Weekend open forum: How many CPU cores power your PC today?

By on September 19, 2008, 6:31 PM
There was a time when clock speeds were all the rage, and reaching the gigahertz mark in consumer CPUs was like this golden milestone so far away from realization. Then after several decades of continuous clock speed bumps, somewhere in the road, Intel and AMD stopped pushing for pure raw power and ultimately the 4GHz mark never came to be – overclocking aside, of course.

Instead efficiency and performance per watt have become the new rule upon which processors are judged, and increasing the number of cores on a single processor package is considered the new exploitable tool that will deliver actual processing power increases in the future to come.

Dual core processors are quite common today, and quad CPUs have also become affordable over the last 12 months. Future architectures are also pointing towards multi core designs, eight or more. But unlike pure raw processing power increases, multi core processors rely more heavily on software optimizations to deliver the intended results. Which begs the questions…

How many cores does your current CPU have? Do you think more cores will make your computer run faster? Do you know if the software you use is optimized for multi core CPUs? Was a core count bump part of your last PC upgrade? And finally, do you believe quad core CPUs are pure novelty considering today's software standards?


User Comments: 23

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supersmashbrada said:
core 2 duo running presently, overclocked of course. I couldnt even say how many programs I have that may be optimized for my cpu.
camuss15 said:
>I have a Core 2 Duo E4300 (two cores). >I would love to upgrade to a quad core, but I will probably wait until the Core i7 processors are released. >ConvertXtoDVD is optimized for multiple core processors, as are the majority of the games I play. >I upgraded from a single core cpu a little over a year ago. >I think quad core processors are only going to become more prevalent as newer software is released supporting multiple cores, and for now, quad cores are great for multitasking!
Soul Harvester said:
Before dual-core systems were available, I was always a fan of SMP systems. I have owned many, many dual-processor systems since I first started to get into computing. I own a dual Pentium 133 system, dual Pentium 233MHz MMX system, dual Celeron 533MHz, dual Pentium III 600MHz, dual Pentium III 1.12GHz, dual Athlon MP 2100+ and some others.When dual-core processors started becoming available, I only saw it as a good thing. There was a huge advantage - the next time I wanted a dual processor system I could save quite a bit of time and money. Less CPU hardware, less heatsink hardware, less fan hardware, less power consumption... single socket boards once again and more.I've since traded in most of my systems for dual core. I have four dual-core systems and two single-core systems left. For a home user, quad core IS a novelty - for now. It is going to take a while, several years, for software to catch up.
captain828 said:
-How many cores does your current CPU have? 2 cores (C2D E6600 @ 3.2GHz)-Do you think more cores will make your computer run faster? Debatable; it depends what apps I'm using. If I'm gaming... no, if I'm running multiple demanding apps... yes Also it depends heavily on what type of apps I'm using; if I'm encoding... hhm, when are octocores launching again?? -Do you know if the software you use is optimized for multi core CPUs? I'd use the term multi-core sparingly; most of the software these days is optimized for dual-core CPUs and this includes most new games. Software optimized for more than two cores is pretty limited these days. Generally most well known productivity software (Adobe apps, 3DSMax etc.), archiving software (WinRAR, 7zip), encoding software (MPGEnc, WME9, etc.) and Windows Vista (when multitasking). Also multi core CPU benchmarks... ;)-Was a core count bump part of your last PC upgrade? Sincerely... no; I had an ancient Pentium 4 @ 1.7GHz.... imagine the shock of going directly to a C2D (hello multitasking!)-Do you believe quad core CPUs are pure novelty considering today's software standards? NO! If they were, they wouldn't exist for consumer PCs. They are extremely beneficial when multitasking... and we all know that even an octocore can be put to its knees by this thing alone (in capable OSes, of course). They are useful in Ai and/or physics heavy games (SupCom anyone?)