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Is a Quad core always better than a Dual core?

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March 3, 2011 2:47:48 PM

Need a simple question answered that Dell can't seem to comprehend. If the AMD Athlon II Quad core 630 is used in a non-multitasking environment and the clock speed is 2.8 ghz, what is the speed of a single core? Do I divide by four or is the clock speed the same for all four cores? There is an amazing amount of conflicting information on the web. Some say "divide by four." Dell says that's the maximum speed of each core.

I asked because a friend is ordering a new Dell Inspiron and I know from watching her that she rarely multitasks. She closes a program instead of minimizing it when she wants to open another program. I want to know if a quad core is the best fit for her. If not, what is?

More about : quad core dual core

a b à CPUs
March 3, 2011 2:51:21 PM

Dell is correct, you don't divide by four to get effective clock speeds! Who said that? What does your friend use the computer for?
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March 3, 2011 3:04:10 PM

As stated above...Dell is correct. If you have a 4 core CPU running at 2.6 ghz each core is running at 2.6 ghz.

If your choice is between a 2 core or a 4 core AMD processor, I'd personally go for the 4 core. Almost all processors worth buying these days are 4 core. Will 4 core necessarily outperform a 2 core? It depends on the application. Some applications don't take advantage of extra cores, but they don't really hurt to have around.
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a b à CPUs
March 3, 2011 3:06:53 PM

Genny said:
If you have a 4 core CPU running at 2.6 ghz each core is running at 2.6 ghz.


Not if you're using Cool'n'Quiet!
Yes, Genny is precise.
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March 3, 2011 3:10:56 PM

omnisome said:
Not if you're using Cool'n'Quiet!
Yes, Genny is precise.


I was trying to simplify things. :p 
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March 3, 2011 3:14:36 PM

omnisome said:
Dell is correct, you don't divide by four to get effective clock speeds! Who said that?
I have turned up several comments with Google that claimed you have to divide by four, but it didn't make sense unless someone was quoting numbers like 10+ GHz.
What does your friend use the computer for? said:
What does your friend use the computer for?
She talks to grandchildren and friends on Skype, she uses Yahoo web mail and now and then she makes mailing labels for a ladies club. She does no financial work, rarely surfs the web, and may play solitaire now and then. I'm sure she would appreciate more speed than her current 300 MHz (give or take 33 MHz) CPU, and she will certainly get that with the 2.8 or 3.0 GHz AMD 630. (I gather early models were 2.8 and current models are 3.0.) I was just making sure I was correct in assuming each core could run at that maximum clock speed.
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a b à CPUs
March 3, 2011 3:17:04 PM

As others have already said that is the speed of each core -- the difference will be in the amount of processes that can be done simultaneously - ie a dual core can handle 2 operations per clock where a quad can theoritically handle 4 per clock (theoritically because in order to use all 4 the system has to spread the workload to each core evenly and there has to be enough to spread out.) -- If as you say she only runs single applications at a time and those applications are older and not well written for multiple core usage then you may actually get better results from a faster clocked dual core instead of a slower clocked quad core (assuming they are the same generation of CPU - since newer generations can normally perform more operations at slower speeds so this may not hold true if the generations differ) -- it really depends on the programs used and the speed difference. -- so which way to go really depends on the work load and the specific hardware\software being used.
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a b à CPUs
March 3, 2011 3:30:25 PM

300MHz?! 1990s?

I myself used to think that the rated frequency of a processor divided by the number of cores was the speed per core. From what you tell me dcrane, I really really don't think that a quad-core CPU will benefit her more than a dual-core one.
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a c 471 à CPUs
March 4, 2011 2:34:32 AM

dcrane said:
...She talks to grandchildren and friends on Skype, she uses Yahoo web mail and now and then she makes mailing labels for a ladies club. She does no financial work, rarely surfs the web, and may play solitaire now and then...



She doesn't need a quad core CPU for that. Just get a dual core PC and she'll be happy. None of those tasks require much processing power.

If she talks her lady friends into a Crysis 2 multiplayer deathmatch game, then a quad core CPU (and a powerful video card) will come in handy.
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March 4, 2011 5:04:32 PM

jaguarskx said:
She doesn't need a quad core CPU for that. Just get a dual core PC and she'll be happy. None of those tasks require much processing power.

If she talks her lady friends into a Crysis 2 multiplayer deathmatch game, then a quad core CPU (and a powerful video card) will come in handy.



LMAO
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a b à CPUs
March 4, 2011 6:07:18 PM

Assuming the same clock speed and same architecture, a quad will always be better then a duo.

Now, each core runs at the listed speed, so a 2.5GHz Quad has each individual core running at 2.5 GHz. You can NOT however say you have a 10GHz processor, as theres no guarentee that all the cores will be able to sustain a full workload constantly.
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March 5, 2011 9:11:11 AM

It seems to me you should go for the quad anyhow, not for performance gains, but because its a better bet for any future applications she might use.
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a c 471 à CPUs
March 5, 2011 7:02:59 PM

WaywardX said:
It seems to me you should go for the quad anyhow, not for performance gains, but because its a better bet for any future applications she might use.


Like what?

Solitaire 3D?
Using G-Mail and Yahoo Mail at the same time?
Set up multiple Virtual PCs to run multiple sessions of Skype so she can speak to each individual grandchild at once?
Print 1,000 labels instead of maybe 50 labels?

Any 1.6Ghz - 2.0GHz dual core CPU will be more than enough for her needs.

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March 5, 2011 7:39:41 PM

jaguarskx said:
Like what?

Solitaire 3D?
Using G-Mail and Yahoo Mail at the same time?
Set up multiple Virtual PCs to run multiple sessions of Skype so she can speak to each individual grandchild at once?
Print 1,000 labels instead of maybe 50 labels?

Any 1.6Ghz - 2.0GHz dual core CPU will be more than enough for her needs.


Solitaire 3D. That statement just cracked me up. LMFAO!
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March 15, 2011 12:30:51 AM

I was not in a position to tell her what to buy, but I did need to tell her what to expect. The Dell came Saturday and I installed if for her. She is thrilled with the speed. You probably don't remember how long it takes to load IE at 300 MHz. You can literally go pour a cup of coffee in the kitchen while waiting. :sleep: 

The biggest problem was explaining why some of her applications would not run in 64-bit, but nothing was lost in the long run. I had already checked to be sure her HP All-In-One was supported.

I confess it's a sweet machine (Inspiron 570) even compared to my six-year-old Sony w/XP. But it's not so great that I'm going to buy a new one. My son-in-law does all the home-movie editing on his Mac and that leaves me with nothing that taxes a single-core 2.8GHz machine.
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March 15, 2011 12:32:00 AM

Best answer selected by dcrane.
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