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CPU Questions

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I'm trying to learn about CPU's and which ones give better proven performance. I went to this site and it seems to be a good real-world comparison matrix, even though not as many units are tested as I'd like. The charts there bring up some questions.


Example - comparing performance of an Intel Quad Core Q6600 at 2.4Ghz with an Intel Dual Core E8500 at 3.16Ghz and keeping the mobo out of the equation:


1. Does the above depend if the benchmarking is done with gamer application testing vs. testing with multimedia and other less stringent applications? In other words, would a non-gamer find any significant improvement using the quad core over the dual core?


2. Is the conventional wisdom that a quad core is always preferable over a dual core, no matter what the application? Are there any rules of thumb for this?


3. Do factors like bus speed and L2 cache override the processor speed and number of cores?


4. Is there a better benchmark site than the above that ranks CPU's based on tests with different applications? I'm not a gamer myself, so when I get a new PC in the near future I want to spend the money where it will do me the most good.



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I will try to sum this up in general for you. Most people are buying quad cores today because they are future-proofing themselves for new applications. Down the road, as applications become multi-threaded, they will be able to take advantage of the multiple cores. And, for general multitasking, you'll be able to do more with more cores, even if the applications are single threaded.


So, to respond to your questions in order.


1) A non-gamer would find improvement in using the quad core if they did things like media encoding, photo editing, and movie production. Photoshop and other similar products are encoded to take advantage of multiple cores.


2) It is not always preferable, but that idea is slowly going away. Faster clocked dual cores will beat out slower clocked quad cores in single threaded applications, but the idea of future proofing yourself is taking hold of everyone.


3) Bus speed and L2 cache are hard to compare in different processors when they have a different amount of cores. However, when comparing quad cores, it does. The older Q6600 is slower compared to the new Q9300, and they have comparable specs.


Q6600 (Conroe based)


  • 2.4 GHz
  • 1,066MHz FSB
  • 65nm process
  • 8MB of L2 Cache


Q9300 (Penryn based)


  • 2.5 GHz
  • 1,333 MHz FSB
  • 45nm Process
  • 6MB of L2 Cache


MaximumPC reviewed the two against each other, and they liked the newer Q9300 more.They compared them in 5 different categories; price, specs, compatibility, overclocking and performance. The Q6600 won price and compatibility, the Q9300 took the other three. In the specs, the slightly lesser amount of L2 cache doesn't really hurt the faster clocked Q9300.


4) Tom's Hardware CPU Comparison. Click here to choose benchmarks and CPU's to compare.


If you wanted to build a machine for about a $1000, the Q6600 is going for $200 on TigerDirect.com, which is a steal, considering how overclockable the chip is. If you wanted to build a system with a Q9300, you could eventually throw in a higher clocked 45nm part, like a QX9770. Or, wait till the new Nehalem based parts from Intel come later this year/early next year.


So my advice? Buy a quad core, 2 GB of RAM, a good motherboard, harddrive, graphics card, and case and you won't be disappointed. Hope this helps.




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Another good way of putting it:

Would you prefer 4 cores running at 2.4ghz (of which most games and apps use 1 to 2 )

or 2 cores running at 3.16 being used


So gamers usually prefer a dual over-clocked to a quad.


Future proofing is iffy as there is not much out (that I've heard of) that use 4 cores.

Unless you do frequent graphics work in quality applications.


Overall it depends on what you want to do.


Gamer = Dual - I notice most (On another tech forum I visit) still prefer over-clocked duals.

Applications/graphics/every one else = Quad


my two cents, mostly agreeing with CTskiFreak.

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