Pretty much any processor you can buy today has multiple cores. Two cores seems to be the defacto standard, however you can get up to 4 cores without breaking the bank, but do you see a worthwhile gain from these additional cores? This article titled “How Many CPU Cores Do You Need?” addresses this very question.
Jumping to the results of the benchmark tests which were run, you can see there is an across the board “real-world” increase when going from one core to two with each additional core offering some benefit. [Note “real-world” in quotes because benchmarks are merely a guesstimation.] Games benefited from the addition of a second core only and applications show respectable gains as each additional core was added. I am ignoring the synthetic results as they are pie in the sky numbers. One thing to keep in mind when looking at the results is multicore CPU’s are just now becoming true commonplace and many applications have some catching up to do in order to take advantage of this.
These are interesting numbers to keep in mind if you are in the market. Personally at this point, I would stick with a two core (unless you are a crazy multi-tasker) as most users probably do not utilize their computers in a way that four cores would be beneficial. On top this, a two core will give you the most bang for the buck as the price points go up exponentially when more cores are added.
What are you takes on this?