The most critical function I need is virtualization with VMWare.
I am wondering if a dual-core Core i5-520m or a quad-core Core i7-720m processor will get superior virtualization performance.
- To what extent do virtual machines benefit from a quad-core processor?
- Will the lower clock speed (2.4-2.93 GHz vs. 1.6-2.8 GHz) be made up for by having additional cores?
Do you plan to run more than one virtual machine at a time? If not, it’s likely you’ll be better of with the Dual-core, higher clocked CPU.
For a very pertinent comparison see the article Comparing Intel Dual Core and Quad Core using VMark
Edit: as DMA pointed out, what is best will depend on your usage requirements. If you tend to run several processor intensive things concurrently (or an intensive, multithreaded process), the extra cores may be better. When considering ‘concurrent’ this includes processes running inside the VM and outside.
If most of the time the CPu is getting hit by just gcc inside your VM, and whatever else you happen to be running in your host OS, I’d say a dual core would probably suffice – especially if there are cost considerations.