Dual or Quad? Which is better?

Posted by: pctutorials  :  Category: Hardware, Tips

There have been many heated debates amongst many PC enthusiasts about which CPU in cores is better. Some say a dual core is better because the cores are clocked higher than a similar price quad. Others say quad is better because it has twice the amount of cores as a dual core. So which one is the better product?

Back when single core CPU’s dominated the market, they key to processing information quicker was determined by the FSB and maxing out the clock speed. Eventually, both Intel and AMD hit the limitation of single threaded processing. To make logical sense of why we have more than one core nowadays is because programs are making use of pipelining, a way of processing instructions faster. Instead of waiting for one thread to finish, pipelining allows the next thread to start once the first step in the machine cycles has been completed. See Diagram 1 for a visual understanding.

Diagram 1


Taking that diagram into account, imagine a dual core processing the above four instructions; it would need to complete the first two threads before it could start the next two. But if we use a quad core to process it, it could start all four threads at the same time.
Quad core is better then, right? In theory, yes, but only if programs are optimized for multi-threading, which at the moment there aren’t a lot. This is where a dual core tends to have an edge over a quad. It processes a thread at a faster rate just like the single core CPU’s did.
So if your gamer and need the best value/ performance ratio, the dual core is your winner because there aren’t many games that utilize four cores. However, if you’re a video editor, or use CAD or any other design/editing tool, chances are they have been optimized for pipelining, which Quad cores process well. But what if your some one that surfs the net, plays the occasional game and edits photos? This is where most people are at, and generally speaking, if you’re not a power user, a dual core should suffice. But if you’re running Adobe Photoshop, MSN messenger, have a web browser open and are maybe encoding a video file all at the same time, a quad core would be the best choice. Why? Because running four different programs at once would allow each core on the CPU to be utilized and not bring the computer speed to a crawl.


As a result, to say which one is better is a hard call for it to be universal, rather the best one is dependent on your own needs.

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One Response to “Dual or Quad? Which is better?”

  1. Green IT – How to Cut Your Power Bill « Skin Talk Says:

    [...] run hotter than Intel. You should also decide whether to buy either a dual core or a quad core. See Dual Or Quad? Which is Better? Consider buy a Western Digital hard disk, as Western Digital has produced a [...]

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