Poll: How many CPU cores will your next PC have?

With quad-core processors available for less than $200 and six- and eight-core CPUs on the way next year, the core race is well in progress. But just because you can get four cores in a single CPU doesn’t mean you actually need all of them—and sometimes, a greater number of lower-clocked cores can translate into poorer performance.

In our latest poll, we’re asking you a simple question: how many CPU cores will there be in your next PC? Do you regularly run highly parallel apps that need as many cores as they can get, or would you get by just fine with a single-core Atom CPU? Feel free to cast your vote either below or on our front page.

Our previous poll topic was, “Do you play games on your PC?” Judging by the response, PC gaming is nowhere near dead among our readers: 88.3% of them voted yes, while 7.7% voted no, and 4% have more than enough fun compiling perfectly formatted spreadsheets in Excel. For the record, that poll question covered both “serious” games like Crysis and more casual titles, including Flash games.

Comments closed
    • TheSpatulaCity
    • 11 years ago

    Well my next PC will have 4 cores because I plan on reserving one core to feed Windows and all its resource hogging processes. I’ll have another core to keep all the poorly written spyware/adware busy and then I’ll have one core to actually run the programs I want. The 4th core will act as a hot spare in case one of my cores breaks down or the next version of windows becomes even more excessively core hungry.

      • elpresidente
      • 11 years ago

      Good luck.

    • demani
    • 11 years ago

    Well, since I already have 8 now it probably won’t be until 16 is out…and it makes sense to. Heaven help those programmers…

      • data8504
      • 11 years ago

      How’s your 401(k) doing? Contribute much?

    • packfan_dave
    • 11 years ago

    Probably 4, assuming I can get my C2D laptop back to working reliably as my main PC until around when I planned to replace it (late 2009). I think quads will be in upper-midrange notebooks by then.

    If I end up getting something new this year it’ll be a cheap dual-core to tide me over until mainstream notebook Nehalem.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    It’s hard to call my PC ‘next’ since it’s usually a change of just one or two parts at a time. I’ll take next to mean a platform change, as in mobo+CPU with a new socket.

    • Hattig
    • 11 years ago

    I’m ignoring the plethora of embedded CPUs within other parts of the PC chipset! 😉

    On the other hand, I’m not going to be buying a new PC for a couple of years so I’m sure quad-core will be cheaptastic by then yet good enough.

    • matic
    • 11 years ago

    Do virtual machines really use any of the extensions Intel and AMD cared to develop or those are only there to fill a line in the features list and MHz and numer of cores are what to look for? Thx

    • slot_one
    • 11 years ago

    My next PC will have…

    *holds pinky near mouth*

    One Million Cores.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      This is 2008, One Million Cores isn’t really a lot of cores.

        • slot_one
        • 11 years ago

        OK then. My next PC will have…

        One Hundred BILLION cores!!!

          • eitje
          • 11 years ago

          nicely done, gentlemen.

    • MarioJP
    • 11 years ago

    Well this article is referring to PC’s in general and not just gaming. I for one have a quad core and i am already using 3 cores for virtualization. Pretty soon i will be needing a 8 core cpu that does 16 threads and maybe with 16gb or 32gb of ram. The way i use these virtual machines requires alot of muscle. You guys are treating pc’s like if its just made for games. Yes it can truly play games and then some more. Think outside of gaming for once.

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    i build low-power systems. Everything MUST be under 100W at load.

    So, I have two Shuttle SD11G5s running 1.76GHz Pentium-M Dothans (55W & 60W), a Shuttle SB75S with an undervolted 2.66 GHz P4-M (80W), a recently-built system with a 35W Core Celeron (90W).

    I also have some old Motion tablet PCs (40W) and some VIA boards (50W with video cards in the PCI slots), but those don’t get used much.

    Point being: I’m one of the people that will probably keep buying single core as long as that’s the most power-efficient option available. And while I know that AMD has some dual-core EEs that run @ 45W, that’s quite a lot when I’m budgeting myself to <100W @ load.

    • odizzido
    • 11 years ago

    I picked 8 because by the time I get a new processor 8 cores will probably be the norm.

      • blerb
      • 11 years ago

      Well, I believe the 8 core option is referring to the Core 2 Extreme QX9775 Skulltrail LGA771 Dual CPU.

