There is no single answer to the question: How many threads can a Quad-Core processor handle at once.
The amount of threads that a quad-core processor can handle at once depends entirely on the model of the processor.
Generally, each core pertains to a single thread. However in case if a consumer grade processor has multi-threading technology enabled (Hyper-Threading in Intel’s case and HyperTransport in AMD’s case), then it handles twice as many threads.
The total amount of threads is referred to as the total amount of Logical Processors.
If you want to learn more about cores and threads, read this: Difference between physical cores and logical processors
What is Intel’s Hyper Threading and AMD’s HyperTransport?
Intel’s Hyper Threading and AMD’s HyperTransport are basically multi threading technologies. This technology improves the performance of the processors as a whole especially in multi-threaded environments like editing and rendering.
Previously, games weren’t well optimized for utilizing multiple threads. That has changed drastically now.
While more threads do not mean that the physical number of cores in your processor increases, it certainly boosts the performance of each core.
In the most simplest of terms, multi-threading allows each core to do two things simultaneously.
In (somewhat) more advanced terms, a single core always works on a single application at a time. Two threads on a single core basically means that the particular core has two ‘conveyor belts‘ instead of just one to feed it.
These conveyor belts (threads) merge onto a single core.
So you can have two queues of instructions being fed to the processor at a time. However, the amount of execution that the overall processor can perform at a time depends on the amount of cores you have, NOT on the amount of threads you have.
Gary explains threads even better.
How Many Threads Can Quad Core Processors Handle CURRENTLY?
Let us look at some of the latest processors from the Intel 8th generation Core series and AMD 2nd generation Ryzen series.
To find out the number of cores and threads, you can visit Intel and AMD website OR you can visit websites like notebookcheck.net for in depth reviews as well.
Quad Core CPU From the Intel Core i3 Series
In the previous generation (i.e 7th and earlier), the Core i3 processors had 2 cores with 4 threads (Hyper Threading). However, with the current generation (8th), that has changed.
While the “U” sub series i.e Core i3-8130U still follows the older architecture with 2 cores and 4 threads, the rest of the i3 processors have all been upgraded to 4 cores.
Here is the list of Quad Core i3s and their supported number of threads.
- Core i3-8350K: 4 Cores / 4 Threads
- Core i3-8300: 4 Cores / 4 Threads
- Core i3-8100: 4 Cores/ 4 Threads
- Core i3-8100H: 4 Cores / 4 Threads
Therefore, except for the “u” series, all of the Quad Core Intel Core i3 processors of the current generation support 4 threads.
Quad Core CPU From the Intel Core i5 Series
The top of the line Intel Core i5 processors from the current generation are 6 Core processors. However, here we will only consider some of the Quad Core processors.
- Core i5-8259U: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Core i5-8300H: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Core i5-8265U: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
The select few Core i5 processors from the latest generation have hyper threading enabled. These quad core processors have 8 threads.
Also Read: Do More Cores Mean a Better Performance?
Quad Core CPU From the Intel Core i7 Series
While most top of the line latest Core i7 offer 6 cores with 12 threads. Here are a few current-gen Quad Core i7 processors:
- Core i7-8565U: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Core i7-8559U: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Core i7-8705G: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Core i7-8809G: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
Again, here we also see that the maximum number of threads offered by a quad core processor is just double the amount of its cores.
Quad Core CPU From the AMD Ryzen 3 Series
Similar to the Core i3, the quad core processors from Ryzen 3 series offer a maximum of 4 threads.
- Ryzen 3 2200G: 4 Cores / 4 Threads
- Ryzen 3 2200GT: 4 Cores / 4 Threads
Quad Core CPU From the AMD Ryzen 5 Series
While most processors in this series are hexa core processor with 12 threads. There certainly are some Quad Core processors with 8 cores.
Here are a few
- Ryzen 5 2500x: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Ryzen 5 2400G: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
- Ryzen 5 2400GE: 4 Cores / 8 Threads
What About Ryzen 7?
All AMD Ryzen 7 processors are Octa Core with 16 threads in total!
To answer the question: how many threads can a quad-core processor handle at once?
The minimum number of threads that it can handle is 4, the maximum number of threads that it can handle is 8.
Can A Quad Core Processor Handle More Threads?
However, the consumer grade processor from Intel and AMD most certainly do not at this point and time offer 4 way or 8 way multi-threading.
There most certainly are server grade processors that can handle 4 way or even 8 way multi-threading. These are built for highly specific tasks and do not really have much use for the consumer applications.
Intel Xeon Phi server grade processors support 4 way multi-threading. Xeon Phi 7235, for example, has 64 cores and 256 threads.
The Oracle Sparc T5 microprocessors can support 8 way multi threading. Their 16 core processors can have as many as 128 threads!