C2Q vs. C2D for multitasking and general use?

brettjrob

Senior member
Jul 1, 2003
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#1
I've researched Intel's current offerings til I'm blue in the face over the past month, but still have yet to make up my mind because of all the attractive options at various price points. The vast majority of my computing time is spent on general use - browsing, e-mailing, playing music, IM, MS Office, Photoshop CS3, etc. The catch is that, like many, I'm often doing all of those at the same time. I plan on gaming lightly, but not enough that it's my main consideration for this build.

Combing through this and other forums lately, I've seen various claims made that quad-core is significantly better for heavy multitasking than dual. I've also seen plenty of claims that this is not true at all; that there's virtually no discrepancy now, and probably won't be for at least a year or two to come.

Perhaps those with experience running both duals and quads at similar clock speeds - i.e., a E6600 vs. Q6600, or E8400 vs. Q6600 @ 3GHz, could help me out here. Is there a noticeable difference in heavy multitasking? Specifically, for example, let's say I want to have Firefox open with 20 tabs, Thunderbird, AIM, Winamp, Avast, Photoshop, Google Earth, encoding audio, and MS Word... and a movie or game playing on a second monitor, just for the sake of argument. Is this a scenario where a current-generation C2D would potentially start sputtering, but an equivalent C2Q would chug right along?

Just a humble suggestion from a n00b, but a sticky or something addressing this topic might prove useful. Surely there are others who want to factor this into their buying decision, but the answer is inexplicably evasive (at least as far as I can tell) in light of the fact that most reviews and forum chatter focus solely on whether a given upgrade will add a few FPS in Crysis, or similar single-app benchmarks. It's abundantly clear from all I've read that 95% of current applications, on their own, favor clock speed over extra cores... but is multitasking and overall OS performance a different beast?

(BTW, I realize that having sufficient RAM and a fast HD are also critical in building a snappy/responsive system, so I'm planning to pick up 4GB DDR2 and a WD640 with whatever CPU I settle on... if I can ever make up my mind!)
 
Aug 25, 2001
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#2
A quad is only helpful for multitasking if you run multiple apps that each require a cpu core. Most of the apps you described take only a fraction of a cpu core, with the possible exception of photoshop. So i would say no, a quad is not a compelling purchase for you. I would go with an overclocked E8400 myself.
 

Mwing

Senior member
Sep 29, 2001
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#3
My usage is like 5 or so IE7, ACDSee, Winamp, many programs like temperature monitoring, side bar with lots of gadgets, WCIII and ventrilo. I guess it isnt heavy.

Coming from E6750 @ 3.2 ghz to Q9450 @ 3.2 ghz I dont notice much of a difference. I think if multi-tasking is heavier than I mentioned above then you will feel that.
 
Apr 18, 2008
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#4
yea, how does multitasking work for you now on your P4 2.4GHz? I do light multitasking on my 5 year old Barton and I noticed it slow only a few times. If you really need the performance of a quad, you would be aware of it and not asking us about it. VirtualLarry summed it up well. Buy whatever you want.

Seems like we get about 5+ threads about the same thing every day...

 

boomhower

Diamond Member
Sep 13, 2007
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#5
I went from an E8400 at 4Ghz to a Q6600 at 3.2Ghz and noticed virtually no difference in day to day tasks. For heavy multi-tasking you are going to realize a bigger gain from increasing your memory. When I went from 2GB to 4GB I noticed a significant difference.(Vista Ultimate 64) But for the processor the difference I noticed was in what I bought it for encoding. If you are not using programs that are designed to use a quad then you are likely not going to realize any improvement. You are better off just using a cooler running dual and saving on your power bill.
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
21,126
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#6
Originally posted by: VirtualLarry
A quad is only helpful for multitasking if you run multiple apps that each require a cpu core. Most of the apps you described take only a fraction of a cpu core, with the possible exception of photoshop. So i would say no, a quad is not a compelling purchase for you. I would go with an overclocked E8400 myself.
:thumbsup:

I suspect the biggest performance improvement most folks would notice and appreciate in their multitasking environments is not from increasing their core count from 2 to 4 but from migrating to an SSD and dropping those program loading and file opening random access times by a factor of 100x.
 
