When you plan to purchase a new laptop, one of the most important components is the processor.
When you’re looking at the manufacturer's specifications, it can be difficult to know which processor is best for your needs.
If you’re not a computer expert, some of the figures and numbers quoted by laptop manufacturers can be baffling. The main points to consider when choosing a processor are speed, price, and build quality.
To determine whether you should choose quad-core or dual-core, we’ll look at the key features of both to see how they differ.
A quad-core processor is a chip inside your computer that has four separate cores.
Each core works with circuits in the machine such as ports, cache, and memory management.
The two big names in processors are Intel and AMD, and they both manufacture a range of quad-core processors. These brands are trusted by consumers, and you’ll see Intel or AMD processors fitted in the majority of business and home laptops.
Quad-core processors are usually fitted to higher-end laptops rather than budget notebooks and Chromebooks. This is due to the budget laptops not needing high performance or the speed that the more expensive machines require.
There are not a lot of components inside a quad-core processor and very little can go wrong with them.
As well as the four cores, there are small pins that connect a circuit board and the processor housing.
Inside the processor, four silicon cores are derived from sand and these cores are wafer-thin. The cores are coated with a blue solution before being exposed to UV light and etched to form a type of circuit. There is also a tiny transistor inside the processor, which acts as a switch to turn it on and off.
A quad-core processor uses more power than a dual-core chip, and your laptop battery supplies this power. When you’re running a quad-core chip, your overall battery life will be lower than if your machine was fitted with a dual-core processor.
Quad-core processors are designed to be compact, fast, and easy to change when upgrades are needed. Processors are usually square and made from materials that repel heat to keep the cores cool.
Quad-core processors tend to generate more heat than dual-core chips, as each core emits its own heat. When quad-core processors are fitted, you’ll usually have better cooling fans in the laptop.
A processor doesn’t have to be aesthetically pleasing, as most laptop users will never see the chip. The chip designers constantly update processors to make them faster and to meet the challenges of modern computing.
Because there are more cores, a quad-core processor will usually be more expensive than a dual-core processor. You’ll find that most budget laptops are not fitted with quad-core processors, to keep the prices down.
There are some exceptions, and a dual-core processor with a higher clock speed may be more expensive than a quad-core processor. Some manufacturers make custom chips, and these are often costly.
Both Intel and AMD update their quad-core processors regularly and you’ll see this when you’re looking at specs. Many of the latest processors can now be turbo-boosted to get a higher clock speed.
Manufacturers are also now looking at combining the CPU with the graphics processor in a single chip. This innovation will save a little space, and in time the costs of these all-in-one chips will drop and they’ll be fitted to more machines.
Why They Stand Out
In the majority of cases, a laptop that’s fitted with a quad-core processor will be faster than one with a dual-core chip. Task management will be swift and efficient, and you’ll be able to perform more tasks at the same time.
The general rule is that more cores equal more speed for general computing tasks; so buying a laptop with a quad-core processor is beneficial.
An important thing to bear in mind is that it’s not necessarily how many cores you have, but what software you’re running. For example, Google Chrome automatically tells different cores to run different tasks and a quad-core chip will not give a performance boost.
What Other People Say
When laptoping.com reviewed the 8th generation Intel quad-core i5-8250U processor, they were impressed with its speed. The processor handles 4k video smoothly, and streaming videos only use five percent of the power.
The reviewer was impressed with how cool the laptop was during the tests with a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The same website also reviewed the AMD A8-7410 quad-core processor and praised its smooth performance. The reviewer was impressed with the low cost of the processor compared to some of its rivals. They also liked the fact that the A8-7410 has an integrated Radeon R5 graphics processor.
Notebookcheck.net looked at the Intel Pentium N3710 quad-core processor, which is designed for entry-level laptops. They said that the base speed of the processor is suitable for everyday computing tasks. They liked the fact that the processor didn’t use too much power and it stays reasonably cool.
A dual-core processor looks the same as a quad-core chip but it only has 2 cores.
These processors are more common than quad-core processors at the moment, because of their lower price.
As with quad-core processors, Intel and AMD are the most common chips fitted to laptop computers. Many laptops at the cheaper end of the price scale will be equipped with a dual-core processor.
Dual-core processors still have their place, and it doesn’t mean your laptop is inferior because it doesn’t have a quad-core chip. Many laptop users are quite happy working with dual-core processors for everyday computing tasks.
Dual-core processors are similar in design and construction to quad-core chips, apart from having half the number of cores. The casing and pins are similar, and they’re fitted to the laptop in the same way.
Dual-core processors have the same wafer-thin layers of silicon that quad-core chips have, which are specially treated to turn them into a processor.
