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dual core VS quad core in Real Life

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April 11, 2008 12:10:46 PM

hello

we often read that dual core CPU of higher clock speed may be better than quad core CPU of lower clock speed
and this because very few or no "tasks" can take advantage of 2 or more cores

that is logical at first sight

but in real life situations, we almost never do single tasking in our pc
we run internet browser, antivirus, winrar, MS Office, etc and numerous OS tasks

so my question is, in such situations, won't a quad core have advantage over a dual core?
or dual core's faster clock will still give advantage to it?

many software now may not support more than one core, but because:
1) we run many software simultaneously
2) we run many OS tasks and OSes nowadays support multiple cores
I suppose quad core will always have advantage

however, I cannot estimate the actual advantage in REAL LIFE situations, since I see everywhere benchmarks for a single task

I would like to see your justified thoughts on this

thanks
April 11, 2008 12:15:05 PM

It depends on how much your multitask. I run torrents constantly, even while running heavy applications like games. So, quad is a necessity for me. Also, quad optimized applications are already being produced. The "future proofing" is more of a matter of months instead of years.
April 11, 2008 12:50:10 PM

Anything I typically do is the sole thing I have opened on my machine at the time.

I actually find that my e-8400 clocked at 4000mhz is better than my q6600 at 3700mhz. This is especially so with games since the higher clockspeed of the e8400 with the better cache and more work per clock enables far better shader performance to my dual 3870x2 setup.

I know a lot of people like to cite 3dmark as something that is non legitimate, but I will use it as an example.

When I use my e8400 with it, I get a lower cpu score of course since thhe cpu test is heavily multithreaded and relies on a quad for the highest score, or ability to render.

With the quad I can get another 2 frames per second out of the same test.

But going back to the e8400 in the video tests, my shader model 3.0 score exceeds 12000, as opposed to my quad that can barely break 11000 in the same test.

I get an everage of 10 fps higher in tests 1,2,5, and 6.

Of course this could be argued with and everyone's machines are different, but In a game situation I can get the same results with higher fps using the e8400.

I am sure if a developer were to create a nicely multithreaded game, the quad would begin to pull away fromt the e8400, but nowadays and in my opinion, if you are a gamer, there is no real reason to go to a quad over a dual core.

if you do video editing, decoding and the like, you will see a benefit with the quad core. I am not ready to conclue that a quad core is really justified for the most part. Of course there is nothing wrong with it, and comparing my 65nm quad to my 45nm dual might not be a fair comparison. that is also open for debate.

Either way though, if you have a late model quad or dual core, you are not going to have any problems with anything. I find both chips to be great.

if you like to have 30 things opened at once, the quad with windows 64 and lots of ram is great.

If you game, then an e8400 on win32 with 2gig is fine.

just my take.
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April 11, 2008 1:20:22 PM

I'm a heavy multi-tasker and currently run a Pentium D (dual-core) at typically 75% most of the time. I'm working on a quad-core build now with 4gb ram and Vista 64 so I'm hoping this will ease my system stress a bit and even allow me to do more.
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April 11, 2008 1:33:08 PM

zeuseason said:
I'm a heavy multi-tasker and currently run a Pentium D (dual-core) at typically 75% most of the time. I'm working on a quad-core build now with 4gb ram and Vista 64 so I'm hoping this will ease my system stress a bit and even allow me to do more.


It will. I have a Q6600 w 4GB and Vista 32(need to buy the 64bit version) and no matter what I do my CPU barely goes over 30% total usage. And thats with a game such a Crysis or TF2. When just doing stuff outside of a game it is rarely huitting 20% and stays aroung 8-10%.

Either way its dependant on what you want to do, what you feel is best and how long you plan to keep the computer before upgrading/building a new one. If you want it to last more than 3 years a quad will be more beneficial. If you build new every 2 years or so a dual may be the best.
April 11, 2008 2:41:42 PM

colore said:
but in real life situations, we almost never do single tasking in our pc
we run internet browser, antivirus, winrar, MS Office, etc and numerous OS tasks


When I'm doing those kind of things on my Athlon X2, the CPU is running around 5% usage while throttled back from 2.6GHz to 1GHz.

