I currently have:
Core 2 Quad Q8200 @ 3.3 GHZ
4GB DDR2 RAM
GTX 260 (original, not core 216)
I play games and run multiple applications in the background.
Normally with games running my CPU usage in the mid 70% to mid 90% percentile (not sure if I used that word correctly). When I play RIFT for example, it usually hits the mid 90. The applications I run in the background are usually Java based (usually a resource hog), maybe a web browser with a few tabs, and AV/other utilities.
Which CPU would YOU recommend for me? If you do something like this which CPU do you have?
It's hard to say if a faster processor will help you or not, but your multitasking won't have an affect on it. You weren't specific with the things you are running in the background, but just having multiple browser windows open isn't really multitasking because when you switch out of that window, the browsers are doing nothing. If you are running anti-virus in another window then that is multitasking, but that's one task and you have 4 cores. I've read various tom's articles and they had an article one time where they ran some games with 1 core, then 2 cores, then 3 cores, then 4 cores. The sweet spot seemed to be 3 cores. Beyond 3 cores they didn't see much if any improvement. So if you have one core running antivirus then the other 3 are available for the game.
A faster cpu might help you just because it is running at a faster speed, but you're probably still talking about 4 cores. And depending on your GPU that might turn out to be the bottleneck. If you really had background apps running in multiple windows and they kept running while you were gaming, one of the newer Intel quad cores with hyperthreading might help, or you could go to a cpu with more than 4 cores.
My experience- I run an E8500 at work at 3.8GHz (2 cores) and I run a Q9400 at home at 3.4GHz (4 cores). I can have background tasks running on the dual core and it slows down significantly, but on the quad core the only way I know if my antivirus is running or not is when it displays a message that it has finished. I'm sold on the benefits of more than 2 cores. More than 4 cores, I think you have to be running programs that really want more cores.
I see a BIG difference between my i7-930 @ 3.8GHz (8 threads) at home and my Q9400 @ 3.2GHz (4 threads) at work. I never experience slow downs at home with the same software and it slows down every day at work (with several engineering programs running at once).
The i7-2600K also clocks higher than anything else (other than i5-2500K), which will make a huge difference. Anyways, if you don't want a low-end build that would hardly be an upgrade, the only choice is i5-2500K or i7-2600K. And if you have $100 that you can spend on something you don't really need, then you should go for the 2600K with a P67 motherboard (H67 cannot overclock). Z68 will work too when it comes out.