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.

New Pricing

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.

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  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Assuming you have the Socket AM2 platform, then yes you can, remember 5000+ only exists for Socket AM2, and not Socket 939.

    Since that platform is relatively new, only a handful who have would consider upgrading to anything.
  • Gigahertz19 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I'm definetly going with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.4GHz since it is the cheapest one that has 4Mb of L2 cache and overclock it to 3GHz or whatever is stable.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    I'm also missing any mention of single core solutions. Sure, dual core is the future, but in the present, single core is just as fast for games and a lot cheaper.
    An Athlon 64 3800+ 2.4 ghz costs only 110 dollar/euro.
  • krisia2006 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    AMD left me wanting for an affordable dual core cpu and Intel answered.
    I bought the Pentium Ds and will buy the Core 2 Duo.
    In the present, I play games fine on my Pentium Ds.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link


    Gamers on the other hand are probably going to at least want to think about SLI/CrossFire, which means they might need to pay more for an appropriate motherboard, especially if overclocking is a primary concern.

    Isn't way too much attention given to CF/SLI?
    Given the costs, it's only interesting to 'diehard' gamers that spend very much money on their systems.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    The benefits in some games are huge, and I would say just about any gamer would at least *think* about CF/SLI before making a decision as to what to buy. That doesn't mean they have to go that route, but without CF/SLI you will certainly be GPU limited at higher resolutions. This is a well-established fact, as in recent titles you can't run 1600x1200 or 1680x1050 with 4xAA/8xAF and still get CPU-limited results.
  • samuraiBX - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    Hey guys, I like the article, but I was wondering, why did you go with medium settings instead of ultra high or high? I'd like to see the performance in that arena more than the medium settings. Any chance we could get those? Thanks!
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    The performance is obvious, even on a Crossfire system with image quality settings tunred up you will get a straight line down the middle between NetBurst, K8, and Core based products due to the GPU being the bottleneck, since the emphasis was CPU performance, they need to kick back on the GPU settings a tad to make sue the CPU is the limiting factor.

    Real world, a Pentium D 915/945 would be sufficient for gaming.
  • bob661 - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    What impresses me the most about these Conroe's is their OCing ability. Almost as fast as a Conroe EE for less than a 1/4 of its price.
  • mkruer - Wednesday, July 26, 2006 - link

    You might want to pick up the new stepping 6 (mass produces ones) A lot of people over at xteamesystesm are complaining that the stepping 6 doesn’t over clock nearly as well as the stepping 5 and that the temperatures are staring to go though the roof.

    Personally I would love to know if this is true

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