When you’re looking for a new laptop, then the most important thing that you consider is the specs that it has. Of course, you need to make sure that you have enough storage, and the screen size that your laptop has is right for you as well.
However, the most important thing for many people is the power of your laptop. The power and speed of your laptop is primarily dictated by two things – the memory that the laptop has (the RAM), and the processor that it uses.
For some activities like gaming, you may argue that the graphics card (GPU) is more crucial. But for day-to-day activity, the processor (CPU) is very important. There are many different processors out there for you to choose from, and they have different amounts of cores. Two of the most common types of processor are dual-core and-quad core.
But what does this even mean, and which one of them is going to be better for your needs? Well, let’s take a closer look at dual core processors and then at quad core processors, too.
Quad-core vs Dual-core Processor
The simple difference between a dual-core processor and a quad core processor is the amount of cores they have (dual = 2, quad = 4). The more cores that your laptop has, the more processes than it can run simultaneously.
This increases your laptops ability to multi-task, making a quad-core processor the better choice for most people. This is especially true moving forward from 2021, as programs become more and more demanding on our devices.
If you’re only looking to complete a single task at a time, then you likely won’t need more than a dual core laptop. For casual internet users, it may not actually be a necessity to have a lot of cores, as you may only be using your web browser and not much else.
But you can really see the difference in having multiple cores when you start to do intensive tasks on your laptop, especially if you’re trying to complete more than 1 at the same time. That means that any high end 17 inch laptop is going to come with at least 4 cores.
In many modern premium laptops, you can have as many as 6, 8, or even 10 cores in your processor. But how does this benefit the laptop, and what exactly are cores? Well, let’s look at them in a little closer detail.
What are cores?
Although more cores always sounds better, in some cases, there is no need to have more cores in your processor. The amount of cores is essentially the amount of different processes that the device can run at the same time.
So, a dual-core processor can run two processes at the same time, and a quad-core processor can run four processes at the same time – and so on and so forth.
At the moment, the maximum amount of cores you get in a CPU is 128, though this isn’t for standard consumer use. The most cores in an Intel Core i9 processor is currently 18, but even this is overkill for most people.
With the newer processors having 8 or even 10 cores, it might seem like it’s a necessity to have a more powerful core processor. But, this isn’t the case in the majority of scenarios. For example, games like Minecraft will typically only ever use three cores, so there is no need for a processor that has eight cores.
Most i7 processors have a minimum of four cores, and anywhere up to 8 cores in the more recent models. This is why I recommend them as good options for most people looking for a new laptop that’s going to last 5 years or more.
What other ways can I measure a processor?
Another way that you can identify whether a processor is the right choice for you is by looking at its clock speed. One thing that people often get confused about is the GHz measurement of a processor. This is something to consider in your processor, but it isn’t the only thing that you should take into account.
This number simply refers to the amount of times the internal clock ticks per second. So for example, a 1.3 Ghz processor will tick 1.3 billion times per second, and a 1.9GHz processor will tick 1.9 billion times per second.
If in other measurements these processors were identical, then the 1.9GHz processor would outperform the 1.3GHz processor. However, there are more variables that we measure a processor with.
Processor Threads in Relation to Cores
Another aspect of processors that’s more closely related to the amount of cores that your laptop has is its threads. In a typical processor, for every one core that your laptop has, it will have two threads. Sometimes this isn’t the case, and each core is only matched by one thread.
The threads of the CPU aren’t the ones that actually do the work – no, that’s for the rest of the processor to do that. However, the threads are actually what dictate the tasks that your processor can take on at the same time.
The cores are what actually does the work, but the amount of threads is essentially its capacity to do this work.
To your computer, even if you only have two cores, if you have four threads, then it can appear to the operating system as four cores. This allows the cores to share the responsible of the work to do equally, and it can help to increase the speed of your laptop.
Single core processors have essentially been made obsolete over the past decade, with multi core processors now being the preferred choice. Dual-core vs quad-core is one thing, but then we can also consider looking at those with more than this, like hexa-core or octa-core processors too.
The amount of cores you’re going to want to go for is going to be directly related to the tasks you’ll be undertaking on your laptop. If you plan on using many different programs at the same time, then it could be a good idea to opt for a processor with a higher core count.
It’ll be able to load things faster, as it can cope with things a lot easier than a lower core processor. The thing is that dual core processors tend to use a lot less power, which is one of the main reasons why they’re still popular today after being released all the way back in 2015.
However, who knows how long this will be for, with quad-core processors becoming the standard for many premium laptops now. There are various softwares that will happily use more cores if you have them.
Obviously, gaming can take up a huge amount of processing power, but there’s various other editing softwares (like the Adobe suite) that will benefit from more cores too. Science software Matlab is another example that can use a lot of cores when speeding up calculations.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to purchase a new laptop then opting for a quad core processor is going to be a wise choice. However, nowadays there are more and more cores being put into our processors, and the likelihood is that in the future, both dual and quad-core processors will become less popular in premium range laptops.
You can consider looking at 6 or more cores if you have to complete heavy tasks, like gaming or online software editing. But bear in mind that though they will provide better performance, they will be less energy efficient.