That is the answer I was looking for. At present I have an old Dell 8300 Pentium 4 3.0 Ghz HT. It was good in it's day, but it is slow and unresponsive when running several programs at once. I am not heavy into gaming so the biggest, baddest processor isn't isn't my cup of tea. I am trying to figure out what I should buy, 2 or 4 core processor. If I buy the fastest processor today, tomorrow it will be outdated, so I am leaning to buy something in the middle of the pack that will serve me well for the next 6 or so years. Thank you for your answer, it helped alot.
I built a new CAD workstation 2.5 years ago. At the time for the same budget you could get a real fast dual core processor, or a slightly slower quad core processor. I chose an E8500 dual core processor, and overclocked it to 3.8GHz. It works well but sometimes I have enough background processes running to overwhelm it and it slows down. Shortly after that I built a new machine for my home, and picked a Q9400 that I run at 3.4 GHz. It handles background tasks better. I can be using it to browse the net and download, and my virus scan will begin. I'm usually not even aware that it is running because the machine stays responsive, I just notice when it tells me it is finished.
Anyway for a desktop machine for an enthusiast I recommend a quad core processor. For a laptop I recommend a dual core unless you know that you really need a quad core, mostly due to considerations of budget, heat generation and battery life.