Aug 3, 2008
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#7
Yeh you're really only going to notice a difference in quad core performance if you start using programs that heavily use a single (or more) core(s). So, for example, you could encode two or three movies and play a game much faster on a quad core than you will on a dual core.

Playing music, having multiple browser tabs open, and using Microsoft Office can easily be done a fast single core processor.
 

brettjrob

Senior member
Jul 1, 2003
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#8
All the responses are appreciated!

It sounds like an E8400 will work great for my uses. I may yet go for the Q6600, since I'm not planning on upgrading for a few years (unless Q9xxx prices ever drop below $150 before getting phased out), but the greater heat output is a concern, and is really the reason I'm having to ask this question in the first place.

To answer solog's question: yes, multitasking is rather painful on my current setup. That's probably more due to the 1 GB RAM and slow PATA hard disk than anything, of course. Clearly I need to address those two problems before even thinking about the processor, but being stuck with DDR(1) and AGP on my current mobo, there's really no reasonable upgrade path - thus the plan to build an entire new rig. I'm well aware that even going from my P4 to an older Allendale would make a large difference in CPU power - but since I'm going to be spending the money to build again in the first place, I may as well get the best bang for my buck.

As far as "the same question being asked 5 times a day," I don't agree, though admittedly I haven't been here regularly for very long. It seems to me that "will X upgrade help me with Y game?" is asked 50 times a day, but my question regarding general use and multitasking is a bit harder to find an answer to. Maybe I didn't search hard enough, though.
 

Tempered81

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2007
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#9
Nah, your question is a bit more specific, and a great question too. Generally, as stated above, when you are using programs like 3d rendering, DVD/video encoding, or folding programs, the quad core has better performance because the programs are authored multithreaded. The same is true for games like UT3, Supreme commander, and some others. Going by the statements above from owners of both dual & quadcores, the feel of multitasking is quite similar. The thing with overclocking is the ease of reaching 4ghz on a dualcore is not quite there with a non-extreme quadcore. (power draw, thermals & low multipliers) Also, price plays a large role in the decision.

I say, "to each his own". Since multi-core cpus/gpus are the wave of the future, Quad is definitely more future proof if you aren't upgrading for 4-5 years.
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
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#10
Originally posted by: jaredpace
I say, "to each his own". Since multi-core cpus/gpus are the wave of the future, Quad is definitely more future proof if you aren't upgrading for 4-5 years.
That made me shudder when I read it...no upgrade for 4-5 years!?

Such profanity should be heavily censored by the mods here, this is a family-sensitive forum mister!
 

brettjrob

Senior member
Jul 1, 2003
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#11
Originally posted by: Idontcare
Originally posted by: jaredpace
I say, "to each his own". Since multi-core cpus/gpus are the wave of the future, Quad is definitely more future proof if you aren't upgrading for 4-5 years.
That made me shudder when I read it...no upgrade for 4-5 years!?

Such profanity should be heavily censored by the mods here, this is a family-sensitive forum mister!
lol, way back in the day (2003) I would've agreed. Then I went off to college, and somehow the funds to rebuild on an annual basis sort of dried up, so I stopped gaming and self-censored myself from tracking new hardware releases for the most part. Before I knew it, 5 years had gone by, and here I am with a Northwood/DDR-based system in 2008 that chokes on just about anything but Firefox and Office.

I doubt I'll go another 4-5 years this time, but 2-3 years is a distinct possibility, as my limited budget now includes other priorities. That's why I'm so incredibly frustrated in making this decision. I could go for the dirt-cheap E7200, a $50 savings over the 8400, with the expressed plan of swapping for a Q9xxx in a year or so, assuming prices plummet when Nehalem comes into the mainstream - but I'm concerned the 3mb of L2 could make me regret that in short order. So I'm primarily looking at the 8400 and 6600, and while the price difference isn't of particular concern, the thermal characteristics and power draw are.

I guess it's the price you pay when there are so many attractive options at reasonable price points... there are far worse problems one could have.
 

