Dual Core vs Quad Core Processors: Which Is Better?
Do more cores in a processor means better performance? It’s a common question that I get asked. And while it would be easy to just say, “Quad core processors are better than dual core processors,” and be done with it, the truth of the matter is a bit more complicated than that. As with most technology (like the engine in your car), a component’s efficiency and optimization is often more important than its basic parameters.
Computer processors are no different. Though on paper, a quad core appears to be the better option, in the real world this may not always be the case. Confused yet? No need to worry. Let’s take a look at what we’re talking about.
Speed or Multitasking – What’s Important to You?
Dual core processors can often be set up to run at faster speeds than quad cores. That’s because quad core processors are designed to handle multiple tasks at once, and most of them run at fixed clock speeds. Many dual core processors, by comparison, can be overclocked (ie. they can be made to run faster than advertised out of the box). If speed is a priority to you and you use your device for fairly rudimentary and mundane tasks, then a dual core processor is probably your best bet. When performing day-to-day tasks (such as reading this site), a faster dual core will outperform a quad core in most circumstances.
But let’s say you do more than just simple web browsing. Let’s say you are a graphics designer or computer engineer, and you have robust and memory-intensive software programs open for most, if not all, of the day. If that’s the case, then you’re certainly going to want a quad core processor. By adding cores, separate tasks can be handled more efficiently. Ultimately, that is the promise of multi-core processors. As cores are added, speed gains are incremental – that is to say, the gains aren’t linear (and the curve peaks early, not late). But multitasking becomes incredibly more efficient.
One More Thing to Consider…
So now you understand the relative merits of dual core and quad core processors. (In a nutshell, dual cores are often faster, but quad cores multitask better) However, there is a catch, and that is that many software programs aren’t designed to run on quad core processors. In effect, the added computing power afforded by a quad core processor can’t be adequately leveraged.
That’s disappointing, right? Well, it’s not quite as dour as we’re making it out to be. In fact, many games and software programs are starting to be built with multi-core processors in mind. This includes quad, hexa, and octa-core chipsets. Still, it’s something to take into consideration if you’re in the market.
So Which Should You Buy?
If you want to future-proof your device and ensure that it can provide years of service, we recommend a quad core processor from a maker like Snapdragon. Though you may be giving up a little bit in terms of outright speed, a quad core chip will allow you to run more programs at once and take advantage of future software programs, applications and games.