Who Says You Need Four Cores?

Benchmarks: Media

Though the DivX scores clearly show some optimizations for threading, XviD can only take advantage of two cores.

Depending on the software you’re running, video encoding is one of those typical usage scenarios very likely to showcase the reasons to pay for an extra couple of cores. Of course, on a business workstation, media may not be a concern. But it’s at least good to know where the hardware can improve your computing experience.

Here we see the dual-core Core 2 taking a first-place finish in an application optimized for two threads. It’s somewhat enlightening that a dual-core configuration could out-perform a quad-core setup at a comparable clock speed.

Threaded or not, PowerDVD 8 illustrates the importance of hardware acceleration if you’ll be watching high-definition content during downtime. Both the AMD Phenom X4 9850 and Athlon X2 4850e are able to play through our Casino Royale sample without stuttering, but at the cost of being able to perform background tasks in the case of the 45 W dual-core chip. The solution? Drop an inexpensive Radeon HD 3450 or 3470 into the 740G’s PCI Express slot and enjoy the card’s high-def support.

Or simply buy a platform with one of AMD’s higher-end chipsets in it. We fired up our 780G system with an identical hardware configuration (using the Phenom X4 9850) and achieved 1.5% CPU utilization with PowerDVD. That’s even lower than the Intel scores we see here.

Meanwhile, Intel’s G45 keeps utilization down to about six percent—not bad.

Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • Well. It seem like virtualisation was left out as consider multi-core is critical for running virtualise application.
  • apache_lives
    waste of time to read, its been known for years that you dont compare clock speeds (in this case, 2.53ghz) - you compare price points! Wheres an Intel Quad? or a lower end Intel like a E4600 etc? and after all that BS, why the cheap AMD board thats "$10 - $15 less" against that expensive ass intel board? pffftttt
  • The_Trutherizer
    I completely don't get the point of the phenom 9850 in this review. Isn't this supposed to be a comparison of budget, workstation systems with dual core CPUs? Why put it in there? If you put a current Intel quad core in for consideration then it's power consumption would be high as well.

    What exactly are you trying to prove here? In any case. Any idiot knows that currently Intel's Dual core is the ideal processor. Currently of course.

    And what the hell were you thinking with the motherboard? A 740G? You even state in your conclusion that the 780G is a more fair comparison to the G45? Of course it is! Why did you even review the 740G then?

    I mean what a conflicting hodge podge of an article!
  • genored
    If you haven't bought a new computer in 6 years don't do a review about your epic fail of picking computer parts. I mean your just embarrassing....
  • rtfm
    If you give a million monkeys a typwriter, one of them will write a T.H article... Seriously, most of the readers of this site are well informed, this king of waffle is no good
  • curryj02
    so quad isn't worth it now... what about in six years. just as Hyper Threading has kept his P4 going so long, going quad will have the same effect. Quad doesn't scale now, but in six years? dual core will seem like single core is now - quad core = new dual core. Just my two cents
  • addiktion
    I currently run a Q6600 (3GZ OC) and it has done wonders for me. Take it I do a lot of Adobe Photoshop, gaming, coding, and generally have about 20-30+ windows open at one time which I would consider my "business" & "entertainment" use.

    If you add virtualization into the mix the quad core definitely has saved me. I don't experience any hiccups and now that I've migrated to 64 bit I've noticed a subtle gain in overall computing too.

    I think the highest I've hit on all my cores with extensive testing is 60-70%. This was running a few browser windows + 4 scanning programs at the same time and I did get some slow down due to my hard drive read/write speeds maxing out but nothing from the CPU. Which to me leaves plenty of room for what I actually do.

    Eventually when more software actually catches up to using 4 cores it'll be better utilized I suppose but for the most part I'm happy with it and I think you'll be happy with a dual or quad core.
  • fepple
    Running HL2:EP2 as a benchmark is pretty silly when its only single threaded

    "shocking news! new super car max speed only 30mph in residential areas"
  • monsta
    What a bunch of whiney old ladies you are! LOL
  • jitpublisher
    Nothing surprising, interesting, or useful about this. Am I missing something, was the article incomplete and posted early? Just don't get it.