For those of you with a dual-core CPU, in most games it offers "enough" performance (at least in terms of core count), although it's clear that won't last much longer. While some developers are sticking with engines that aren't multi-threaded, if there's one thing clear from our testing it is that games are starting to make better use of more cores. At the moment, three cores appears to be what games are happiest using (aside from Dirt 2).

That's not to say that everyone should go out and buy an AMD triple-core though - obviously clock speed and instructions per clock are important, and as we've said often enough in our buyer's guides, in terms of performance, Intel's CPUs dominate.

How many CPU cores do games need? Conclusion
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Four CPU cores appears to be plenty, and it's upgrade and multi-task proof. If you do leave your torrent client MSN on or music playing in the background, for example, then the game will still have enough spare resources not to chug.

One important conclusion to take away though is that you don't need a 6-core CPU. They do nothing for your games, so unless you already find a quad-core slow in other applications or your day-to-day PC use, don't upgrade for this reason.

How many CPU cores do games need? Conclusion
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The conclusion for gamers is that if you already own a dual-core CPU then its likely to still be fine - if your games are slow, your graphics card is much more likely to be the culprit. However, when upgrading, it's clear the direction games are going towards, and a CPU with three or more cores is what you need to cover your bases for the future.
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