    • TechNut
    • 11 years ago

    I’ve pretty much settled that any new CPU’s I buy will be Quad core. I tend to buy systems for home that do R&D type tasks, like hosting many different servers for virutalization, etc. Since I tend to hold onto systems for my home lab for a few years (it’s about 3-5 years between wholesale rip & replace time) quad cores make sense for the long-term. In 3-5 years a 4 core machine will still run applications just fine, surely better than a 2 or 1 CPU machine.

    I figure you just get more life out of more cores. Same idea as in the enterprise, more CPUs you have, should equal longer system life or at least the ability to be more easily repurposed.

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    Anybody else more excited about disk/memory I/O improvements over graphics/CPUg{

      • eitje
      • 11 years ago

      me!

        • HiggsBoson
        • 11 years ago

        mee too!

    • SonicSilicon
    • 11 years ago

    I’m currently eying a UMPC, but am waiting to see what, if any, impact Atom has on the market. At the least, prices should drop some with the current generation when the new generation arrives. It’s a one-core market and unlikely to change any time soon.

    • Jambe
    • 11 years ago

    Four or more. As others have said, by the time I upgrade quads will be a baseline, more or less. So four at minimum, 6 or more if there’s an attractive option in that range.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 11 years ago

    Since I hope to get 2-3 more years from my current X2 3800, I’m betting on 4 or 8 cores in my next build, just because by then 4 core (at least) will be mainstream and well within the price point, and hopefully it’ll be utilized by Windows 7 and games by then.

    • TSchniede
    • 11 years ago

    I recently acquired a Q9300, so the next PC is still some years away. I do a lot of media encoding which works quite well with 4 cores, but definitely worse than it was with 2 and in most cases the harddisk starts to be the limiting factor or the uneven thread load distribution, so I guess 4 or 8 will be a good estimate. I will still vote for 4, as for 8 there are several other software related boundaries which must be removed until then.

    • 2_tyma
    • 11 years ago

    i got two now (e6600)
    will most likely get an octocore(8) but if high end quad cores can be had for >150 in a year ill jus get that

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    I want one of those Expensive Edition Nehalems with 8 cores and 16 threads. I’m routinely slapping down all four of my Yorkfield cores with load, so I could parallelize out nicely.

    Video encoding and Virtualization, friends to multicore.

    • MixedPower
    • 11 years ago

    Is this physical or logical cores? I plan on building again about a year from now or so, and assuming I use a Nehalem CPU (which seems likely ATM), it will be four of the former and eight of the latter.

      • ChronoReverse
      • 11 years ago

      ++

      I’m thinking the exact same thing.

    • matic
    • 11 years ago

    It will depend on how much those cores will be priced and on how much wattage they will need to dissipate. And how much time will last on the market AMD… For my needs my X2 3600+ seems plenty enough.

    • henfactor
    • 11 years ago

    I want a 10 GHz+ single core!!! What’s going on with Moore’s law?

      • Anomymous Gerbil
      • 11 years ago

      I think you need to read up on what Moore’s “Law” actually states.

        • henfactor
        • 11 years ago

        Alright, you got me there. Wikipedia: *[

    • blastdoor
    • 11 years ago

    This one is impossible for me to answer. I see no reason to upgrade either my MBP or my desktop PC until 2010. Both of my current systems are Core 2 Duo.

    by the time I upgrade, I will do one of the following:

    (1) get a new MBP and upgrade the CPU in my home-built PC. In that case, I’ll probably get a quad core in each.

    (2) get a mac pro and a macbook air. In that case, I’ll probably get 16 or more cores in the mac pro and 2 cores in the macbook air.

    which path I take depends entirely on the quality of windows games run under VMWare and/or Parallels. Right now, neither of those really allows for playing of Windows games in virtualization. If that changes, then I’ll go with route (2). If it doesn’t, I’ll go with route (1).

      • rhema83
      • 11 years ago

      Similar situation here. I bought a Lenovo X61 last November with a 2.0GHz 65nm Core 2 Duo. It served its purpose very well, doing molecular simulations in Fortran and Matlab, and some light 3D AutoCAD work. There was neither the need nor the option to go quad on an ultraportable. I spent the money on 4GB or RAM and a 200GB 7200rpm HDD instead.

