Dual Core vs Quad Core

I`ve been so out of touch with anything tech-y for the last 10 years so thought that perhaps GWJ collective mind could help me out here. I`m about to send my PC for an upgrade (damn you XCOM), Win7 upgrade, new videocard, additional HDD. And then I remembered I do have an older PC laying around, which might perhaps be cannibalized. Specifically, it has Intel Core 2 Quad 2.40Ghz while my current PC has Core 2 Duo 2.93Ghz.
Shouldn't..the 4 cores be better?
It's kinda not too important, since the processor upgrade wasnt high on my list besides, I`m not sure it wasnt the processor problem that made me abandon the old PC (would boot up only once in 4 tries, preboot screen sometimes arcanely mentioned the CPU not working or being changed), might have been a motherboard problem or some power thingie, I havent got the foggiest idea.
Still, if I could get a nice boost for less money, I wouldnt mind that at all.

Well... the short version is, it depends on what you're doing, what OS you're running (Win7 here, as you noted), and what specific chips you're comparing. For example, the E6600 (dual core) was generally better for gaming than the Q6600 (quad core), but that was due to the architecture, individual core clocking, and distribution of on-die cache.

Well, it's my home office machine which basically means I both work and play on it The games is what's the upgrade is about. My work is visual design and illustration but I don't need much resources for that. No resources-draining 3D or video schtuff. I`m still on Photoshop 7 although that's gonna change with the switch to Win7. Prolly CS2 I`m very slow adapter

I'm currently using a conroe dual core. For games available right now most are fine or tolerable, and you get a few that are choked on the CPU. However, if you're building a PC now, you want it to last for a while, but not go too far down the road looking for the fabled unicorn of 'future-proofing', note that I said "not too far down the road", not don't go down that road at all.

More and more games (and some software) are looking for more cores, and all the intel i5s are quads which are what I would consider a good value mainstream gaming chip right now. It would seem to me though that if you were looking to save a few bucks, you could easily go for a modern dual core (i3) and not constrain yourself for current gaming much at all.

The only wrinkle I can see on the horizon right now is the next lot of consoles for which games are in development now, although they've yet to be officially announced or dated or spec'ed, and there will be a cross-over period of adaptation. If playing the next-gen console ports is important to you, I could see two approaches, try to second-guess it now and get a nice powerful PC that might match the spec, or get a more modest PC for right now, and think about upgrading in a few years when you can make an informed decision (I guess the equivalent of getting a C2Q Q6600, 4GB RAM and a 8800 back in 2006).

Hmm, I guess I`ll sit and wait with the CPU upgrade for now. Early next year I might do a proper system upgrade, right now I`m just looking to extend the life of my system a little.

Yeah, from what I can gather unless I could get a LGA775 quad for a trivial price, the only viable option that's an upgrade from my conroe is going to a sandy/ivy bridge. So, spend £80 on a Q6600 or around £250 on i5 3450, and mobo/ram, thinking long term there's no point throwing money at the old socket.

Your CPU beats the minimum requirements on XCOM so I definitely wouldn't bother with that until you really need it.

Single-threaded performance is what currently counts with most games. That is, how fast does a single thread of execution, on a single core, run? The great majority of the time, the ability to run a single core quickly is much more important than running a bunch of cores, slowly. This is starting to change, but even then, most games that are multi-threaded see the greatest speed boost with the second core, and very rapidly diminishing returns with each additional one after that. A fast dual core chip is usually much better than a slower quad; X-Com is the first game I've seen that actually outright says the opposite, that it runs better on four cores, needing less speed per CPU. I could certainly have missed other games that did this, but that's the first time I've seen it myself.

Eventually, this will probably become the norm, but that could be a ways off. Multithreaded, multiprocessor programming is much harder than single threads of execution.

What you could look into is overclocking that quadcore. Many of those C2 chips overclocked like crazy. If you can get it up to 3GHz, and stay stable, that would still be pretty kickass for most games. The Core 2 has good throughput per clock, and at 3Ghz, most games run very nicely, even demanding single-threaded titles.

Most wrote:

I`m still on Photoshop 7 although that's gonna change with the switch to Win7. Prolly CS2 I`m very slow adapter :D

To my knowledge, there hasn't been a necessary update to Photoshop since version 7. CS is nice, and the newer version interfaces look better and all, but I've not noticed deficiencies in the functionality of 7 when going back to it. I think if you're gonna update photoshop, you might want to consider CS5 since it has predictive fill. Otherwise, unless you have a specific reason for it, not sure why you would upgrade. As a bit of history, I'm running CS3 at work, and have worked on every previous version since 3 (including 5.5) since starting in highschool.

I love my hex-core CPU. Not a big deal for gaming, but it sure makes running multiple VMs a dream:


Yeah, even a quadcore's pretty good for that. But with 6, you can dedicate two to VMs, and still have four left over.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

To my knowledge, there hasn't been a necessary update to Photoshop since version 7.

Yeh, that's why I never bothered, brushing is what I use it for 90% of the time. And I rarely need to do print work so even the size limits dont concern me. However, I`m not sure that PS7 will work in x64 system. In fact, I`m rather sure it will not.

Thanks for all the answers everyone. Except for you yesui. You are plain weird.