What if I want to have dual 24" 1900 x 1200 monitors and on one side watch and record tv with a tv tuner card and the other side play a game on medium- to- high settings all while rendering large files. What kind of computer could support this type of multitasking? In this case, would the AMD x6 hexacore be for me?
The "smoothness" of your described experience would depend almost completely on the "quality of coding on ALL those concurrent apps. ... and, the power of the system does come into play but, because of "resource mastering" (hogging), all those apps would need to be fairly "aware", to share central resources without any major hicoughs (hiccups).
The GOOD news is that a dual screen HTPC/DVR/Lite-Game system can be "handled" smoothly by just about any Proc that runs above 2.6 GHz and has at least two cores ... add any GPU that is at least as good as the latest onboard graphics chipsets ... Even ONE GT220 ... And you can do everything except to render ... That is assumoing you are not playing highly animated simulations.
So, Hate to tell you this, but I can just allmost do all that with my NorthWood P4 Hyperthreading single core @3.2GHz with a 7600GT (turbo clocked) GPU. ... Correction ... I AM doing all that, right now ... Fox-Online ... Hoyle Poker ... Tom's Forums and a butt-load of browser tabs (newegg/tomsx3/WikiPedia/Google/Mail) and I am hooked up to TWO HDTVs so, I like to just use the built in tuners, in each monitor ... that lets me do all sorts of crazy stuff.
Now, ... I am SOON (August) going to purchase a RENDER ENGINE that will have at least 4 Cores running in excess of 3.6GHz (Clocked) and that system will also have 6 or 8GB of RAM (890FX or X58+) and a hi-bandwidth HD-SDI video capture card (BlackMagic Design DeckLink) ... and Two SSDs and one spinner.
But I am not going to task that new system with my entertainment sessions ... The P4 is doing that. THE new computer is for INGEST/EDIT/RENDER and I will kick-off long output transcodes on that machine (as if it was a washing mashine) and do everything else with my other computer.
Sometimes ... It is better to have a stand-alone, dedicated blue-ray player, than to have a system attached playback drive.
Sometimes ... It is better to have 3 smallish computers than to have one powerful one.
Why try to make one system do everything? ... Better to parcel out to dedicated sub-servers.
I live in a project studio ... This is the way to go.