I have a PC with Windows 7 and an Intel core i7 processor. Does Blender automatically detect and make use of all six cores (such as when rendering), or is there some setting that I should adjust to take advantage of the processing power of my computer?
Set number of threads to use in rendering in the Render / Performance panel. By default it is set to use all threads. Note that some simulations are single threaded
Blender should use all cores/threads of your CPU automatically during render process.
Check with BMW27 benchmark, user with 6 core > https://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?239480-2-7x-Cycles-benchmark-(Updated-BMW)&p=3083181&viewfull=1#post3083181
BMW27 .blend on first page.