      Fast forward to June 2008, I am building a gaming rig to hook up to my HDTV. Guess what, even when the Q9300 is hover at $270, I opt to go for the E8400 at $190. I don’t need 4 cores to play games or watch DVD movies. That extra money will go (actually, already went) to a 8800GT instead of a 9600GT, and I can keep the change for a couple cups of coffee when I build the rig.

      At this point, the average Joe user has no need for 4 cores. Spend the money elsewhere, especially on often-skimped-on components like a good monitor, good keyboard and good mouse!

    • b4b2
    • 11 years ago

    Don’t plan on upgrading anytime soon, but my NEXT machine should be a quad.

    • crabjokeman
    • 11 years ago

    I’m buying my next CPU right now (Athlon X2 5000 Black Edition, 2.6GHz w/ unlocked multiplier) – $72 shipped w/Newegg Promo Code: EMCAGBABF
    I have a nice cooler (Thermalright UE-120), so I hope to run it at 3.2GHz under load.

    2 cores is sufficient for what I do (home/office productivity, light C/C++ & Python development, Ubuntu64 8.04, occasional DVD, audio encoding/decoding)

      • wingless
      • 11 years ago

      I can’t wait for the SB750 motherboards to hit. I want to get an AM2+ system with a 5000+BE on standby to tide me over until the 45nm Phenoms arrive. For $72 thats a no brainer for me. I think I’ll buy one tonight.

    • swaaye
    • 11 years ago

    I’m more interested in building quiet, low-power PCs these days. I want the hardware to idle with low power usage. For gaming, which is definitely rather rare for me these days, I don’t mind if it spikes up a bunch. But I don’t want another rig that sits there and idles at ~175W like my 8800GTX + C2Q. That’s just ridiculous. That’s more than my full-size fridge/freezer uses, by the way.

    So I really consider dual cores the way to go right now. They are more power efficient in every way than a quad unless you peg the 4 cores continuously for some app. Dualies deliver the noticeable multitasking improvement over single core CPUs, so they do offer tangible benefits in every PC, unlike a quad. Maybe in the future CPUs will have much smarter power management.

      • ybf
      • 11 years ago

      Yorkfields idle at 4 watts.

      Your power supply is dissipating more than that through bleeders and regulators when you’re not loading it.

      It takes 10.4 days to add up to a kilowatt-hour at 4 Watts.

      You can run a Yorkie with a no-fan heatsink (though if it’s in an enclosure I’d recommend at least a couple of silent case fans).

        • swaaye
        • 11 years ago

        I have a Kentsfield Q6600 G0. Good to hear that they are getting cooler and cooler.

        The 8800GTX is mostly to blame for the power consumption at idle though. It consumes something like 70W idling, running 60C while drawing the XP desktop.

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 11 years ago

    Probably four, but only because I expect it to be totally mainstream by the time I build my next computer whenever. I don’t game a lot anymore and so I’m not too worried.

    • SpotTheCat
    • 11 years ago

    2 or 4. depends on the market in 2 years.

      • Kaleid
      • 11 years ago

      The same. As a gamer atm I don’t need more than 2.

        • d2brothe
        • 11 years ago

        Lol, 640 K aught to be enough for pretty much everybody right?…

          • Kaleid
          • 11 years ago

          ATM = At the moment… by the time quadcore or more will be required I might have stopped gaming all together and it’s unlikely that I’ll need quadcore for coding.
          My e6750 @ 3.6Ghz will last long.

            • d2brothe
            • 11 years ago

            Yea, missed ATM actually. As for coding, compiling large projects can be parallelized, where I work, a full build takes almost an hour, having a dual core reduced that close to 50%, a quad would help even more, so depends on what your building.

      • sigher
      • 11 years ago

      Since they are already testing 6 cores I would certainly assume it’s more than 4 in 2 years, you seem to go by some new moore’s law that states every ting will remain static the next 2 years.

        • packfan_dave
        • 11 years ago

        I think it’ll be a (relatively) long time before you see more than 4 cores in single-socket desktops; quad-core may be mainstream nearly as long as single-core was. More than 4 cores (especially with SMT ala Nehalem) are going to run up against Amdahl’s Law in almost all single-user workloads.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    Went from 2 to 8 for my latest upgrade. I think I’ll be holding off until 32 cores are addressable in the ~$3k range (16 is coming next year).