I agree with the sentiment, but you just don't need much CPU power for word processing, web browsing and the like. Given how fast operating systems switch between tasks these days, even a single core would probably be fine.
April 11, 2008 3:03:48 PM

righteous said:
Anything I typically do is the sole thing I have opened on my machine at the time.

I actually find that my e-8400 clocked at 4000mhz is better than my q6600 at 3700mhz. This is especially so with games since the higher clockspeed of the e8400 with the better cache and more work per clock enables far better shader performance to my dual 3870x2 setup.

I know a lot of people like to cite 3dmark as something that is non legitimate, but I will use it as an example.

When I use my e8400 with it, I get a lower cpu score of course since thhe cpu test is heavily multithreaded and relies on a quad for the highest score, or ability to render.

With the quad I can get another 2 frames per second out of the same test.

But going back to the e8400 in the video tests, my shader model 3.0 score exceeds 12000, as opposed to my quad that can barely break 11000 in the same test.

I get an everage of 10 fps higher in tests 1,2,5, and 6.

Of course this could be argued with and everyone's machines are different, but In a game situation I can get the same results with higher fps using the e8400.

I am sure if a developer were to create a nicely multithreaded game, the quad would begin to pull away fromt the e8400, but nowadays and in my opinion, if you are a gamer, there is no real reason to go to a quad over a dual core.

if you do video editing, decoding and the like, you will see a benefit with the quad core. I am not ready to conclue that a quad core is really justified for the most part. Of course there is nothing wrong with it, and comparing my 65nm quad to my 45nm dual might not be a fair comparison. that is also open for debate.

Either way though, if you have a late model quad or dual core, you are not going to have any problems with anything. I find both chips to be great.

if you like to have 30 things opened at once, the quad with windows 64 and lots of ram is great.

If you game, then an e8400 on win32 with 2gig is fine.

just my take.



This is the way a benchmark should be used, as a referance, not a true hardcore its always this way result, im happy to see someone who understands this. I am also one of those people that never sees there quad go past 30% usage at most times. I really appreciate what a quad brings to the table, a ability to keep my multitasking smooth, while at the same time bringing me a good quality gaming experience. The other thing i noticed is that if i have a app going that chooses to freeze up for whatever reason, i can still get ctrl+alt+delete to pop up rather quickly for me, something i wasnt able to do with my old p4 system, which would just remain unresponsive. Ive read many times, and have disagreed with, people saying the quad doesnt bring to the table a good gaming experience. This is very untrue, gaming on a quad works out just fine, and i regularly end up in the top 8 on which ever team im on. Is there a huge benefit out there for quads right now? Not especially, but as soon as we start seeing multithreading games coming out though, the quad will begin to shine. Until then, its a nifty piece of hardware that is priced quite competitively with its duel core bretheren.
April 11, 2008 3:34:02 PM

encoding video with x264 on a multicore machine... results:
Performance scales near linearly with cores.

This is my sole reason for upgrading to a quadcore
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April 11, 2008 3:36:05 PM

I have run SupCom and COD4 at the same time on my quad, with one minimized, switching back and forth. SupCom doesn't really like being Alt+Tabbed, but I wasn't able to tell if I was taking a hit or not on performance. I assume that since an app is minimized, Windows is only letting it sit idle so it might be possible on any machine with enough RAM to keep up.

In any respect, I have had my virus scan kick off in the middle of a game and finish and I wouldn't even know until I closed out of the game and saw the on-screen message it had completed.
April 11, 2008 5:21:45 PM

skittle said:
encoding video with x264 on a multicore machine... results:
Performance scales near linearly with cores.

This is my sole reason for upgrading to a quadcore


that is my only reason to go from dual core to quadcore too
April 11, 2008 5:30:32 PM

Honestly as long as you do not encode HD vido for hours on end multiple times a week, just save your money and buy a Nahelm later. I have owned Quadcore and Dualcore alike, the E6750 is the best deal on the market since it almost runs neck and neck with the E8500 clock for clock, and overclocks much better as well. Regardless in "real life" there is almost no difference, I have minimized games, listened to music, browsed the web, downloaded media, and ran my Virus/spyware/firewall on all active High settings without a single slowdown. I am using an E6750 @ 3.6GHz, I had bought a Q9650 and had planned to give my E6750 away, but found the difference was patheticly small. Honestly If you plan on paying more than $200 then get the Q6600, but if you are smart you will buy an E6750 and get almost the exact same performance and, with a little overclocking, better performance for less than $200.

