Today, there are few games that are able to use more than two cores.
Yes, there are exceptions, like FSX and if you are in that category, ignore the rest of this post.
At the $200 price point, you can get a clarkdale 32nm i5-660 duo or a 45nm i5-750 quad.
The i5-660 will give you a clock rate of 3.33 vs. 2.66 without overclocking. More with an aggressive turbo.
If you want to overclock, the 32nm chip will overclock easier and higher than the i5-750.
You are not entirely giving up 4 threads either, since the 660 has hyperthreading while the 750 does not.
The H55 based motherboard will be limited to one pci-e X16 slot.
But, you can install a single very strong card in it.
The 5970 will run any game out there well, even at 2560 x 1600.
As a side benefit, if you have a second monitor that is not used for gaming, then the integrated graphics will take some load off of
the main gaming card.
For anything but a very high performance build, does it not make sense to consider the strong duo approach?
4850 gives exceptional performance in most games at 1680 x 1050
5850 gives exceptional performance in most games at 1920 x 1200
5970 gives good performance in most games at 2560 x 1600.
If you have a 2560 x 1600 monitor, it would take dual high end cards to give you
exceptional performance in most games. That scenario takes you out of the H55 motherboard, and into
A motherboard with two x16 slots. I am not suggesting a H55 for 2560 x 1600.
What cpu does it take to drive each of those cards?
And how much difference does a quad make?
Although the atricle is a bit old, it still makes the point.
In the tests, a Core2 duo E8400 @ 3.0 was able to achieve the same FPS as a
Q9450 @2.67. Only in the 1024 x 768 cases did the quads prove superior. But... in those cases, the E8400 still
drove the graphics card past 100fps. Far past what is needed for best gameplay.
If you game at higher resolutions, the need for high cpu power becomes less.
The clarkdale i3-530 duo @2.93 is fully the equivalent of the E8400
but costs only $125. The 540 @ 3.06 is $139 , the 650 @3.2 is $184.
Take your pick, but any of them should be able to drive a graphics card
sufficiently well for best gameplay.
The H55 motherboards will typically cost a bit less also.
If you have two monitors, how should you configure them
if only one is to be used for gaming?
a) Just connect them both to your graphics card.
b) Install a cheapo secong graphics card for the non-gaming monitor.
This has the advantage of freeing up the main card resources for gaming.
c) Attach the second monitor to the integrated adapter.
This is the advantage of a H55 motherboard. by eliminating the cost of a second
card while retaining the performance advantage.
If you have only one monitor, this is a moot point.
Are games really using more than two cores? Some are, but game developers will
sell fewer games if they require quads to run. It is harder to develop
programs that can use many cores. What is the advantage to the developers?
If your game is FSX or one of the few that are cpu limited and can use more than two
cores, by all means, get a quad.
If you are into overclocking, the 32nm chips, (available only as duo's today)
will overclock easier and higher.