... if the games are optimized of course. There are many games these days optimized for quad core CPUs... the problem is not many of them use them under normal scenarios. Example: a QX9770 with a GTX280 in Crysis @ Very High @ 19x12 doesn't use the 4 available cores... a QX9770 @ 4GHz with 3x GTX280s in SLi makes use of the extra cores, but only because of the extra cycles required for tri-SLi (or quad-SLi or CrossfireX, for that matter) Also, they are a blessing for (us) encoders, sometimes cutting the time for an encode in half. "today's software standards"... I don't think you'd expect all new software to be multi core optimized, do you? I mean, it doesn't make much sense wasting time on optimizing Firefox to use 4 cores for example. Why? a C2D/Phenom dual core CPU is sufficiently powerful to browse the internet. As stated in Soul Harvester's comment above, for a basic user quad core is a novelty... mostly because this refers to people limited to: browsing the internet, writing a Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, watching a movie (hell, even a bluray), sending an e-mail, using an IM (probably with voip support) and playing solitaire or a web browser game.[Edited by captain828 on 2008-09-19 18:57:21]
DarkCobra said:
I have two duo core computers running Vista Home Premium and one quad core 64bit running Vista Home Premium. I have to admit the quad core is probably overkill for my needs as I'm not even a gamer but I also have to admit this machine is frightening fast and has spoiled me. Now I'm seeing six core machines about to hit the market and I wonder why?
hamsteyr said:
I'm currently on my Q6600 @ 3.4 Ghz machine, and i'd like to also say that even for a normal gamer, the Quad core is a novelty. Its just bragging rights in many cases. Games these days are still not quite optimised to run on Quad Cores, and they actually run with better FPS on Dual Cores..As to why people would buy Quad Cores? well, if you have the need for it then go right ahead.For example, i do plenty of video encoding and editing, as well at 3d Studio Max rendering. In terms of what this means is something like a car's acceleration. Moving at 40kmph and 41kmph might not mean much to some but in the long run you inevitably travel faster.Its pretty much the same case for me as i can't really afford to wait forever to wait for each render to complete, and its SUCH a pain waiting for them on single or dual core machines.If any gamer were to ask me for suggestions, i'd say stick to dual. No reason to go quad for the moment, let alone 6 core. You'd probably sit and watch as 2 cores only get into load >_>
skitzo_zac said:
I am running a C2D E6300 OC'd @ 2.45GHz. I can't really comment on the performace of cores as I upgraded from a system that was an Athlon 64 3000+ 1GB or RAM with a 6600GT to my current system with my C2D an 8800GTS and 2GB of RAM. Generally my computer is alot faster than my old machine especially when it comes to gaming. I probably will upgrade to a Nehalem based quad core in the next year or so though.
ElShotte said:
Recent upgrade was from a Pentium D 2.8 Ghz (stock) to a Core 2 Quad. When I first got this new PC, I was running it with my old video card, and in games like Crysis, there was absolutely no difference to the CPU change. ConvertXtoDVD went from 30 min for my average sized file to 17 so I am happy with that increase. I also do a bit of 3D, and I have to say my render times are basically half of what they were with mentalray. So yeah, no apparent difference in gaming performance, however for programs that do take advantage of the CPU's cores, such as the mentalray renderer or ConvertXtoDVD, the increase in performance is indeed very clear, so it is a must for anyone that does video editing or rendering, basically CPU heavy stuff. So yeah, I would also have to agree with Quad Core being a novelty for a regular user, since in general browsing and usage, I did not see a difference in performance.
pcnthuziast said:
2 cores in the form of E4600 @ stock
RhettLR said:
I am running with 4 cores and am extremely glad that I am out of the ice age. due to the need to earn a living, I don't sit in my parents basement playing games. I know this might sound strange but I use my computer to work and the more cores the better. Yes, it made a huge performance difference and thank god it did. It is no novelty even though not every software title takes advantage of multi core CPUs. However, my OS does, so when I am working on a draft memo while burning a DVD and rendering some video for a client, I'll take all the frackin' core you got. It is a matter of priorities, like everything else in this life and you must match you multi or even duo core CPU with the other components in your case. It is the old adage "your stereo is only as good as the worst part", if you have a wimpy board, video cards, ram, etc., don't whine about the number (or lack thereof) of core in your CPU. There is so much more to life and computing than GAMES.
