When I was picking parts for my new computer, I had to decide among many options of what processor I was going to get. On the one hand, I could buy a cheaper Intel Core 2 Duo processor, which only had 2 cores, or the newer Intel Core 2 Quad and i7 processors, which had 4 cores. Most computers produced by companies today have at least a Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor installed, and some even have an i7. I opted not to buy the i7's because they were very new and expensive at the time. I also decided against the Core 2 Duo processors because they were slowly being replaced by the Core 2 Quads, and I did not want to buy one and then upgrade a short time later. I decided to get the cheapest Core 2 Quad, the q6600 from Amazon.com for $179.99 in November 2008.
I initially believed that the higher the gigahertz (ghz) of a CPU, the better it was; this does not seem to be true any longer in the age of multiple cores. The Pentium D 820 Processor of my previous computer, for example, was 2.8 ghz, whereas the q6600 was labeled as being only 2.4 ghz. I learned that the difference in speed between the two was negligible since the q6600 had 4 cores working and sharing the load of the computer.
I can definitely multitask better with the q6600 than with the 820. I stated in an earlier review about my work with Photoshop CS3, and the q6600 is much better at handling that program than the 820 is. With the 820, the program takes much longer to load up and use, but with the q6600, none of these problems exist. In addition, I can watch videos, type word documents, listen to music, etc at the same time without any performance drop in any of my activities.
There are one or two things to consider though. The stock fan that comes with the q6600 may not be adequate for gamers. For the experienced user or gamer, I would recommend an aftermarket cooler that does a better job of keeping the temperature of the processor lower than the stock fan. The q6600 is known to be the processor that runs the hottest out of all the other Core 2 Quad processors; this means a shorter lifespan for the product. When I first got the q6600 and installed the processor, the temperatures of the 4 cores at idle were in the low to mid 30s Celsius. When I was playing a game like Left 4 Dead (2008), they would go up to high 30s or low 40s sometimes.
When I turn on the computer now, they sometimes idle at mid to high 30s, which is not as good. When I am playing Left 4 Dead, the numbers can go up to low 50s. Several factors, such as the cleanliness of the fan and the age of the thermal paste (a substance that is applied between the processor cage and the fan to lower temperatures), apply here to explain the rising temperatures. The fan needs constant cleaning, and paste must be reapplied every few months or so. Some people may not be willing to do this (you do not have to apply thermal paste when installing the stock fan for the first time though because there is a thermal strip on the back of the fan already).
I am satisfied with my purchase, but I would recommend that others buy something from the q9000 series of the Core 2 Quad line, which do not run as hot. If you have a lot of money, you might want to consider buying an i7 processor and not worry about getting a better one for a long time. Also, the q6600 will probably not be as available in the future since most people will have moved past the q6000 and q8000 lines to faster ones. The prices are dropping for the other advanced processors, so choose wisely.