Our readers often ask: how many computational cores should a contemporary processor have? Unfortunately, we can’t give you one exact answer to this question because the need for a certain number of processor cores is very dependent on the type of tasks each user works with most of the time. Our tests show that quad-core processors are extremely efficient during rendering and video encoding, but most games, office applications or even graphics editing tasks can’t really load all four cores simultaneously. Moreover, there are quite a few applications, which do not split the load into any parallel threads at all. Among them are some sound codecs, several games, Internet browsers and even Adobe Flash Player: they all use only one computational core. Therefore, it may be not a trivial task to find the most optimal processor for your particular usage model, especially taking into account that currently there are solutions with different number of cores within the mainstream price range – one, two and four.
Nevertheless, the most universal choice today would be a dual-core processor. Almost any computer system will be able to load two computational cores with work: even if the active application uses only single-thread algorithms, the second free core will come in handy for the needs of the operating system that will be able to react faster to user actions this way. The statistics is also in favor of dual-core CPUs: almost half of all computer systems today are equipped with dual-core processors. And even though the price drops on CPUs with more computational cores have been forcing the share of these computer systems to get smaller lately, the number of dual-core bases systems is still almost twice as big as the number of quad-core ones out there.
In other words, it is the dual-core CPUs that remain of primary interest to computer users these days. Speaking of the specific product lineups from the leading makers, we have to admit that Intel dual-core processors may seem more attractive. The microprocessor giant is currently offering a considerably larger variety of dual-core solutions in three different price segments: Celeron, Pentium and Core 2 Duo. AMD can only respond with two families: Sempron and Athlon X2 that cannot compete with Core 2 Duo from the consumer functionality standpoint.
So, it makes sense to consider alternative dual-core solutions only in the sub-$80 price range. These particular inexpensive dual-core Athlon X2 and Pentium processors will be most demanded by a pretty significant group of users assembling inexpensive systems priced at $500 maximum. Our today’s review is going to target these users as it is going to talk about the competition between AMD Athlon X2 and Intel Pentium CPU families.