The Million Dollar Question: Dual or Quad Core for the Same Price?

Before talk of Intel's July 22nd price cuts surfaced, we were hardly ever asked the question "dual or quad", simply because the price differential was so great. After next week everything changes, as you'll be able to pick up a quad-core Q6600 (2.4GHz) for a measly $266. At the same time, you could get a much higher clocked dual-core E6850 (3.0GHz) for the exact same price - so which do you pick?

This graph is a lot more colorful than our previous ones because the decision just isn't that clear. If you look at the average, quad-core gains an advantage over dual-core over all of our benchmarks, but if you look at the tests themselves you'll see some trends. Encoding and 3D manipulation benchmarks have the quad-core CPU clearly ahead, while general usage and gaming benchmarks mostly favor the higher clocked dual-core E6850. So, which do you choose?

If you're strictly building a gaming box, you'll get more performance out of the dual-core E6850. However, if you do any encoding or 3D rendering at all, the quad-core Q6600 is a better buy. Our pick is the Q6600 and if you want to make up the performance difference you can always overclock to E6850 speeds, but the chip only makes sense if you're running apps that can take advantage of four cores. As the chart above illustrates, those applications are almost exclusively limited to video encoding and 3D rendering.

$160 Battle: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ vs. Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Extremely, Mobile?
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  • mbf - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    I accidentally posted this in the comment section for the earlier article, but it seems to fit better here. Sadly I cannot delete the other comment...

    I've been wondering how older motherboards will work with the new FSB1333 processors. Specifically I'm interested how an ASUS P5W DH Deluxe without the latest BIOS would react to having e.g. an E6750 dropped in. ASUS claims support for FSB1333 processors for the P5W DH Deluxe as of 2205 beta.

    Would the system boot and run using a pre-2205 BIOS (although not at peak performance), so a BIOS upgrade can be performed? Or would the system fail to boot at all, like when the first Core 2 Duo processors surfaced and needed a BIOS upgrade to run at all on certain boards.

    The reason I ask this is that I've my eyes set specifically on that board (I have several reasons, ECC memory support being one of them). I had originally planned on getting an E6600 after the July 22 price cuts, but right now there's nearly no FSB1066 processor to be had locally. Also, I'd of course love to have a access to the latest processors in any case.
    Reply
  • number - Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - link

    Marvelous article. However, one benchmark is missing. Quad core processor may be used in the following way: two cores are working on a job that utilizes them to the max, while remaining two run a game. How well the processors fare under this scenario? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, July 18, 2007 - link

    Was the Q6600 compared to the E6850 at stock speed, and not with the boost from setting 1333 FSB? Is it really 10% faster in CS3 than the 3GHz E6850 (and therefore a lot quicker than my E6600)? And would similar improvements carry over to CS2, or did they improve multicore support in the transition from CS2 to CS3? Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, July 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Despite theoretical showings on paper, the 1333MHz FSB appears to do very little for performance even when feeding four of Intel's fastest cores.


    Maybe you should also add scores of 1066MHz FSB on the P965 rather than showing 1066FSB on P35 only. Your earlier tests with P35 have shown that there is performance improvement just by moving from P965 to the P35 chipset. Moving to P35 showed greater improvements than changing P35's supporting CPU from 1066FSB to 1333FSB.
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/31822/135/">http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/31822/135/ Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    (no edit button?)
    http://www.thetechrepository.com/showthread.php?p=...">http://www.thetechrepository.com/showthread.php?p=...
    Reply
  • scott967 - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    Seen various comments to "wait for G0" stepping coming out now or very soon. What stepping was used on this comparo and any comments on this stepping issue?

    scott s.
    .
    Reply
  • clairvoyant129 - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    I love how all these AMD proponents claim that Intel motherboards are too expensive. Then they claim the difference can buy them a much better video card.

    There are tons of cheap Intel motherboards that are just as good as comparable AMD motherboards.

    These fanboys are pathetic. Whats the next excuse?
    Reply
  • mamisano - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    Curious, anyone find these new Intel CPUs in stock, and if so are the prices in line with what has been listed? Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Monday, July 16, 2007 - link

    I have to agree this was a superb article. Well thought out and logical in all repects. Answers all buying questions from various angles.
    Of course, IBM's 300GHz CPU perhaps may make all this irrelevant - heh
    http://www.newtechspy.com/articles06/crystalcomput...">http://www.newtechspy.com/articles06/crystalcomput...

    While I am at it, the article on 32 bit addressing was also very clear and informative explaining the 4GB "wall", and the 2GB/2GB split. I am sure many on the web will make reference this article in the future.

    And the first power supply review was the third in this triad of superior investigation by the AT crew. Those graphs showing the PSU voltage vs wattage load are simply the best insight I've ever seen in a PSU review anywhere. Also interesting was the fact the Silverstone was advertised as a single 12V rail, but was in fact 4 separate.

    AT seems to be reinvigorated for some reason - kudu's to you, top notch work.
    Reply

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