Difference Between Quad Core & Dual Core

by Matthew Smith

Dual core and quad core processors have some differences in design, but are also have surprisingly similar designs if the number of cores is ignored. Which processor is the best overall depends on your needs.

History

The first dual core processor, the Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840, was released in 2006. The first quad core, the AMD Phenom, was released in 2007.

Architectures

Although dual core processors and quad core processors have a different number of processing cores, that is where the differences end. Both Intel and AMD dual and quad core processors are based off architectures that can be used either as dual core or quad core processors.

Productivity Applications

There is little difference in the way quad core and dual core processors perform in simple applications like Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer.

Games

While quad cores are theoretically better for games, not all game developers program to take advantage of the two extra cores. Older games tend to run best on dual core processors, while most newer games take full advantage of quad core processors.

Rendering/Video Editing

Quad core processors have a serious performance advantage when it comes to performance in 3D rendering and video editing. The performance advantage of a quad core is typically between twenty and fifty percent.

Energy Consumption

Quad core processors typically consume more power than dual cores. There are some exceptions, however, such as the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 quad cores, which are more energy efficient than Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 dual core processors.

About the Author

Matthew Smith is a Portland, Ore.-based freelance writer. He writes about PC hardware and other topics for multiple publications, the largest of which are Demand Studios and BrightHub. He began writing in 2007 and has a bachelor's from Beloit College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera processor image by Valentin Mosichev from Fotolia.com