I know some people will hate this post, but this is the honest truth and no matter what you say, unless you have directly and personally used an E6750 and a Q6600 or above, then you wont understand the difference, and those who do know will be honest with themselves and largely agree.
April 11, 2008 5:35:48 PM

Some of the examples you cite are not very processor intensive. For example, having 6 IE windows, antivirus, and WINRAR. Out of all those tasks the only one that may use some processing power is WINRAR if you're currently compressing or uncompressing something.

But if you're a MEGATASKER that needs platformance like my old friend BaronMatrix, quad-core would allow you to run multiple instances of WoW while encoding large amounts of "videos".
April 11, 2008 6:02:36 PM

heh, define large amount.
Depending on the filters I use, just encoding a single standard dvd to x264 and 6channel vorbis takes anywhere from 3-5 hours on a x2 3800+. 1080p sources can take over 24 hours!

a simple 3.0ghz Q6600 can do what mine can in about 1/3 of the time :|
I want one :( 
April 11, 2008 7:07:40 PM

Someone poseted in another thread about the difference between multi-tasking and multi-processing. I don't think people understand the difference. Having seven different programs open that you alt-tab between is much more likely to tax your memory than your processor.

Also, once games are optimised for quad cores (and actually need the power) you will probably be upgrading your current quad because nehalem will have been out for a year and an half, and maybe something even better that smokes the current generation.

Now if you do a lot of rendering using lots of filters, then a quad is great.
April 11, 2008 8:18:47 PM

San Pedro is absolutely right, just wait for Nahalem. Also I understand the difference and was commenting on the OP's question directly, when your running multiple windows a Dual or a Quad will do about the same.
April 11, 2008 10:41:58 PM

The_Blood_Raven said:
San Pedro is absolutely right, just wait for Nahalem. Also I understand the difference and was commenting on the OP's question directly, when your running multiple windows a Dual or a Quad will do about the same.



The problem is, what if you have to buy now and can't wait? I used an old Northwood P4 oced to 3.8ghz for 5 years, until it died... :na: 

So yeah, basically, when you have to choose between dual and quad (and not, say, quad and Nahalem), go for quad. Years back, when dual chips first came out, some of the exact same arguments were presented against it from teh 1337 ocer ppl were more comfortable with their trusty single cores than new dual cores. Now, early dual cores are slow, but still fast enough to be useful for gaming, and comparable single cores from the same period are completely worthless. Nahalem is an unknown quantity, it might be good, or it might not. It is also set to arrive at the end of the year, if Intel don't delay it like they did with Yorkfield cpus. Not to mention they'll charge sky price for new hardware, so unless you're rich, it'll be a while longer until you can pocket one. It's better to concern yourself with what's here now. And now, quad is the smart bet.
April 12, 2008 8:26:32 AM

to sum up, the truth must be that dual core outperform quad cores so far even at multitasking and only at video editing do worse than quad cores

and the reason for this is that most programs don't take advantage of quad cores

but again, let's say I run web browser with 50 webpages opened, winrar extracting, dvd burning, torrents or http downloader

this is 4 tasks, what if the first two tasks go with 2 cores of a quad core and the rest two tasks go with the other 2 cores of the quad core

isn't this possible? the OS isn't suppose to do this? to give tasks to each core?

I suppose logicaly quad cores would always have the advantage, even if the programs don't support quad core

I really can't imagine how most say dual is better than quad for now
the only way to think of it, is that current quad cores are not TRUE quad cores, and they are just one core processors, somewhat devided into 4 small sub-processors and this deviding doesn't not increase performance at all and it is just a marketing trick to sell more
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April 12, 2008 9:04:26 AM

A quad core is basically 2 dual core cpus on one die. It isnt a true quad core and thats where AMD is trying to establish the difference with their cpus is that they are actually 4 cores on one die.

I think the current bottleneck in the Intel quad cores is the memory controller.

