Quad Core vs Dual Core & other buying advice

Discussion in 'iMac' started by golfgirlgolf, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. golfgirlgolf macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2008
    Californian living on the other West Coast (FL)
    One automatically assumes that a Quad Core machine is better - but in a recent article I was reading they mentioned that many programs don't even use the extra cores. How do you tell which ones do and which don't?

    Another thing to add to confusion is "speed" - like for instance a 3.33GHz Core 2 Duo vs a much lower 2.66 Quad Core. I suppose one single process might run faster on 3.33, but multiples would do better on a 2.66 quad?

    The "benchmark" tests tend to compare running things I never use - and measure performance in 1/1,000,000,000ths of a second differences. It might be nice if they did normal things - like measure how long it takes to run some automated batch task on 1000 files that normally takes 10 minutes. :)

    Anyway, I'm starting to shop for an iMac = I am currently using a 2009 Mini 2.0GHz - and am looking for a big bump in speed, and not sure if a new Mini would do it or not. I'm no fan of shiny reflective glass for my work environment so that was the main factor in choosing Mini when I replaced my last iMac G5 20" matte screen.

    As a photographer, I use Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5 a lot and sometimes the processing is too slow. For most other things it's just fine, although running a video conversion on a two hour movie in Handbrake, sometimes takes almost as long as the two hour movie itself! But that's not something I do every day - and once the project is done, Handbrake will get put away and only used off and on. Safari and NeoOffice - a dozen other small things are normal.

    So then - just go with the idea of - the more you pay the faster it will be?
    Pay less for a 3.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo vs a 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5? Or are the brand new iMac machines that much better/faster?
    Can a new Mini 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo improve much at all over my 2009 one? Or go with the cheapest 27" I can find and wait for the really fast machines to get replaced with the next generation USB 3.0 boxes?

    Thanks in advance for ideas!
  2. Vylen macrumors 65816

    Jun 3, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    You can tell if a program is multithreaded either by them telling you or just monitoring CPU usage while doing stuff.

    Lightroom 3 scales up to 6 cores it seems, so multiple cores can benefit you if you process a lot of photos all at once. Photoshop is a bit crap at multithreaded work and can utilise up to 4 cores but it's not very often that that would happen i think.

    I can't really suggest a machine for you though... perhaps the 3.33Ghz if you can get a really good price on it. Since the majority of your applications aren't thread-heavy and you'd benefit greatly from the speed.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Definitely the quad. i5-750 goes from 2.66GHz to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost and due newer and better micro-architecture, it's faster than the C2D even though the frequency is little lower. Also, in future, more and more software will take advantage of the extra cores. Buying C2D machine if you can afford an iX machine is simply dumb, C2Ds are ancient even though they are still decent
  4. tc3jg macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2010
    I asked the same question ended up going with the 2.666 ghz i5 will be here tomorrow and the wait has been killing me. hope I dont get a lemon
  5. golfgirlgolf thread starter macrumors member


    Aug 6, 2008
    Californian living on the other West Coast (FL)

    I appreciate the answers...sounds like minimally I should be looking at first generation quad cores then. I keep hoping for a MATTE screen 27" but it never happens. :( Oh well, guess I by one of these and sell in a couple of years if they ever figure it out - or better yet come up with a mid-tower - a headless iMac.

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