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Dual Cores for beginners


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#1
Junkman

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Looking to build my own PC for the first time, (though probably not for at least a month yet), looking at the range of CPUs available I realise that looking at the MHz is no longer a good enough way of judging what I want. So my first question is, what are the advantages of a dual core processor? Someome told me that dual-cores aren't that much more useful for resource-heavy applications (such as games) that aren't specifically designed to use both cores, because they draw on only one core while the other lies idle. This makes sense to me. But others have implied its not as simple as that. Then someone else on this site said that soon all modern games will be designed to use dual-core, so it makes sense to get one.
So, could people please give me a brief list of pros and cons, in laymen's terms? I'm looking to build a fairly high-end machine for gaming, so it's handling the big juicy games that is the biggest factor I'm concerned with.
Thanks.
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#2
Bobbydoo8

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Well my buddy got a FX-62 AMD Dual Core processor a few weeks ago and its really amazing. I benchmarked my computer, only about 2 yrs old(was upgraded pretty good back then), and his computer and we found a significant difference in processing power.

His processor ended up being 2x faster than mine. I am extremely surprised at the dual core processors because whenever they first came out I figured it was just a gimmic for them to get more money, I was wrong. A dual core processor, imo, would definately be worth it. :whistling:
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#3
SRX660

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I build gamer computer's for some friends and all of them have orders in for Intel Core2 Duo computers. We are waiting for a slightly better motherboard as the 975 is not quite the right setup yet. A couple of gamers have interest in a NF 4 motherboard if they come out in time. One of them i just built a AMD 4200 puter for but the Core2 Duos can be easily overclocked and will blow away the AMD's everytime. AMD got caught with their pants down this time. It's probably going to take them a year to catch up and a year to a gamer is like forever.

SRX660
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#4
warriorscot

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You dont really get much choice with new computers its dual core or old kit, all the newer stuff is dual core and its better than older single core stuff, on a budget AMD is good or if you maybe arent to sure i often find them easier to build and explain to newbs they are much better in terms of explaining there product and the motherboards a usually cheaper and better but if you have a bit of cash the best you can get is one of the intel core 2s.
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#5
Junkman

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Well it's the Intel Core Duos that really prompted me to ask this question, cause their core speeds are significantly slower than other options. I am on a budget, but on the other hand I'd rather save up for quality and not have to upgrade again in six months than buy something cheap that isn't going to do the trick. I read up a little about them and what I read was that C2Ds are going for quality rather than raw clock speed, which sounds good, but the problem is I can't really afford the very fastest and I'd have to go with the E6400 or at best probably the E6600. But those are only 2.13 and 2.40 GHz, which really doesn't seem like it would be enough for modern games that will only utilise one core at a time. By comparrison with the Intel Pentium Dual Core range you can get 3.4GHz at a little over half the price. I'm sure the quality is lesser in some ways, but that seems much faster, and to an amateur like me like it seems it would be alot better for high-end gaming.
I've seen several people on this board sing the praises of the E6600, but if you want to game is that only an option if you're planning to overclock? Could you use an E6600 for modern games without overlclocking?
And one more little question, with the AMD X2 range, in "AMD Athlon64 5200+X2 Dual Core AM2 S-940" does 5200 mean 2 X 2600?
Thanks for the responses so far

Edited by Junkman, 21 January 2007 - 05:23 AM.

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#6
SRX660

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You need to look at these graphs to see why gamers are going to core2 duo cpu's.

http://www.tomshardw...ge12.html#games

and this

http://www.theinquir...x?article=34518

Personally i will wait until prices come down. I don't game a lot and usually spend most o my time building computers so i don't need the speed yet. i'll probably wait until one of my gamer friends decides he needs the newest fastest cpu out and then build a core 2 computer with his leftover cpu.

The 5200 in the athlon cpu's only means that is what they rate the cpu at compared to Intel cpu's, even tho the real speed of the cpu is 267Mhz.

SRX660

Edited by SRX660, 21 January 2007 - 07:28 AM.

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#7
warriorscot

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Core speeds mean very little even the slowest core 2 will be better than a very good pentium, the 5200 doesn't mean two 2600 its a scale AMD use callen intel equivalence although it based on pentium speed rather than core 2s, before AMD had lower clock speeds than intel and people seem to relate clock speed as the most important performance factor where its really a combination of other things they used other technologies to keep clock speed down but boost performance whereas intel used clockspeed to boost performance in there pentium range so thats where that comes from, it would be equivalent to a 5.2Ghz pentium 4 thats where that comes from, intel saw the light and took a leaf from AMDs book for the core2s and lowered the clock speeds but used other things(notable l2 cache) to make them faster. the dual core pentium would be slower than the AMDs or the core2s you could get.

I wouldn't plan on an overclock you clearly dont know enough about it you need to be very familiar with computers and how the work to overclock safely it also reduces the life of the components and increases heat output you also need to spend more on other parts in order to do it so it doesn't always work out as something to get more bang for your buck.

The 6400 is plenty for gaming, gaming isnt really all that CPU dependant it relies much more on the GPU so a good graphics card is a higher priority after a certain point the CPU isn't a big factor in games a better CPU can improve performance but its not as much as the graphics card.
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#8
SuperSam

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Dual core is DEFINATELY the way to go. People saying they are not as good for gaming is debatable, this doesn't mean they will be bad in games, they will still blow away any previous generation processors. The dual core processors, as you know, are effectively two processors in one. Most applications today are designed for only being run on a single core processors, but as the programming knowledge expands people are able to code multi-processor software, meaning it takes advantage of both cores. Some games do do this, but not many. As we get further into the future of computer processing and software development alike, we will see more and more dual core games available, effectively giving you double the processing power.