Im certain this will be overcome in future multi core cpus...
April 12, 2008 11:21:15 AM

Its nice to see this dual vs quad discussion is still alive and well here. I continue to learn. I have an E6850 that I'm itching to replace with a Q6600 or Q9450. I'm trying to justify it with virtualization, megatasking, etc. However, most of the time my e6850 @ 3.51Ghz just plain...rocks. Only under heavy VMWare virtualization with mutiple machines running does it ever slow a little. ...but truth be told, I want a quad, like many others....just because. Which means I want a quad that performs as well or better than my e6850, in ALL tasks.

Can't justify it, will no longer try. I want a quad.
April 12, 2008 11:54:46 AM

I think a quad might be a good "future strategy". We have 4 cores, 8 cores on a D5400XS board (socket 771) etc etc. Soon we should have 6 cores on a single socket, perhaps 8. How could software vendors NOT approach multicore optimisation?
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April 12, 2008 12:09:10 PM

halcyon said:
Can't justify it, will no longer try. I want a quad.

Then go for the Q9450 over the Q6600, I am running a Q6600 rig and an E6850 and responsiveness wise they are about the same video encoding the quad wins and for gaming it's the 6850. XP 32bit just throws stuff at the quad which does not then assign an unused core to the task, there have been times when I have had various things running and only two cores being used.
April 12, 2008 3:12:22 PM

Mousemonkey said:
Then go for the Q9450 over the Q6600, I am running a Q6600 rig and an E6850 and responsiveness wise they are about the same video encoding the quad wins and for gaming it's the 6850. XP 32bit just throws stuff at the quad which does not then assign an unused core to the task, there have been times when I have had various things running and only two cores being used.



You should really upgrade from that 32bit XP. It's the bottleneck. :p 
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April 12, 2008 8:46:54 PM

dagger said:
You should really upgrade from that 32bit XP. It's the bottleneck. :p 

You're gonna have to prise it out of my cold dead hands. :lol: 
April 12, 2008 10:05:30 PM

dagger said:
It depends on how much your multitask. I run torrents constantly, even while running heavy applications like games. So, quad is a necessity for me. Also, quad optimized applications are already being produced. The "future proofing" is more of a matter of months instead of years.



That doesn't make sense. Torrents is NOT a heavy task and can run on a single core while gaming if you really wanted to fairly easily. The fact is right now most new dual cores (E8000 series especially) are more then capable for most peoples needs. Real world difference - depends on what you want to do. Quad core leaps in when doing more then one heavy task. Say encoding while playing a game. Running VM is useful because you can assign two cores to your virtual machines while encoding / (even play a game) in the background.
April 12, 2008 10:40:14 PM

For most gamers and home office users SPEED wins every time.

The only game I know of that is being made to NOT even boot with one core is ArmA2.
Looks like it will be time to upgrade my game LAN when this game comes out!
April 12, 2008 11:54:31 PM

acidpython said:
That doesn't make sense. Torrents is NOT a heavy task and can run on a single core while gaming if you really wanted to fairly easily. The fact is right now most new dual cores (E8000 series especially) are more then capable for most peoples needs. Real world difference - depends on what you want to do. Quad core leaps in when doing more then one heavy task. Say encoding while playing a game. Running VM is useful because you can assign two cores to your virtual machines while encoding / (even play a game) in the background.



It depends on the number of swarm size and half open connections. I don't like to cap my connections limit while seeding. Maintaining more than 50k of peer connections can be taxing on both cpu and memory, and lag down games.

Again, this is identical to the dual vs single core a few years back. For short term, dual is good, as was single core back then. For 2+ years, you need quad.
April 13, 2008 3:32:35 AM

How applications function with multi-cores will change over the coming years. Intel and Microsoft have invested $20 million into improving multi-core usage with applications. So, although dual cores may have an edge today quads will have their day very soon. To be honest I own the Q6600 and even at stock speeds find it to be very impressive at multi-tasking. Can run a multitude of apps at once and never know the others are running. Apps and games will improve in their utilization of multi-cores because that is the future of processors. This is the only real direction processors are heading. We've been stuck around the same clock speeds for years. There have been improvements in architecture, but the clock speeds are pretty stagnant.
April 13, 2008 4:16:39 AM

