@ces: 161$ for the i3 540 and 135$ for the i3 530.
so if i understand, right now quad-cores are more for extreme multi-taskings, and also, they can make dual-cores which could be as good as its quad-core counterpart?
Well..... sort of.
Here is my understanding, anyone is more than welcome to correct any errors.
Software Written to take advantage of concurrent operation on multiple Cores.
With all but a handful of software that no one hardly uses, most software can use only one core at a time. I saw a list of software that makes use of multiple cpus. I didn't recognize most of them, A number of them seemed to be audio visual encoding types of software. So I guess a fair number of people here may use them.
So anything I say doesn't apply to that kind of software. I think the internet browsers are making noises about taking advantage of multi-cpu programming. But it isn't easy to do. And for most sosftware no compelling need to do it. Google's chrome brower does it, sort of. Each instance of it runs as a separate program. So if you have multiple instances of it running, they will be distributed over the cores - but that is sort of a cheat - and most applications can't get away with that.
All things equal, a dual core will run cooler then 4 cores. If you run cooler, you have a better chance to overclock it higher.
Most gamers prefer overclocked dual core chips. The only thing that counst when running a game is to have a fast core. Almost all games run only on one core at a time. If you have two fast cores that is better than a slightly lower clock rate with 4 cores.
The extra core is to run whatever extra software needs to be run while gaming.
Anything more serves no purpose.
Multiple cores are good if you have a lot of applications running and you don't want them sucking cpu cycles away from each other.
Some day, maybe in five years, maybe longer, when many applications can distribute their processing over multiple cores, the number of cores you have will = the amount of horsepower you can bring to bear on a particular application. Until then, the gating factor is the speed of your individual cores.
The i3 cpus have multi-threading. What this means is that they can take otherwise wasted cpu cycles, at a very granular level, and knit them together to create virtual cores. These aren't as gppd as real cores - but I would submit that two of these virtual cores is equal to a third real core.
The Key Gating Factor
The key gating factor that affects what feels like speed to you, is the speed of the individual cores. As your CPU gets loaded up with multiple tasks, then the number of cores becomes important.
I would submit that in every day use, unless you are running at over 60% CPU utilization, extra cores are not relevant to your computer's performance. And if you have a program hogging a single CPU, the only factor that counts is the speed of that core.
The Clarkdale CPU's overclock at east as fast as the fastest other Intel CPUs. In fact it appears they are the fastest overclockers of all of Intel's CPUs.
Unless you are doing encoding and other multi-core applications, the Clarkdales are likely all that you need, and the extra cores will not give you extra speed, just the ability to haul heavier loads - Loads that it doesn't appear that you are hauling.
And in fact the overclocked clarkdales can haul just as heavy of a load as a stock clocked Q9550 quad core (which by no measure can be considered a slouch).
For How Long
I say it will take at least 5 years before any of the above changes. The above will change as software is developed that takes advantage of multiple cores comes online, I wouldn't hold my breath though. Coding for multiple cores costs time, money and training. For most applications, especially and more and more multi-core horse power becomes available, there is no economic incentive for most software applications to do so.
Even Microsoft Office. The only application in their programmed for multiple cores is Excel, and even there it is the number crunching algorithms, not the whole application.