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Is dual core worth it?

Last response: in CPUs

Which CPU?

Total: 13 votes

  • X2 3800
  • 54 %
  • X2 4200
  • 24 %
  • AMD Athlon 3800 (venic core)
  • 24 %
December 18, 2005 4:31:58 PM

I am in a dilemma at the moment. I am choosing a new CPU and hav narrowed it down to 3 CPU's: the X2 4200, the X2 3800 and the single core 3800 (venice core).

I am not an all out gamer but do like to do so fairly often. I spend a lot of time multitasking with several programs open at once. Would that make an dual core CPU benficial and if so is the X2 4200 worth the extra cash?

I have checked out the CPU chart and the single core 3800 seems way on top at the moment. I know a lot of people say that this will change when multithreaded programs start arriving, but how long will this be and even then will the athlon 3800 still be on top?

What should I do???

More about : dual core worth

December 18, 2005 4:41:30 PM

Having several programs open (several browser windows, a few word windows, a spreadsheet or 2, Access working on a project mock up, designing the next killer app, etc.), doensn't really make a dual core necessary. Now if you're working with Photoshop applying complex filters & rendering a video in the background while you run a busy FTP server and have bittorrent running... THEN you need a dual core. (well, in that extreem case Can I suggest a quad-CPU system? I think it would be quite useful... :lol:  :lol:  )

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December 18, 2005 4:51:59 PM

At this very moment, will the X2 3800 or the Athlon 3800 be better for everyday tasks (e.g. internet, email etc.)?

If the answer to the above is the single core 3800, how long will it be before this change (i.e. when lots of multithreaded programs arrive)?
December 18, 2005 5:54:59 PM

For everyday tasks like internet browsing, email or word a PIII or an Athlon XP will be more than fast enough.

Multithreaded applications are already common for media encoding. Those types of programs were already multithreaded to take advantage of hypertreading so it didn't take much to make them dual core optimized. Internet browsers and Office won't really benefit from being multithreaded anyways since they don't stress a single core processor.

The other benefit of dual cores is for multitasking. This will allow you to play a game on one core while running a virus scan on the other or encoding video on one core while watching a DVD on the other. The benefits of multitasking can be realized immediately without multithreaded applications. However, real multitasking isn't having multiple Office programs open at once. It is having multiple programs that constantly require processor time running at once.

Most games can only benefit from one core right now although the latest games seem to be more dual core aware. I believe Quake 4, Serious Sam 2, and Call of Duty 2 all have dual cores performing faster than their single-core counterparts. As well, the latest graphics card drivers from before ATI and nVidia are now dual-core optimized with the latest ATI drivers also being HTT optimized.

Personnally, if you can afford it just go with the X2 3800+. You could easily overclock it by 200MHz to match the X2 4200+'s speed. Besides, your choice of graphics card is far more important in determining your gaming experience.
December 18, 2005 6:24:21 PM

Thanks for your reply, I am starting to sway towards the X2 3800. However, didnt fishmahn day that the dual core processors would not benefit multitasking?
December 18, 2005 6:24:36 PM

I agree with Itcommander

I would get the X2 3800, just for future concerns. In a not to far future most if not all games to apps..etc will be mulitthreaded at some point. Plus the way Intel and AMD are talking..(planing!) Multi-core (4 cores on a single die in a 65nm is already being engineered at Intel I would guess AMD is doing the same. Software companies will go to the multi-threaded programs to improve performance of their products. Its just now in the beging but a year or 2 down the road it will be the norm!
December 18, 2005 6:25:47 PM

Would I spend the extra $50 on the X2 to get worse performance, so I could pray for a miracle? I think not.
Would I spend $50 less on the SanDiego 3700 and OC it ? Probably more likely. The reason Amd brought out dual cores for opteron first, is because work stations and servers can use them. The reason they brought them to desktop now, is only because Intel did.
If you have never needed a dual chip setup, why would you think a dual core would be any different?
December 18, 2005 6:29:47 PM

It depends on what you plan to do with your computer. Having a few Office programs and browser windows open is not multitasking in a sense that would benefit dual cores. However, if you are encoding a movie while listening to music and working in Office, then in this true multitasking situation you will see a benefit with dual core processors.
December 18, 2005 6:34:25 PM

After endyen's comment I am indecisive again. It is definitely between the X2 3800 and the single core 3800 but I am completely stuck on which to pick. The reason I was favouring the single core version before was that it was far better on the CPU charts. How much better will the X2 3800 be in 1 years time (if any) and 2 years time?
December 18, 2005 6:34:28 PM

I second the opty
December 18, 2005 6:35:35 PM

Talk to a coder! It's just not worth the extra time to make progs multithreaded. Too much work, too little gain.
Debugging is the real nightmare.
December 18, 2005 6:40:11 PM

If you are indecisive then you should just follow endyen's advice and get the A64 3700+. It's 200MHz slower than the A64 3800+ but has double the L2 cache. You can easily overclock to make up the difference if its important to you.

