Core Count Vs GHz: Which Is More Important

The battle between clock speed and core count can be a confusing one.

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When it comes to computer CPU performance, it can be hard to figure out what actually makes your experience “faster.” For years, we have seen a cycle of progression that rotated between higher clock speeds, and then more cores, and then back to clock speeds. And again, over the last few years, we have seen the core-count wars reignited with AMD’s Ryzen and Threadripper processors forcing Intel to hastily launch high-core CPUs to counter with.

Obviously this means that higher core counts are the be-all to making your PC perform better. After all, even we went and put an eight-core CPU into our ZR1 benchmark PC. But like so many things in the world, the answer for what makes your computer faster is “it depends.”


It’s All About Workload And Optimization

Let’s start with taking a new look at how your CPU works. Imagine your CPU is like a highway. The speed limit on that highway would be your clockspeed, and the number of lanes would be your  core count. If you are using a program that makes use of nothing but quick and simple commands, like a word processor, it is only sending one car at a time down this highway. So if you just have one car on the road, it doesn’t matter how many lanes there are, you want the fastest speed limit you can possibly get.

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The same goes the other direction. If you have a program that can handle thousands and thousands of tasks at one time, like a complex spreadsheet, you want to get as many cars moving down that highway as you can, so suddenly more lanes on that highway becomes very important. As high-core CPUs become ever more popular, there will be more programs created to make use of those “extra highway lanes,” but currently, there are plenty of programs that just don’t. So the “faster” processor really depends on what you want to do at any given time.

So how do you decide which CPU is right for you?

What do you think?

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