I have a new computer (about 9 months old), and opted for a quad core Q6600 and 4 gig of ram. Everything really hums along fine. At times, I have seen 250% or more core usage. (Adding up the percentages that each core shows it is using). I have vista, and there is gadget that allows you to monitor this function. The advantage of a quad core is that things can be going on in the background, and you can still easily use your computer for other function. The Quad core is evidently in the desktop and I also have a Laptop with a core duo (2 cores). For the future, getting a quad core or greater processor will make sure that your computer is easy to use and is not slowed down by background software using the processor. I have AVG anti virus, Diskeeper 2008, and several other programs that work in the background along with Microsoft's own "housekeeping", and quad core allows all this to go on without missing a beat. Since 4 gig of ram is not too expensive today, that should be the minimum to keep a smooth running computer. I enjoy using my new desktop more than any other computer that I have ever had, and that goes back to 1984. Additionally, I am using 1676 meg of my available memory, so there is always plenty in reserve. Not much swap file activity with that much ram.
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