As with all processors, a dual-core is not meant to be seen and they look basic and functional. A heat-resistant housing holds the two cores, and the copper pins are at the base, which connects to the laptop.
Dual-core chips run cooler than quad-core and your laptop will not have to work so hard to stay cool. Your machine will still have a cooling fan, but it probably won’t kick in so often when you’re using dual-core processors.
These two core chips require less power than a quad-core processor, and your laptop battery should last longer than it would with a quad-core chip.
Dual-core processors are generally cheaper than quad-core, and this is one of the reasons they’re fitted to budget laptops. Laptop manufacturers can keep the price of a machine low if it’s not fitted with the latest quad-core processor.
Cheap does not always mean lower quality, and the Intel and AMD dual-core processors have a good track record for outstanding performance. You may not need the extra two cores. If you don’t need them, then money can be saved when buying a laptop.
Both Intel and AMD continue to develop and upgrade their dual-core processors, and they will need to for the foreseeable future. Since there are so many of these chips being used, they need to be upgraded from time to time.
As quad-core becomes the norm, it may be the case that dual-core processors will fade away and no longer be used. However, because there is still a demand for budget laptops, this is probably some years away from happening.
Why They Stand Out
Dual-core processors have been around for a while and they continue to perform well when fitted to laptops. Most users have no issues with a dual-core chip, reporting that performance and clock speeds are good.
A decent dual-core chip will handle most tasks with speed and efficiency, and the laptop will run smoothly.
One of the main things that make dual-core processors stand out is price, which is important to most consumers. A laptop is a costly piece of kit, and if money can be saved when buying one, it’s always beneficial.
What Other People Say
Notebookreview.com reviewed the AMD A-series dual-core processors and was impressed with the clock speeds. They said the processors were fast and superior to their Intel equivalents. The reviewer also said the battery life on the test laptop was not affected—even when the clock speed had been boosted.
Notebookcheck.net reviewed the Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor and was impressed with its speed and performance. Power consumption was low and the chip didn’t get excessively hot. The reviewer praised the low cost of the processor and said it’s ideal for budget machines.
Laptoping.com tested out the AMD E2-9000e dual-core processor, which is fitted to some budget laptops. The processor was efficient when tested and capable of handling multiple tasks at once. The reviewer liked the fact that the processor is battery-friendly with low power consumption.
What Are the Main Differences Between Quad-Core and Dual-Core?
There are several differences between quad-core and dual-core processors, and you need to choose carefully. One of the main factors is speed, and if you want a faster machine then quad-core is the way to go.
A quad-core processor will handle more tasks than a dual-core in the majority of cases.
Many business machines will need to perform several tasks at the same time and a quad-core processor will handle this better.
Cost is important to many consumers, and there are significant price differences between some of the processors. The latest quad-core processors from both Intel and AMD are more expensive than dual-core alternatives.
Power consumption may also be important if you use your laptop on the move and you need a portable machine. If you regularly use your laptop when you’re away from home, you’ll want the battery to last as long as possible.
When to Choose Quad-Core
If you run a lot of tasks on your laptop at the same time, you should consider using a machine with a quad-core processor.
Photo editing, graphic design, and gaming are all handled much more efficiently if the processor has more cores.
If you have to switch between tasks regularly, it’s also better to use a machine with a quad-core processor. Each core will take care of its own task until it’s complete, which makes the laptop run smoothly.
If you use graphic design software or 3D modeling software, it’s preferable to use a laptop that’s equipped with a quad-core processor. Some of this software is complex and will require faster speeds.
If you’re a gamer, you should also consider a quad-core processor so that your games run smoothly without glitches. A high-speed processor combined with enough RAM will ensure that your gaming experience is better.
When to Choose Dual-Core
If you use your laptop for everyday tasks such as web browsing, checking your email, or listening to music, then a dual-core processor is adequate.
Many simple tasks don’t need the speed or power provided by a quad-core chip.
Dual-core processors are also going to make your laptop more portable, and your battery will last longer.
If you’re on a tight budget you should consider a laptop with a dual-core processor. You’ll save a significant amount of money by not paying for the extra 2 cores which you may not even need.
Now you have some information about both types of processors, you should be better informed to make the correct decision for you and your needs.
Before you choose between quad-core and dual-core, you'll need to calculate your budget and think about what you need your laptop to do. If it’s the speed you’re after, a quad-core processor is likely to be your best choice.For normal daily tasks, save money and opt for a dual-core processor, which will be sufficient for your needs. When you’ve done your research, you should be ready to buy a laptop with a processor that’s right for you.