The number of processor cores, or CPU cores, you have can be found under your computer’s system information.
Processor Cores Explained
Knowing how many processor cores you have is useless unless you know what it means. Let’s briefly go over what they are.
Today’s processors have multiple cores. A core is a part of the CPU itself and is involved in executing tasks on your computer. A PC with multiple cores can do more than one task at once, increasing the number of possible tasks that can be done simultaneously and increasing the speed with which those tasks are accomplished.
For example, all else being equal, a processor with four cores will be faster and more efficient than a processor with only two cores.
However, things get even more complicated because, technically, the cores themselves can be split virtually, meaning the processing power gets even more efficient. This virtual splitting results in another specification called threads.
How To Find Number of Cores
If you are using Windows 10, you can press the Windows key on your keyboard and type in “System” or “System Information” to find the location of this information. You will see your hardware outlined, and the processor’s description will include the number of cores.
Use the “About this Mac” feature to see the core count if you have a MAC.
On the Linux operating system, you can use a variety of commands to display the core information. One such command is the
lscpu command. The core count will be listed among others, so be sure you are reading the correct line for your core count.
Does Number of Processor Cores Matter?
In short, it does matter. None of today’s CPUs are released as single-core products. These were used in the past but are no longer viable for today’s computing demands.
However, how many you need depends on what you plan to do with your computer. Just because you can have 16 cores does not mean you should get a CPU with that many cores when your money might be better spent elsewhere. PC building, or even just choosing from a list of pre-built computers, involves balancing the components to work well together for the purposes you intend to use it for.
Quad-core CPUs are very popular for desktop computers, especially gaming ones. You are, in most cases, going to be more than well off with a quad-core CPU, all else being equal. All else being equal part is crucial: A computer’s components should be compatible with each other and optimize each other. This means choosing parts that will be used to their potential without wasting their performance capabilities.
For example, a 16-core CPU is not a good investment if you plan to play games like Fortnite and Overwatch, watch Netflix, and browse the Internet. It is also a bad investment if you are going to use an Nvidia 1060 graphics card, which will not be able to utilize the full capabilities of the very powerful CPU.
So, while the number of processor cores matters in terms of the maximum performance of the CPU, you do not need the most cores possible to have a very powerful PC for even the most demanding tasks.
Whether you use a Windows, Mac, or Linux-based operating system, you can find out how many processor cores you have. The way to go about this varies by each operating system but can be easily found on all three.
Core counts are an important specification when looking at a CPU’s capabilities, but you also have to consider the thread count (virtual cores). Furthermore, you have to think about the other hardware that will be used with the computer as a whole, because the overall performance is only as good as the sum of all the parts.
For instance, a high-end CPU cannot make up for a low-end GPU, or vice versa.
You want a dual-core computer or laptop at a minimum because single-cores cannot keep up with today’s computing.