066/1333 so you have an extra 4 GB/s of bandwidth to play with. Yup, take the extra 392 million transistors and 2MB of cache you're getting for free and RUN! :)

Bob Dole 6 years ago

Intel Core i7 Extreme Processors-

Intel® Core™ i7 920XM 2.0GHz (3.2GHz Turbo Mode, 8MB Cache

Intel®Core i7 940XM 2.0GHz (3.2GHz Turbo Mode, 8MB Cache)

which is better? Top one is for a 17" laptop and the bottom is for a 15.6 I think.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

6 of 1, half dozen of the other. You'll never tell the diff unless you're running benchmarking software and even then it will be minute. Get whichever one you can get at a better price. Just keep in mind that although Intel uses deceptive nomenclature neither one of them are even in the same ballpark as their desktop cousins. :)

Bob Dole 6 years ago

Oh yeah I definatly know that :P I just really hate desktops, been stuck at one my entire life. I wwant to be able to take it out on the deck or the coffee table, you know? anyways, thanks for your help.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Yup, as long as you know that you're fine. It's an almost universal ploy that similarly named laptop processors underperform their desktop stablemates! :)

lstran 6 years ago

Hi Hal,

We are in the process of shopping for new computer. We use it for the basic stuff (spreadsheets, email, internet) but my son likes to play a few online games. Would we be better off buying a Dell Inspiron 580 with the i3-540 processor with 4GB DDR3 Memory and 1 TB HD or an HP with a quad core processor.

Thank you!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

All depends on your budget. If you're watching your $, then go with the i3 as it's a more than adequate rig.

Bob Dole 6 years ago

Back again. I'm thinking of holding off my purchase for a few months in the hope that components become cheaper. Is that a reality? I'm ordering from Alienware by the way.

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Computers get cheaper by the week. Sandy Bridge which is the next tick in the Intel tick tock strategy is due out as early as October (more likely before Christmas) and that is going to be a totally killer platform. That will automatically drop down the price of the current (at least higher end) members of the iX family by 20% of more across the board.

Bob Dole 6 years ago

Huh.. that's really cool. I just read an article about Sandy Bride, sounds cool. Hopefully it make my build cheap enough so I can bump up my GPU

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Actually, Sandy Bridge has the GPU right on the CPU chip, but it's still not clear exactly what the capabilities will be on the video front, so you might still want to use a separate video card. Again, the picture is still fuzzy and will likely remain so until about a month or so before the launch of the chip.

verne rind 6 years ago

Great thread,imac question, I'm looking at a 27"imac I do no gaming only basic computing skills but want to do adobe photoshop,some home video editing, and music Recording and editing of my own band. Will the duo core be sufficient? or is it mandatory to run a quad?

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Photoshop and vid edit... Quad all the way. Don't waste your money on a dual. :)

verne rind 6 years ago

Hal Thank you so much, your response,was as fast as I am sure my new Quad Imac will be

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

My pleasure. Enjoy your Quadmac! :)

Will 6 years ago

I was thinking about getting an iMac with the i5. I play some games, but they tend to be older games, and I don't do any video editing at the moment. Would the 3.6GHz i5 with hyper-threading be a better choice than the quad-core i5 that doesn't support hyper-threading? Or, should I just suck it up and go for the i3? I also do some Java programming and possibly some other languages in the future for courses at University, but as far as I can tell the stuff I'm doing isn't too CPU intensive. Thanks for the very informative website!

Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

A multicore without hyperthreading is like a hot dog without a bun. Fairly pointless. Always get HT. Even if you don't need all of it today, you will tomorrow. :)

g4user 6 years ago

Hi Hal what a great thread. I am looking at getting an imac or maybe a mac mini refurbished possibly, I already have a G4 with 1.75mb 1.25ghz processor. I mainly want my computer to do audio and video recording and editing my budget is not huge, hence the consideration of refurbished items do you have any suggestions about which processor would be ideal for my purposes and budget.

Jeff A 6 years ago

Hi i have question I been looking on

a few desktops and most of them

Have IntelHD for graphics are they

Any good to be ur graphic card?

For online Mmorpg 3d games

Kelly W 6 years ago

Does having a quad core make any sense if I'm writing programs in visual basic?

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