mr_mack said:
I am currently running an Athlon 64 3600+ single core. When I purchased the computer I had the option to go dual core but stuck to single core mainly for the applications I was using. I rarely use it for gaming, but mainly for photo editing and other random tasks such as file and music compression. No doubt a multi core processor would increase the speed of the computer, but only if I was to use it for many intensive programs at once (which I have only needed to do a handful of times)I don't think quad core processors are worthwhile yet (or anything more than two for that matter). They will be eventually but if I was to upgrade today then I wouldn't bother with them.
zsj said:
I currently have an AMD Anthlon64 AM2+ DualCore 3ghz 6000+ Processor =Dlast system = AmD anthlon XP 2.5ghz 2900+my next system WILL have a quadcore
redk said:
I currently run 4 cores on my desktop (Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3.0 Ghz) and 2 cores on my laptop (Turion 64 X2 @ 1.8 GHz). I saw a huge performance increase in all areas coming from a single core FX-55.
Rage_3k_Moiz said:
I have a QX9650 and upgraded from a QX6700 purely so I could have the best CPU for my machine. I game heavily and also use a lot of engineering programs so speed is crucial. The new chip is far cooler but the speed increase is nominal, although noticeable.
nirkon said:
How many cores does your current CPU have? C2DDo you think more cores will make your computer run faster? No, depends on the software (or games which currently show 2 cores in the lead), maybe in the future.Do you know if the software you use is optimized for multi core CPUs? not sure about all of them as i use a lot of software, but for the most part, yes.Was a core count bump part of your last PC upgrade? Yes, upgrade from p4 3.00ghz.And finally, do you believe quad core CPUs are pure novelty considering today's software standards? Not entirely, the standard is modernizing very quickly.
Quantex_rox said:
I just upgraded from a A64 3200+ to a A64x2 5000+ 2.6ghz, and I couldn't be happier. I was thinking about going with a phenom, but to me thats overkill. For gaming on high settings, a 8600GT (2 sli'd soon,) 4 gigs of ram, and a 5000+ is more than enough.
adhmuz said:
I am currently running a Q6600 between 2.7GHz and 3.0GHz, having more cores helps with running multiple programs at once. Playing a game while trans coding video and folding with no loss in performance. Most newer games are threaded for two cores, but video editing software uses all four cores. Having gone from a single core to a quad gave a much bigger boost in performance then I was expecting. Quad cores are here to stay, we will only be making them faster and increasing the core count in the future to come.
halo2freeek said:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+. 3.0GHz dual core, not overclocked or modified in any way at all. I feel that 3.0 GHz is plenty.
x darthmonkey x said:
Core2Quad Q6600. Quad-core systems also have another advantage, something hidden away somewhere. Processes and programs optimized for single thread/single core processors may be locked to a single core on multi-core processors for a performance increase, at least in Windows Vista.Setting the program's Affinity to Core 3, rather than spreading it across all four cores, can increase your multitasking performance, as well as the performance of many individual programs which are not yet optimized for multiple cores. It would be nice if this were implemented in a more automatic sense, but there are probably technical or stability issues keeping this from reality.As for right now, four cores is probably the practical limit for most people. Until we get software optimized for many-core processing (something more difficult than one may imagine), it's best for most people to be satisfied with their dual-core processors, and for power-users to possibly opt for quads.
ddg4005 said:
I'm running a 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad (G0 stepping) in my second box. It's cooled by Zalman's CNPS 8700 NT cooler (love that thing!).So far there isn't a program it can't handle with aplomb. And paired up with ASUS's EN9800GT Ultimate (128 shaders enabled) even Crysis sails along smoothly at 1280x1024 with High Settings and 2X anti-aliasing.
