Would I have been better off with a single or dual core rather than quad?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by J.P., Mar 30, 2010.

  1. J.P.


    I've been leaving Task Manager open and I see that most tasks run on only one core while maxing it out at 25% while the other three cores are almost idle. This includes long waits while opening or saving large spreadsheets and copying large datasets from the Web. Where I thought the hard drive or the Web was the bottleneck, it was actually the CPU! Rather than take a ~75% hit on processor speed for most tasks, I'm thinking of going back to a dual core or even a single core. Wouldn't that be faster? (Although Excel recalculations, for example, use all four cores and are quite fast.) Except for specialized situations, wouldn't I (and most) be better off with only one or two cores? What am I missing here?
  2. What's your OS?
  3. cloudcel.com may be a viable option for running big excel processes.
    See if you can break up your process to run in separate excel instances to take advantage of your quad core.
    If you use dde try using vba setlinkondata (Excel by default updates links 100ms, setlinkondata forces immediate updates).

  4. J.P.


    64-bit Windows 7 with eight GB RAM
  5. J.P.


    Thanks, Pocket, for the info on Excel and cloudcel; I'll look into that. But it's not just Excel as just about everything seems to run at only 25% of potential speed with unnecessarily long waits for most of the tasks I perform where I have to wait for completion. So I should have looked into this more as I assumed the latest processor would be the fastest for me when an older CPU with fewer cores would have been much better. Anyway, if I buy another machine I should apparently try to stick to the fastest processors I can get but with only one or two cores max; in other words, an older CPU, not the latest. Again, do I have this right?
  6. I don't think you have it right... Your perception of "[only] 25% of potential speed"... and "unnecessarily long waits for most tasks".... nothing like that should be attributable to the CPU. Usually when a system is taking a long time to do something, it's struggling with a software problem. Though I don't have any specific answers for you, I'd look to software first.

    The best performance improvement has been from one core => dual core. The quads perform a little better at the same clock speed as a C2D.

    You can either try to find your software bogie [could take hours and hours and you still may not find it], or use a backup hard drive to do a fresh install of the OS and drivers. Then before loading "miscellaneous programs", load and run the programs you perceive to be slow and see if your problem disappears.

    Usually when you have a hardware problem, something doesn't work at all... it's not just "slow".
  7. J.P.


    Thanks, EllisWyatt for sending a PM suggesting I look at the i7 chip. But to the best of my knowledge it too has four cores and would also be utilizing only 25% of its capacity most of the time. Regarding the possibility of the delay being the HHD or the Internet, I used to think that but after studying Task Manager I know it's not--and that's why I posted. If your CPU is at its max, then that is what you are waiting for. Also, see below. But thanks again for your input.
  8. You have now said contradictory things... before you were concerned about "~75% hit" on CPU usage.. "and now you're concerned about using ONLY 25% of capacity because only one core is doing all the work while the other 3 sit idle....

    Just because you have 4 cores, does NOT mean that you will EVER use them all simultaneously. Mostly, you will use ONE core. If you have 2 "cpu intensive apps" running at once, you may see 2 cores being significantly utilized. To use all of your 4 cores, you will need to be using "multi-threaded applications" designed to utilize all cores... there isn't much of that software around yet.
  9. J.P.


    I don't understand. One example: when I load a 1GB spreadsheet in Excel 2007, Task Manager shows Excel maxed out at 25%, with almost 75% idle, while I wait for it to load. (And I didn't mean that I had to wait for most tasks as you quoted; I meant that for only those tasks for which I need to wait for completion, the CPU for that task maxes out at 25% rather than almost 100%.) I'll try to explain better in the next post. And thank you very much for your post.
  10. I'm not sure of your semantics.. Does "being 25% maxed out".. mean to you that one of your 4 cores is working hard and the other 3 are not... that is, under Task Manager/Processes, Excel is running 25% CPU usage? If that's the case, "that's how it works" if the app is single threaded.
    #10     Mar 31, 2010