I find this all very interesting since soon Intel plans to run raytracing for games. If theyre havong such a tough time with video encoding, whats gaming going to be like? Rasterization seems like its going to be tough to replace, though, time will tell. Speed is the thing still, not multi. But again, time will tell.
April 13, 2008 10:14:53 AM

Would it not be better to buy a cheaper DDR2 board with a E8500 and an easy OC to 3800Mhz (=400x9.5) on aircooling today?
And then replace it next year to a nahalem and DDR3 for what a new board is necesary anyway since I read it would use a new socket.
Or would I loose out on a lot not having a quadcore for gaming this coming year?
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April 13, 2008 11:18:11 AM

tjoepie said:
Would it not be better to buy a cheaper DDR2 board with a E8500 and an easy OC to 3800Mhz (=400x9.5) on aircooling today?
And then replace it next year to a nahalem and DDR3 for what a new board is necesary anyway since I read it would use a new socket.
Or would I loose out on a lot not having a quadcore for gaming this coming year?

Or hedge your bets and get a Q9300, more current and shiny than a Q6600 but cheaper and lower clockspeed than the 8500 by a whole 516mhz. [:mousemonkey:2]
April 13, 2008 12:23:07 PM

Before I switched from my e6600 to my q9450 I did some some benchmarking to compare

Convert 30 Days of night dvd main movie

Dvd fab platinum
E6600 = 1:52:10 Q9450 = 1:28:09

Nero Recode (avc)
E6600 = 1:22:31 Q9450 = 45:56

Tmpg Express 4 (mpeg 4)
E6600 = 2:07:45 Q9450 = 1:04:18

multi tasking feels smoother and when dragging multiple files to another internal hard drive it doesn take as long
April 13, 2008 2:23:36 PM

nice, but Q9450 is too expensive for such small improvement
April 13, 2008 2:25:07 PM

I've notice that even though single thread apps, my Q6600 does use all 4 cores.

For example... good old Super PI. When I ran that on my E4400, one core would be used, on the Quad, it actually different, I see the load change on to different cores. So my XP is actually making the most use out of it.

Games on the other hand, will end up using a single core. Theres one twist I've noticed though, when you run a game that is single core, its going to be either on Core 1 or Core 2. What I mean by that, its using the center cores:

Core 0 - Core 1 - Core 2 - Core 3



I thought that was kinda neat (thermal wise). I was actually expecting Core 0 to be used when I started up single core games.

But it seems as though in XP whether its single threaded, seems all the core interact in usage. Even starting up Gimp pretty much makes me blink a couple of times. When I used my E4400, I could sit there and watch the files load, I don't even see the files load now. :lol: 
April 13, 2008 3:09:31 PM

Of course all cores are used. The OS moves system threads and background programs to spare cores, and dedicate a core (or 2, if the application is dual optimized) for the heavy program you're running.
April 13, 2008 3:44:04 PM

Heh.. Since I just got my Q6600 not long ago, I just noticing XP use the 4 cores, just seems more usage over my dual core.
April 13, 2008 4:32:56 PM

phillyman36 said:
Before I switched from my e6600 to my q9450 I did some some benchmarking to compare

Convert 30 Days of night dvd main movie

Dvd fab platinum
E6600 = 1:52:10 Q9450 = 1:28:09

Nero Recode (avc)
E6600 = 1:22:31 Q9450 = 45:56

Tmpg Express 4 (mpeg 4)
E6600 = 2:07:45 Q9450 = 1:04:18

multi tasking feels smoother and when dragging multiple files to another internal hard drive it doesn take as long


That's a notable difference. ...and to boot the Q9450 is cooler and more power efficient? ...worth the extra $$ to me.
April 13, 2008 4:52:14 PM

I bought the quad core because i play flight simulators, of which FSX is better on a quad than a dual.
April 13, 2008 5:00:43 PM

I have a question as I am trying to decide between the e8400 and the q6600 but I still want to continue using XP for a while, so is there a point to getting a quadcore or would I not see much improvement until I make the jump to vista64?

My current system has lasted me about 4 years so I would like get about 3yrs out of this new system.
!