Idontcare

Elite Member
Oct 10, 1999
21,126
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#12
Originally posted by: brettjrob
I could go for the dirt-cheap E7200, a $50 savings over the 8400, with the expressed plan of swapping for a Q9xxx in a year or so, assuming prices plummet when Nehalem comes into the mainstream - but I'm concerned the 3mb of L2 could make me regret that in short order.
The performance jump you are going to experience thanks to that 2.6GHz P4 when you make the upgrade to E7200 or higher is going to be a treat for you.

I doubt, completely doubt, that you will be dissapointed by the performance of a 3MB L2$ processor...will it be slower than an E8400? Yes. Will it be so much slower that you notice you have a slow computer system with an E7200? Not at all, not coming from that P4 2.6GHz.

I think your upgrade plan is the intelligent path forward. Pace yourself and time the market price drops as you laid out. I don't see how you will be unhappy with the performance you will be buying.

E7200 are not good enough for upgrades for people with overclocked E6600's, perfect for people with P4's and on an upgrade budget.
 
Apr 18, 2008
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#13
Originally posted by: brettjrob

I'm well aware that even going from my P4 to an older Allendale would make a large difference in CPU power - but since I'm going to be spending the money to build again in the first place, I may as well get the best bang for my buck.
Best bang for the buck is likely the E2180. The Q6600 costs about 3 times as much but how often is it 3 times faster? The E7200 would be a closer call I think as it is only about double.

You say thermals and power draw are most important to you so dual core would win there. I'd say consider waiting for the E5200 as it will be sub $100 and an E0 stepping (most likely).

Didn't notice it above but do you plan on overclocking?
 

brettjrob

Senior member
Jul 1, 2003
214
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#14
Thanks again for the replies.

Last night I finally ended the insanity and put in my order at the Egg. Settled for the 8400. I'm still not sure it was worth the $50 over the 7200 for my purposes, but my rationalization was that with the 7200, I'd have to buy a $30 after-market cooler to overclock to 3GHz+; whereas I think I'll stick with stock cooling and avoid heavy overclocking on my 8400, at least for awhile.

Still not entirely confident that skipping out on the Q6600 was the right move, but if I'm lucky and this time next year you can pick up a good Yorkfield for under $150, I won't have any regrets.
 

Drsignguy

Platinum Member
Mar 24, 2002
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#15
Originally posted by: brettjrob
Thanks again for the replies.

Last night I finally ended the insanity and put in my order at the Egg. Settled for the 8400. I'm still not sure it was worth the $50 over the 7200 for my purposes, but my rationalization was that with the 7200, I'd have to buy a $30 after-market cooler to overclock to 3GHz+; whereas I think I'll stick with stock cooling and avoid heavy overclocking on my 8400, at least for awhile.
Still not entirely confident that skipping out on the Q6600 was the right move, but if I'm lucky and this time next year you can pick up a good Yorkfield for under $150, I won't have any regrets.

I think this is an understatememt but I am confident you will be happy with your choice. IDC has laid out some great advice and from the P4 platform to a C2D will be a great big performance improvement. Enjoy your new chip and give a little bit of time, You will want to see how high your new chip can go...
Not to throw a bone your way but, I have read many threads that the E8400 can get to 4Ghz fairly easy. Have fun! :)

 

Zap

Elite Member
Oct 13, 1999
22,378
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#16
Originally posted by: brettjrob
Last night I finally ended the insanity and put in my order at the Egg. Settled for the 8400. I'm still not sure it was worth the $50 over the 7200 for my purposes, but my rationalization was that with the 7200, I'd have to buy a $30 after-market cooler to overclock to 3GHz+; whereas I think I'll stick with stock cooling and avoid heavy overclocking on my 8400, at least for awhile.
You haven't seen the stock cooler that comes with the E8400. :p I have one in front of me... reminds me of those old Wendy's commercials, "Where's the beef?"
 

Tempered81

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2007
6,375
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#17
yah, made out of tin-foil with a radeon 9800 PRO fan on it, neat spirally design, with elmers glue on the bottom. You could probably run your e8400 stock with no HSF at all, as long as you dont unzip a movie or run linpack.
 
Aug 25, 2001
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#18
After picking out an E8400, you owe it to yourself to pick out a good 3rd-party heatsink. You WILL want to overclock to 4ghz, but not on the stock heatsink.
 
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