Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 & E6400: Tremendous Value Through Overclockingby Anand Lal Shimpi on July 26, 2006 8:17 AM EST
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Over a week has passed since our Core 2 Extreme & Core 2 Duo review and although the dust is finally starting to settle, not all questions have been answered. We're still hard at work on investigating issues like 64-bit performance and comparing performance per Watt across more applications, but today we're here with another piece of the puzzle: a look at the Core 2 Duo E6300 and E6400.
The E6300 and E6400 are particularly attractive members of the Core 2 family because of their fairly low cost; unfortunately their performance isn't as easy to predict because they are currently the only two Core 2 processors that don't have a 4MB L2 cache. We already illustrated in our earlier review that the larger L2 cache found in the E6600 and above is good for up to 10% of a performance boost depending on the application, but the fact of the matter is that the cheapest 4MB Core 2 Duo is $316 while you can have the E6300 and E6400 for $183 and $224 respectively.
In addition to the question of performance, there's also the issue of overclockability. We've already seen that the high end Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme CPUs are fairly overclockable, thanks in no small part to Intel's 65nm manufacturing process, but what about at the low end? Can you take a $183 Core 2 Duo E6300 and through overclocking achieve performance similar to the more expensive E6600 or even the almighty X6800? It's been a while since we've even wanted to overclock an Intel CPU in order to get better performance. In the past we'd simply recommend buying AMD, but with Core 2 Duo the overclocking prospects are too intriguing to ignore.
AMD hasn't been sitting idle; this week its extremely aggressive price cuts go into effect, making the Athlon 64 X2 a more affordable CPU in many cases compared to Intel's Core 2 processors. AMD also announced its intentions to acquire ATI Technologies, but we'll save that discussion for a forthcoming article.
The new pricing structure can be seen below:
|CPU||Clock Speed||L2 Cache||Price|
|Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800||2.93GHz||4MB||$999|
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6700||2.66GHz||4MB||$530|
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6600||2.40GHz||4MB||$316|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+||2.6GHz||512KBx2||$301|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+||2.4GHz||512KBx2||$240|
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6400||2.13GHz||2MB||$224|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+||2.2GHz||512KBx2||$187|
|Intel Core 2 Duo E6300||1.86GHz||2MB||$183|
|Intel Pentium D 945||3.40GHz||2MBx2||$163|
|AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+||2.0GHz||512KBx2||$152|
|Intel Pentium D 915||2.80GHz||2MBx2||$133|
|Intel Pentium D 820||2.80GHz||1MBx2||$113|
|Intel Pentium D 805||2.66GHz||1MBx2||$93|
The Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is now cheaper than the Core 2 Duo E6600, which was really necessary considering that the E6600 is faster than the Athlon 64 FX-62 across the board. If the E6600's street price ends up being significantly higher than the table's suggested $316, the 5000+ (assuming its street price is not also inflated by demand) will be a nice alternative.
The E6400 is now more expensive than the X2 4200+, a comparison that we will be able to look at in-depth today to determine a winner at the low $180 - $230 price range.
And finally we have the E6300, which now is a more expensive competitor to our long-time favorite: the Athlon 64 X2 3800+. Today we'll find out for sure if the E6300 will be the low-cost dual core CPU to have.