Despite this, programs that are very processor intensive today are very handy if you have a dual core processor. If they are only based on single core processing, then the software will ONLY USE ONE CORE, meaning you have another core which is barely being used. On the basis that you have a sufficient amount of ram (I recommend at least 1GB) you can run another intensive program and not experience hanging or lag! There are many reasons to get a dual core processor, and the people who say dual cores are not good for gaming are passing on opinionated views.

EDIT:

You will also find newer processors today are easily overclockable, I have found that AMD processors are better for overclocking than the Intels. I have only ever tried overclocking dual core P4s, and single core pentium 4s, but I have been told stories of HIGH clock rates on Core 2 Duos that run at low temperature.

Edited by SuperSam, 21 January 2007 - 09:08 AM.

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#9
Junkman

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Cool, thanks alot guys, that helps alot. I wasn't planning on doing any overclocking, for the reasons you mentioned warriorscot, I was just making sure that people weren't recommending certain CPUs because they're good for overclocking (which would be of no use to me).
So I'll be taking a look at those links and then next I guess I'll probably be asking what to look for in a GPU, but I'll save that for another thread. Thanks again.

Edited by Junkman, 21 January 2007 - 01:48 PM.

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#10
warriorscot

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I would just keep it in this thread save us space and time easier to keep track of things, overclocking wise everything is the same you don't really get much in the way of special overclocking hardware you just tend to buy better quality so you dont need to worry about getting any hardware designed for it that you dont want, CPU wise they are all the same although looking at overclocking properties is a good judge of what the chip will be like in normal use a chip that overclocks well and keep temperatures low will give you a cool system and the CPU will have a good lifetime at normal clock speed. so its useful in its way even if you don't intend to actually overclock anything, you'll find coolers designed for keeping things cool at higher temperatures caused by overclocking and they are sold in a way to appeal to overclockers but you'll find at normal temperatures they cool to really low temperatures meaning you can lower the fan speeds making the system quieter.

For your graphics card youll probably want to hold out till ATI release there dx10 cards this year hopefully it shouldn't be much longer they are supposed to be released early first quarter 2007 i had expected them already and reference testing cards have already made there way to reviewers so soon thatll reduce prices of the nvidia dx10 cards already out and the ATIs seem to outperform the nvidias at least the test cards did and they are usually inferior to the final release product.
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#11
SuperSam

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For your graphics card youll probably want to hold out till ATI release there dx10 cards this year hopefully it shouldn't be much longer they are supposed to be released early first quarter 2007


Next month :whistling:
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#12
warriorscot

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Conceivably, there is a possibility they will release them the same day as vista and dx10
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#13
The_Shadow_630

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If you are working on a new build and have the money to invest, go with the dual core at least, but the Core Duo if you can. THe difference is simply number of threads that it runs at once. A standard processor now runs one thread at a time. So a 3.2 GHz processor process one thread at 3.2 GHz. Now, a Dual Core can do that same amount of work in the same amount of time or less if it is one 1.5GHz because it processes two threads at once, and both of them run at 1.5GHz. Dual Core is like having two processors in one. Core Duo is even better in that it is like have 4 processors in one. If you want to compare the speeds of them, take the Duo Core speed and multiply it times 2 to get a comparable speed for a single core processor. Multiply the Core Duo speed by four to get a comparable speed. If I had the money at the moment, I would definately be building a Core Duo PC right now. They are the best and fastest things running, especially for gamers out there. Package it with some good RAM, a good MB, and a good HD and you will have an awesome system.

Although, if you have not seen it yet, and it is very expensive, but Dell has come out with a new Desktop that is awesome. You should really check it out. The cooling system is fantastic and the components can't be beat. If I was going to buy a pre-built computer, and money was not a problem, I would definately buy this monster. Here is the link to it if you are interested.

http://www.dell.com/...u...s=dhs&cs=19
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#14
james_8970

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Sure the XPS systems are great systems but your paying a premium when you start paying over 1000$. I believe once you hit the 1000$+ range you start saving $$$$$.
Dual cores are the only way to go now, having no advantage with dual cores in games are about to become a thing of the past as more and more games become multithreaded as are applications. Just wish Microsoft had made all the versions of vista multithreaded, it would have really set them apart from lunix and apple.
There's never been a better time to buy a CPU either, with Intel and AMD's price wars, prices have never been lower. Hope Nvidea and ATI follow suit. :whistling: As for ATI's card, it has been rumored to be released as late as march 7 or 8, but as well as that vista's launch. However AMD/ATI have kept such a tight lip over this release it could be anyone guess when it's released. I only hope in the end is that it kicks Nvidea's butt and isn't over priced. I typically favor ATI over Nvidea but I'll go with which ever one is on top when I buy.
James

P.S. Core duo doesn't equal Core 2 duo
Core 2 duo is the best there is at the moment and is the second version of Core duo. Core duo I believe was a mobile based CPU.

Edited by james_8970, 24 January 2007 - 05:34 PM.

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#15
warriorscot

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Well march would totally screw ATIs road map they are releasing the dx10 laptop GPUs in march. ATI was always tight lipped and the first you here is often the day they arrive in the shops and with the AMD merger they have been making very little noise.

XPS fairly sucky not to bad you can easily get worse but they are heavily over priced and if you were buying a built computer for decent money dell would be the last port of call lots of MUCH better builders for high end systems.

Shadow 360 your explanation is both simplified and wrong, yes you have more processors on the same die however they dont add up to equivalent of one really fast single core they can only go as fast as each core can go they arent cumulative or inter dependant, AMD are working on technology to unify cores for single thread apps but its a while off. And core Duo and core 2 duo were different CPUs core duo was a stepping stone to core 2.
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