TorturedChaos said:
My machine at home does not have a dual core CPU(AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 2.2ghz), and I notice the difference between it and my machine I use at work (AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core 4200+ 2.21 Ghz). Even though the speed of the cores are almost exacltly the same (2.2ghz), and they both have 2 gigs of ram, I get much better performance from multi-tasking, working with photoshop & Illustrator. Don't know on games since its a work machine, no games on it.All though, the machine I use at work was built for graphic design, and I know it has quality parts. Better MoBo, HDD with a faster data transfer rate, MUCH better video card, and most likely better quality RAM (also its 2 1gig sticks, as apposed to 4 512 sticks in my home pc, not sure if that makes a difference though).Over all though, much nicer to have dual core. I dont know how I would survive at work w/o the dual cores. I work doing signs, so I work with large documents. Not so bad when I'm doing vector work, but raster takes for ever doing a 4ft x 8ft sign even with the dual cores. Plus the wide format Roland printer we use RIP's in the computer, not the printer, so it takes heavy RAM and CPU usage to print large raster files. Right now I am printing a 4ft x 6ft drawing and I'm using between 15% - 50% of both cores of my CPU and the file has already been ripped. While ripping that file it sat steady at 60% on both cores. No why I could have done that and used Illustrator at the same time with a single core.the new machine I plan on building for my personal use will be absolutely be dual core.[Edited by TorturedChaos on 2008-09-22 15:52:49]
bun-bun said:
I currently own a QX6700. The first quad. It sits between 3.0 and 3.6Ghz depending on what cooling I have on it at the time. I can get 3.3Ghz on air and I am sure with some effort I could get 3.8GHz on water but I haven't tried to push it that far yet.I know a lot of applications are not optimized for dual cores (or quad's for that matter) and I personally like it that way until processors have a lot more cores on them. I am a huge multiasker. My typical usage is gaming while surfing the web and downloading torrents all while streaming video's to my media center. Could I do all that without my quad? no. I went from a 2.8GHz M0 stepping Galatin (for those of you who dont remember they were the crippled extreme edition northwoods. Same chip in everyway minus L3 cache) clocked to 3.5Ghz on air. Sweet system lasted me 4 years before I upgraded to my QX6700. Now I don't know how I ever lived without the quad. I have since built many dual core systems for friends and for most things dual is plenty but for my extreme multi tasking... the quad makes a HUGE difference. Also I have notice a lot of calculation intensive applications like video editing, number crunching ect. bog down the system a lot less. This is due to the increased cache of a quad more then anything. with my E6850 I found my computer coming to a crawl when encoding some video's while I can encode two video's at the same time (with no slow down on the encoding) and still be able to play a game with my QX6700. And that software is not multi core optimized. The only game to date that I know of that takes a significant boost in performance between dual and quad is Supreme Commander. However getting at least a dual core (can you even buy single core anymore?) will give you a boost in all games due to the simple fact your OS and drivers don't have to share the same core as the game. So no I don't think multi cores is a novelty however quad's may not really be beneficial to everyone and the overclock you can get on duals (and lower power consumption) would make more sense to the majority of users. However to really take advantage of any more then 4 cores I beleive we will need a lot more optimization in software and games. Though I also don't beleive that we should be optimizing software to utilize all the cores availible as that IMO defeats part of the purpose of multiple cores... multitasking. If one app/game can use all your resources then were just back to a single core design essentially. [Edited by bun-bun on 2008-09-24 09:58:46]
captaincranky said:
I have a little tiny E2200 Pentium Dual Core, at stock speed (2.2Ghz), and the program that I can say for certain pegs the needle on both cores is good old Nero 6. Advanced analysis is up near 800 to 1000 FPS, versus usually less that 400 on a P4 3.06 or a 3.20 Celeron. I think Photoshop has long been optimized for dual cores, as it has been adapted to dual processor workstations for many years. PS & PSE give the processor detection info on the launch screen
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