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

Updated on March 20, 2011

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.

 

Check out hundreds of Hal's PC Technology articles in these categories:

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    • profile image

      Kelly W 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      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

    • profile image

      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.

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto

      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. :)

    • profile image

      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
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      Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto

      My pleasure. Enjoy your Quadmac! :)

    • profile image

      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
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      Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto

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

    • profile image

      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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Bob Dole 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Bob Dole 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

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

    • profile image

      lstran 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

    • profile image

      Bob Dole 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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. :)

    • profile image

      Bob Dole 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

    • profile image

      Dylan King 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Ramprashad 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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. :)

    • profile image

      student 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

    • profile image

      Gdesign 7 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!

      Thanks

    • Hal Licino profile image
      Author

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Gdesign 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Dylan King 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      Dylan King 7 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?

    • profile image

      JB 7 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!

    • profile image

      Jim 7 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.

    • profile image

      Double AA 7 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

    • profile image

      Justin 7 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

    • profile image

      Kim 7 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 ;-)

      *k

    • adorababy profile image

      adorababy 7 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.

    • profile image

      Lydia 7 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

    • profile image

      FB Siphon 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      chewbacca 7 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.

    • profile image

      CG Cai 7 years ago

      @Sic,

      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.

    • profile image

      Sic 7 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!!!

    • profile image

      Mohamed 7 years ago

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

      what do u think hence i'm a heavy gamer

    • profile image

      medstudent 7 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,

      medstudent

    • profile image

      oscar 7 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... ;)

    • profile image

      X-Ray_Dog 7 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!

    • profile image

      Penance 7 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

    • profile image

      Stephen 7 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.

    • profile image

      JustAGirl 7 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...

    • borge_009 profile image

      borge_009 7 years ago from Philippines

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

    • Hal Licino profile image
      Author

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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. :)

    • profile image

      LitShade 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

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

    • profile image

      triple t 7 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
      Author

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      triple t 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

    • profile image

      justinsane 7 years ago

      thanks again Hal you confirmed my suspicions...

    • profile image

      M Bush 7 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)?

    • Hal Licino profile image
      Author

      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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!

    • profile image

      justinsane 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

    • profile image

      imac ram 7 years ago

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

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      G-MAN 7 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.

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      Victor M 7 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

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

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      Mal 7 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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

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      John C 7 years ago

      Hal

      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.

      John

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      parth 7 years ago

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

      [http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx...]

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

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      parth 7 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

      SONY VAIO VPC-F11KFX/B - Black

      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.

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

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      Cambo 7 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.

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      parth 7 years ago

      and also considering d cache size aswell

      plz reply soon

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      parth 7 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

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

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

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      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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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. :)

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      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 xp....so 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...

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      samantha 7 years ago

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

      - needed help-

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      Thor 7 years ago

      hi can someone help me?

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      Amal 7 years ago

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

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      Amal 7 years ago

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

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      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

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      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?

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      Tom 7 years ago

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

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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.

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      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.

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      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?

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

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      Tom 7 years ago

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

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      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.

    • Hal Licino profile image
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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! :)

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      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
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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

      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!

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      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.

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      Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto

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

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      Michael 7 years ago

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

      Thank you for your help.