From what I can gather, you don't seem to be doing much media creation tasks so you won't likely see any benefit from going dual core for the forseeable future. As well, even if in a few years time programs are more dual core optimized, the sheer clock speed advantage of the A64 3700+ should keep it competitive.
December 18, 2005 6:47:27 PM

I am now swaying back to a single core CPU. If I were to pick one of these would it be worth getting a AMD 4000 instead of the Overclocked 3700 or 3800?
December 18, 2005 6:56:25 PM

no, paying more is pointless, the 4000 and the 3700 will both likely top out at the same speed. even if youre not overclocking, 200mhz is just not worth paying for.
December 18, 2005 7:05:31 PM

So does that mean that an overclocked 3700 will definitely be faster than an overclocked 3800?
December 18, 2005 7:12:46 PM

would the purchase of a dual-core processor justify the following usage of having all these programs running at once:

msn messenger
yahoo messenger
up to 3 chat sites running (using firefox)
a couple of other firefox windows open (for browsing)
having an average game running in the background (for playing when not chatting)
anti-spyware program running

Is this typical usage justification for getting a dual core, or a single core athlon 4000, or just more ram?
December 18, 2005 7:13:17 PM

lets say both chips go to 2.7ghz, the 3700 has 1mb cache, the 3800 has 512kb cache, so yes the 3700 will probably be faster since most a64s hit the 2.7ghz barrier, opterons and fxs are a different story, but the lower priced s939 opterons have dissapeared.
December 18, 2005 7:18:08 PM

In the case which david_uk suggests what is going to be better: an overclocked 3700 or an overclocked X2 3800? Even though their is a big price difference would this make the dual core worth it?
December 18, 2005 7:19:32 PM

That type of usage is fine with a single core. The point of a dual core is to allow to processor heavy tasks constant access to the processor. IM programs and browsers don't use much processor power at all and a game running in the background doesn't use processing power if its paused, it just takes up RAM. For your usuage even a Celeron or Sempron would be fine.

Just get a single core with more RAM, at least 1GB is fine.
December 18, 2005 7:24:26 PM

interesting, I've been a hard-core athlon dual-core supporter all this time, but now i'm beginning to see wisdom in just purchasing system with a single core.

however since they are both socket 939 i suppose it would be possible to switch without too many problems.

also bearing in mind i'm looking for a replacement system for my old p3-800 system with just 256mb of ram, i suppose any of the systems under discussion would seem as fast as lightning and infinitely more capable by comparison.
December 18, 2005 7:30:33 PM

dual cores are just hype with little practical use so far, maybe theyll get better later on. i can still multi-task with my athlon xp fine, ram helps more than processing power in 90% of multi-tasking scenarios.
December 18, 2005 9:16:05 PM

I would go for the 3800 dual core. There are lots of times I wish I had a second core. Although.....the more I think about that Opteron.....the more I like that idea.
December 18, 2005 9:23:42 PM

what tasks do you perform that makes you wish you had a dual core.

quote from THG mother of all processor charts article:

"Again, some critics argue that there are practically no serious and sensible applications for dual-core CPUs. And again, we find it hard to argue with that statement. Sadly, that won't change much either for the foreseeable future, leaving the user in the lurch until the software base becomes thread-optimized."
December 18, 2005 9:37:55 PM

With the way Amd uses cache, the extra 512 is more of a heatsink than anything else. A 3800 may top out @ ~ 2.7, while the San Diego is more likely to make it to 2.8ghz.
December 18, 2005 10:24:04 PM

Having been a recent AMD convert I gotta admit that intel had me spoiled with their Hyper threading that 'simulated' multi core operations. I had to switch to AMD because Intel just couldn't keep up gaming wise. I went out and bought a 4000+. While it's great for gaming, I find myself waiting more to run things on my computer. I tend to have an instant messnger open with the webcam going while downloading and a bousing ripped DVD clips but I find that I have to wait alot more for a clip to open. Now I have a 3800+(X2) @ 2.4ghz and things are MUCH more smooth. Games still run great, but multiple apps run better now as well.
December 18, 2005 10:30:47 PM

An easy way to deal with the lag, is to learn how to right click progs in task manager. If you set priorities, the single core will work better.
December 18, 2005 10:59:24 PM

would the purchase of a dual-core processor justify the following usage of having all these programs running at once:

msn messenger
yahoo messenger
up to 3 chat sites running (using firefox)
a couple of other firefox windows open (for browsing)
having an average game running in the background (for playing when not chatting)
anti-spyware program running

Is this typical usage justification for getting a dual core, or a single core athlon 4000, or just more ram?

yes i forgot to add the webcam to this list of processes running lol