Do I Really Need A Quad Core Processor for my Desktop PC?
Published on August 4th, 2011
Do I really need to upgrade to a quad core processor? A not-so dilemma to be answered
Before I begin, this article aims to help people who are not really PC enthusiast and are your typical consumers trying to find answers to whether they should upgrade or buy a quad core processor or not. This “desktop quad core processor guide” aims to answer some of the questions that you might be asking yourself right now. Further this article is not about Intel vs AMD quad core processor. But I will tell you later which one may be appropriate for you.
Before you decide to upgrade or buy a quad core processor, you need to consider three (3) things. These are budget, purpose and compatibility. These are also the same things that you need to consider when you need to upgrade or buy a new desktop PC or laptop. But for now let’s just focus on the processor aspect. Let me explain to you one by one.
1. Budget – Quad core processors usually don’t come cheap. They are usually two to three times more expensive than dual core processors. But if you are looking for a cheaper quad core processor, you might want to look at AMD’s quad core processor lineup. Their quadies are usually cheaper than Intel’s quad core processor.
However, based on experience and a little bit of research; although an Intel quad core processor is usually more expensive than AMD’s quad processors, Intel quadies have better performance. I mean their quad core processors are like monsters specially the high end ones and they are usually more power efficient than the other brand.
If you have the money to buy a quad core processor, why not? By all means upgrade to a quad core processor and experience a smooth and fast desktop operation and computing. ^_^ But if you have a tight budget then you might what to check out the second thing that you need to consider.
2. Purpose – These aspect should answer your question by now. You could have many reasons why you should buy a quad core processor, but have you tried asking yourself what is really the purpose of you buying a quad core processor? Let me categorize the possible purpose or your possible desktop activity.
Regular desktop operation – these includes document processing (MS Word etc), spreadsheets (Excel), office or work related software and the likes that usually does not consume a lot of processing power. If this is the main function of your PC then a quad core processor might not be the optimum solution. A dual core processor will do and can easily perform these kind of tasks.
Multitasking – It really depends on how you define your multitasking. If your opening a web browser and a MS Office application, calculator, notepad while playing some mp3 in your background then a dual core processor can easily do these task.
But if your definition of multitasking is opening multiple adobe applications for video and photo editing, converting videos, using dual or multiple monitor display and having different task in each monitor and the same time, then you really need a quad core processor. The top of the line dual core processor with overclock settings may be able to handle this but a dual core processor does not have enough threads to processes these numerous calculations. A quad core processor can perform all of these task at the same time because they have 4 threads or 8 threads depending on the model of the processor. And their really built for multitasking.
Playing PC Games – Back in 2007 up to 2010 (if I’m not mistaken about the 2010) a dual core processor is sufficient enough to play PC games even top of the line PC games, provided that you also have a good graphics card or video card. Playing PC games with on board graphics is not enough (Although some games are just fine with on-board graphics). You definitely need a graphics card.
Late last year and this year, more PC games are coming out that requires more processing power. Games like Crysis 2, Modern Warfare 3, Final Fantasy XIV recommends that you use a quad core processor plus a better graphics card. Games nowadays are also utilizing multi-threaded functionality. That’s why a PC game that has a demanding system requirement can be played smoothly even in higher settings and resolution with a quad core processor paired with midstream to high end graphics card and at least 2GB of memory.
Video and photo editing – If you are into video editing and photo editing and even rendering 3D objects, images and videos, then it’s really recommended that you use a quad core processor.
Playing Movies HD and Non HD – A top of the line dual core processor can play a 1080p HD movie. If your system is an HTPC or home theater PC then a midstream to high end dual core processor may suffice.
Playing Music – Even a single core processor can play mp3 music. ^_^
Internet Surfing – A dual core processor is sufficient for this kind of task.
Bragging rights – Don’t have to argue with this one. Only your budget and compatibility issues is your determining factor.
If your PC usage is minimal then you might be wasting your money on investing in a quad core processor. You won’t even maximize it’s full capacity.
Now if you think that you really need a quad core processor because you have this kind of purpose or you need your PC for a specific demanding task then there’s no stopping you. Only your budget and compatibility will. ^_^
3. Compatibility – If you have the budget and you know you need a quad core processor because you have a purpose for it, then compatibility might be the only thing that would hinder you from having one.
If you are upgrading from an older motherboard with an obsolete socket type, or there are no quad core processors that are compatible with your current system, then you might need to upgrade your whole computer. (ouch!)
As far as I know, it’s already end of the line for Intel’s socket 775 motherboard, same goes with AMD socket AM2+. But if you are currently using an Intel socket 1156 (for core-i processor) or socket 1155 (for second generation core-i processor) then you would not have a problem. Just look for a quad core or even six core processor that fits your budget and need. Same goes with AMD’s socket AM3 and the upcoming socket AM3+ and socket FM1.
The only question left is which quad core processors should you get? I mean there are several quad core processors that Intel and AMD is offering. I’ll name a few of these processors.
Here’s a list of current quad core processors in the market that AMD and Intel has to offer.
AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2 ghz
AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 ghz
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE (Black Edition) 3.2 ghz
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE (Black Edition) 3.4 ghz
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8 ghz (six core)
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3.0 ghz (six core)
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T BE (Black Edition) 3.2 ghz (six core)
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T BE (Black Edition) 3.3 ghz (six core)
Intel Core i5 2300 (SR00D) 2.8GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i5 2310 (SR02K) 2.9ghz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i5 2400 (SR00Q) 3.1GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i5 2500 (SR00T) 3.3GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i5 2500K Unlocked 3.3GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i5 760 2.8GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i7 2600 (SR00B) 3.4GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i7 2600K Unlocked 3.4GHz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i7 870 2.93Ghz (Quad Core)
Intel Core i7 950(SLBEN) 3.06GHz (Quad Core)
I know that the list above is not complete but more or less these are the ones that are currently available in the market.
Hope this article help you. Please do share this article and please do comment. Happy upgrading! ^_^