    • leor
    • 11 years ago

    i’m already on 8, so i have to assume 16?

    • marvelous
    • 11 years ago

    Either 4 or 8 at least until apps take advantage

    • IntelMole
    • 11 years ago

    I think that most people are either about to buy a new PC (4 cores) or have just got one and so can wait for more cores to turn up (8 cores)

      • flip-mode
      • 11 years ago

      So wait, your say that most people either just bought a PC or else they have had one for a while? Heh, I hope I’m not the only one that sees humor in that.

        • IntelMole
        • 11 years ago

        🙂 Perhaps I could have worded it a little better. Let me explain.

        Three months ago I bought a new laptop. As such I have no need for a new machine. But if I hadn’t and I was looking for one soonish, I’d try to wait a little while for a quad core laptop later this year.

        Right now, I can’t see myself needing a new laptop for three or four years. By which time, an 8 core chip will be available.

        That was kind of my point.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    I voted 4 on the wild speculation that Apple will have a quad-core Macbook by the year 2010.

    • Xenolith
    • 11 years ago

    My next PC will have an atom in it… so just one.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    I’m on an X2-3600 @ 2.5 GHz right now.

    Probably will get a cheap quad, but only because I encode video. If it weren’t for that there’d be no reason for more than two.

    As it is I can’t imagine it being one of AMD’s quads. The IPC isn’t there and the overclocking definitely isn’t there, the power consumption is lacking too.

    I’d be happy with a Q6600 or a Q9450 and overclock the snot out of it.

    But to

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    Whatever is best cost/value in March of 2009, my next planned upgradeg{<.<}g

    • Hdfisise
    • 11 years ago

    Probably 8 when I next have the time to upgrade. Probably like 2-3 years time….

    • boing
    • 11 years ago

    2 cores. I simply have no use for more. It’s only on very rare occasions I actually use both cores maxed out even now.

      • sigher
      • 11 years ago

      Sure you don’t max out cores 24/7, but at the times you need CPU power then it’s nice to have enough of it to not sit there waiting an hour while everything has ground to a near halt.
      I wonder if they even still sell 2 core CPU’s in 2 years actually, perhaps for mini-PC’s or portable devices?

        • d2brothe
        • 11 years ago

        Yea, I’m sure they’ll be selling dual cores in 2 years time, they’re still selling single core cpus today.

    • aleckermit
    • 11 years ago

    Well I have an overclocked Intel E8400 dual-core processor and it’s great, so I don’t see myself upgrading any time soon but when I do 4-8 core processors will probably be the norm.

    Games need to be more optimized for quad+ core CPU’s anyway…

    for example:

    1st core deals with AI

    2nd core deals with Physics

    etc…

    It’s all about Ghz and Cache these days…

      • Meadows
      • 11 years ago

      Cache, yes, but the GHz oomph meter has been stuck between 2 and 3 for years now. Instead, intel and AMD were going for cores first.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 11 years ago

    At this point, there is no point for most uses for more than 2 cores. Certainly for gaming. The money is better spent in other places.

    • continuum
    • 11 years ago

    At 4 now. Will probably have 4 in the next upgrade, which should be Q3 of this year.

    Would love to see 8 or more for my distributed computing ego, but the cost of dual-socket workstation boards and FB-DIMMs isn’t worth it. Cheaper to build another quad-core box. =P

    • herothezero
    • 11 years ago

    Probably four…I don’t know if I’ll be able to buy a dual-core CPU in three years’ time.

    • bthylafh
    • 11 years ago

    Depends. I might upgrade after Nehalem’s been out for a few months, or I might not, since we’re planning on starting a family.

    So it depends on when I can afford an upgrade. But unless games &c start getting massively more parallelizable, I don’t see that getting more than a dual-core will be useful.

    • Tumbleweed
    • 11 years ago

    Nehalem, party of 4…

      • srg86
      • 11 years ago

      Same here.

      • =assassin=
      • 11 years ago

      I’ll probably get a 4 core Nehalem too (8 threads), but I’ll be waiting until they’re a bit cheaper (probably around late 09′ is my next planned upgrade)

    • d2brothe
    • 11 years ago

    Ha…I got the results…8 and 4 are tied for the most, thats weird I thought. then I looked at the number of votes…only two :P…

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