What would be better for gaming between a Quad Core i7 3630QM (2.40GHz) and a Dual Core i5 3380M (2.90GHz)? Obviously the i7 has four cores with hyper-threading, but there's 0.50GHz more power in the two cores of the i5. I know that gaming is mostly dependent on GPU, but was just wondering which of these CPUs would offer better performance (even if it is slight).
The vast majority of games only use 2 cores. There are some games that can use more than 2 cores and more will eventually released, however, they will be small in number compared to the number of games only using 2 cores.
Naturally, you should research which games you plan on playing to find out if they can make more than 2 cores. For example, Skyrim only use 2 cores. Battlefield 3 only uses 2 core in single player mode, but it can use more than 2 cores in multi-player mode. I believe ARMA 2 can use up to 6 cores. Crysis 3 is capable of using more than 2 cores.
Let's take a look at Crysis 3 since it is new and I was able to find a CPU comparison chart as follows:
The Core i3-3220 @ 3.3GHz can get 31.7 average FPS. The Core i5-3570K @ 3.4GHz is only 100MHz faster, but the average FPS is 50.5. That represents a 59% increase in FPS; or 18.8 FPS. The 100MHz difference contributes a very small amount of that increase (like 1 FPS out of the 18.8 FPS). A quad core is clearly better.
The problem with i7-3630QM @ 2.4GHz and the i5-3380M @ 2.9GHz is the 500MHz difference. That's basically a 21% difference in clock speed. Naturally, that means you will not be getting a 59% increase in FPS, but something less. A rough estimate is about a 46% increase. That's calc'ed by 59% * (100% - 21%).
When you play games that only use 2 cores, then the core i5-3380M would perform better simply because of the higher clockspeed. Skyrim will run better on the i5-3380m, it will be less than 21% though (the % difference between 2.9GHz and 2.4GHz) because clockspeed does not scale perfectly in the real world.
Wow, what a great reply! So just to clarify - on games that use more than 2 cores, there will be a significant increase in framerate (roughly 46% on average), but on games that use only 2 cores, there will be a small increase (less than 21%). Is this right?
The 1st part is right. If you buy the quad core I7 3630QM you will generally get rough performance increase of 46% compared to the dual core i5 3380M. At least based on the comparison of desktop CPUs,
But you are wrong on the 2nd part. For games that only uses 2 cores the i7 3630QM will have lower performance than the i5 3380M simply because of the 500MHz difference. In Skyrim the i5 3380M can potentially give you up to a 21% increase in performance because the cores are clocked higher. In other words, the i7-3630QM is about 17% slower than the i5 3380M in games using only 2 cores due to the lower clockspeed.
Each core offers a base speed of 2.4 GHz but can dynamically increase clock rates with Turbo Boost up to 3.2 GHz (for 4 active cores), 3.3 GHz (for 2 active cores) and 3.4 GHz (for 1 active core).
Each core offers a base speed of 2.9 GHz but can dynamically increase clock rates with Turbo Boost up to 3.4 GHz (for 2 active cores) and 3.6 GHz (for 1 active core). As its predecessor Core i5-3360M, it offers a 3 MB L3-Cache.
So the 3380m is only 100mhz faster then the i7 in dual core mode. The i7 cpu is like over 90% faster at 100% load.
Anyway the graphics card will be your main bottleneck.
Obviously buying a dual core processor at this day and age is a stupid decision if you're a serious gamer, but then again, a serious gamer won't be buying a laptop for gaming
I would beg to differ sir. I mean no disrespect at all, but I am very serious about gaming but my dad lives on the opposite side of the country from me. I travel a lot and therefore need the portability of a laptop. I know desktops have advantages, but laptops do as well.