How to get more from a quad-core PC

What is the benefit of multicore computing on Windows 7

QUESTION: My Windows 7 Home Premium computer has a quad-core processor and 4GB of RAM. I've not found any advantage to using four cores. How can I use the processor more effectively and allocate different processes to the individual cores? James Dunn

ANSWER: Most modern processors are dual- or quad-core. Multiple cores allow PCs to process data faster and more efficiently, without the need for really fast CPU clock speeds. Windows 7 and a number of other software programs have been designed to spread their load over several cores and thus run faster with such processors than they would on a single-core machine.

Older applications that haven't been designed in this way will need to be told how to effectively designate tasks to each core. Processor Affinity lets you specify which core each program runs on.

Call up the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl, Shift, Esc and choosing that option. Select the Processes tab. A list of all the applications and processes currently running on your machine will appear. Right-click on any process or program and choose Set Affinity.

By default, Affinity instructs all processes to run on all cores; you can change this in the dialog box that pops up by removing the tick in the box beside each processor core that you don't want an application to run on.

Not many programs are able to take advantage of multiple cores as yet, but as time moves on and software is updated you'll see many more software applications make the multicore leap.

See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

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Tags desktop pcsCPUsPCs & laptopsdual coreWindows 7Componentsquad-coreprocessorsPC Peripheralsnotebooks

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