For a given application, is it better to use a Dual Core at 3 GHz or a Quad Core having a lower frequency, as they are often offered at the same price?
Until last year, the typical answer was:
For applications running in parallel (multi threaded) as video encoding, file compression, Quad Cores proved to be the outstanding and it is always true.
For gaming, however, the response was different: the games do not use all 4 cores of a quad, with rare exceptions such as Supreme Commander or GTA 4, it was better to take a Dual Core at 3 GHz or more.
But in 2010, things have changed:
2 factors have change the rules for the Quad Core and games:
Turbo mode from the new Intel I5 and I7 Core using the socket 1156 can automatically increase the frequency when just one or 2 cores are activated, depending on the applications. For example, Core i5 750 runs at 2.66 GHz when all 4 cores are enabled, but it will automaticallty shift to 3.2 GHz when only 2 cores are required:therefore there is no reason to have to choose between Dual Core 3.2 GHz or Quad Core 2.66Ghz, Core i5 750 complies to both frequencies.
The new games like BattleField Bad Compagny 2 or Metro 2033 uses significantly Quad Core, a new reason: the 'PhysX' or management of particles (explosions etc) is now managed by the CPU ...
According to a test performed by Hardware Magazine No.46, a Quad Core 2.66Ghz is 10% better than a Dual Core 3.33GHz with the game Metro 2003, and 20% better with Bad Compagny 2.
This game uses the better Quad Cores with Hyper Threading (HT) as the Core i7 800, with a gain of 25% compared to non-HT Quad 2.66Ghz, an increase of over 50% compared to Dual Core 3.33GHz!
The answer is clear in 2010: Opt for Quad Core, preferably with Hyper Threading, whatever your applications!
The 'PhysX', or management of particles, and called for nVidia PhysX, is entrusted to the GPU (graphics processor).
Owners of ATI graphics cards will not benefit from these effects.
Aware of the frustrations that have been created, game developers have apparently decided to entrust the management of particles to the CPU, taking into account the potential of quad-core.