More cores or higher GHz?

By nandana · 13 replies
Nov 1, 2010
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  1. Hi there,

    I'm in the process of trying to choose between two laptops but I am getting really confused btween cores and speed.

    On the one hand the first machine is HP Pavilion dv7-4020sa (£549) the processor for which is:

    AMD Phenom™ II X3 P820 Processor
    - 1.8 GHz
    - 1.8 GHz HT (3600 MT/s)
    - 3 x 512 KB L2 Cache

    The full spec is on the pc world website (I cannot post links so apologies)

    The other hand is the HP Pavilion DV6-3032SA (£499)- the processor for which is:
    AMD Phenom II X2 Processor N620
    - 2.8 GHz
    - 1.8 GHz HT
    - 2 MB L2 Cache

    The full spec is on the pc world website (I cannot post links so apologies)

    So my question is simple (I think) is 3 cores with 1.8ghz better than 2 cores with 2.8ghz? I will be doing basic pc usage, web and running some games like football manager 2011 and some rpg games.

    I have tried to give all the info I can - I hope to buy one tonight so any indication which way to go would be appreciated!

    Thanks sooo much
  2. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    more applications will take advantage of the speed of the 2.8Ghz than will the three cores of the 1.8Ghz...unless you are doing some more than the average user type programs. In other words, nearly all programs will take advantage of a higher clock speeds. only some of them will even acknowledge the third core.
  3. nandana

    nandana TS Rookie Topic Starter

    That is what i thought, but both PC world and currys have tried to tell me that more cores are what matters!

    So a dual core with 2.8 would be better than a triple core with 1.8?

    I really appreciate your advice!
  4. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    I was going to essentially state what Red has, but redundancy gets old. lol

    So you might be pleased to see that even the Passmark results for the Phenom II X2 Processor N620 surpass the results for the Phenom™ II X3 P820.

    On a side note, the ATI HD 5470 which is in both of those notebooks is quite nice for a laptop GPU!
  5. nandana

    nandana TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Fab, thanks for taking the time to respond - I'm just am struggling to understand how a dual core processor can be quicker than a triple core processor - am I just being thick? The Phenom II X2 Processor N620 machine is also actually the cheaper of the 2....
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    To put it basically (and without offence to you), the two cores run faster. Applications (software) have to be coded to take advantage of multiple CPU cores, or they won't be able to "see" or use them.

    So a faster dual core cpu, under the right conditions will perform more efficiently than a slower clock speed, triple core cpu. I don't know for certain, but i would imagine most basic software is written to use 1 or 2 cores, and only the more expensive, and resource intensive software written for 3 or more cores. Therefore the third core of the triple core cpu doesn't get used as much when pitted against a dual core cpu.

    The lower clock speed of the triple core cpu will also make the cpu generally slower than the 1GHz faster dual core cpu.

    I'd be choosing the 2.8GHz N620 dual core personally. Ignore what Pc World are saying, they're the last place I'd turn to for advice - Granted some people might know what they're talking about, but in my experiences of them the vast majority of them don't. In fact the last time I was there I actually rather embarrasingly corrected one of there salepeople as they were trying to rip someone off big time with a system they definitely didn't need!
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    Reconsider from the top.

    HyperThreading (Intel only) is a great performance boost.

    MultiCores will out perform MutiCPU see SMP vs MPP

    There's a limit (more cores will not scale linearly) so the benefits drop off as you add more.
  8. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96


    5470 is okayish for an entry level mobile graphics solution; I've been looking around for a good deal for a new notebook as well, and I think if you to do graphic intensive work you are better off with slightly more powerful GPU, so essentially I'm looking for right combination other specs + 5650 or above say in about 850-900$ range.

    Now to cores, you guys have already clarified it, generally single threaded applications will benefit greatly from higher clock speeds. But there are general productivity software which can take advantage of more cores e.g. Excel; so if the OP use such programs he may be better off with more cores.
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,128   +982

    FEW applications are developed today without using Threading; the more complicated the APP gets, the higher the probability of it being threaded
  10. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    taking the cue from the op

    if you are using this machine for web browsing and the games you listed...the 2x @ 2.8 will serve you better...
    if you use software for modeling/rendering/audio/video etc, the triple core will probably serve you better.
    If these two were anywhere near the same frequency, it would be a slam dunk in the x3 favor. The problem is that they are a full Ghz apart, and being a laptop, you are probably not going to OC the thing. the games will respond to the greatly faster 2.8Ghz
    So base it on what you will be doing with/what software you will be running. for what you listed on your original post, the x2 2.8Ghz will serve you better.
  11. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    For me, the final decision would rest upon the price difference.

    You could spend an extra 150 euros for a machine that might save you 30 minutes total of your life if you intend to use software such as AutoCAD or CS4. As Archaen mentioned, it is true that MS Office 2007 and up do better with more cores, but the difference would likely be negligible unless you are going to constantly be working with lengthy spread sheets, etc. Loading the occasional 10 page paper in MS Word 2 seconds faster wouldn't be worth 150 euros, in my opinion. ;)

    Archaen, let us know what you end up going with for your new laptop! Earlier today I noticed that there are even 480M's in SLi, now. lol
  12. ruzveh

    ruzveh Banned Posts: 123

    Take my advise and go for more cores until or unless you are going to use only one application at a time
  13. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,448   +145

    I disagree.
    It hardly matters, whatever's cheaper IMO.
  14. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96


    Sure, I will do that :)

    I am not a big fan of gaming on notebooks, but its good to have mid-range graphics along with a reasonably powerful CPU. So that is why i said 5650 (or equivalent nVidia offering).

    I liked the specs of HP DV6-3143, having i5-460M, 1GB 5650, 500GB HDD etc. (despite the fact I don't want to buy HP) ...... but 1) I couldn't find any matching model from Dell or Acer (or others), 2) the supplier here ran out of this model for now.

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