I'm shopping for a laptop for my son to use for school, so it doesn't need to be a gaming machine. I've put together PC's from scratch before, but it's been a while.
I've noticed that a number of the available entry-level machines are equipped either with a dual-core or a single-core CPU. I understand that all other things being equal the dual-core CPU will probably perform better. However, what if the single core had a lot bigger L2 cache (say 3 MB for the single core vs. 1 MB for the dual core)? I know this can also significantly affect performance.
I understand that other system components, e.g. the memory speed and graphics hardware, will also affect system performance. My question is, if I have to choose between an extra CPU core or more cache, what should I pick?