Last year saw the most exciting changing of the guard with processors since the introduction of AMD’s K7 core in 1999. Thanks to very solid competition from AMD over the previous few years, Intel’s introduction of the Core 2 Duo lineup of processors meant much higher performance at very reasonable prices. In fact, the near-launch availability of Core 2 Duo E6400 and E6300 CPUs meant that for less than $300 you could get performance better than previous generation Extreme Edition and FX series processors.

After the initial Core 2 launch, we didn’t see too much more from Intel, other than the late-year release of Intel’s quad-core Kentsfield processors. Earlier this week Intel introduced its second quad-core part, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 priced at $851 for a slightly more affordable entry to the quad-core market. While we won’t see anything quite as interesting as the Core 2 launch for a while now, Intel isn’t remaining quiet this year when it comes to processor releases.

1333MHz FSB processors

Intel’s chipset and CPU release schedules are very tightly integrated, and 2007’s roadmap is no different. Intel has made a habit of releasing a new family of chipsets every year, and this year’s update in Q2 will mainly bring about support for the 1333MHz FSB.

CPU performance and more recently, the number of cores per chip, have gone up drastically in recent years; the slowest Core 2 processors are more powerful in many cases than the fastest of the Pentium 4 line. Despite the quick ramp in performance and number of cores, FSB bandwidth has remained stagnant. In Q2 Intel will introduce Core 2 models ending in the number 50 (e.g. Core 2 Duo E6850, E6750 and E6650) that take advantage of the 1333MHz FSB. Both 1066MHz and 1333MHz versions will coexist as the newer cores will only officially be supported on Intel’s upcoming x35 series of chipsets.

4MB L2 across the board for the 6000 series

Another significant update coming in Q2 is that the low end 6000 series Core 2 Duo processors will receive 4MB L2 caches like their more expensive brethren. Currently the E6300 and E6400 both have 2MB L2s, but both chips will be replaced by 4MB versions - the E6320 and E6420 respectively. Clock speeds and other details won’t change, but performance will obviously increase. The best part of it all is that pricing won’t change either, so if you’re contemplating buying an E6300 or E6400 you’d be better off waiting a quarter so you can get the extra cache for free.

Introducing the 4000 Series
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  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    is this a joke??? Overclocking is done in the BIOS.
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I guess you check the web prices before you post such a comment? to my opinion start price is as high as a 4200 and performance wise more or less the same depending on apps (except for real multithread offcourse where it is known that the c2d performance is less dominating towards the k8).

    "The E4300 gets even better in Q2 when its price will drop from $163 to $133, making it even more of a bargain.
    Today's review will focus on the overall performance of the E4300 at stock speeds as well as when overclocked. At stock speeds the E4300 is priced as a cheaper alternative to the Core 2 Duo E6300 and AMD's Athlon 64 X2 3800+, thus the comparison between those two chips is obvious"

    newegg price 3800: 135">
    newegg price 4200: 169">
    newegg price e6300: 190">
  • tappertrainman - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Can anyone let me know if I would see a big difference upgrading from an A64 (either 1.8GHz or 2.0GHz, I forget) with 1GB of RAM to a Core2 Duo with 2G of RAM?

    I mostly use the computer for WoW, but I do run it at the very highest resolution, widescreen, on a 22in monitor. I also have Ventrilo running at the same time. Otherwise the computer is mostly used for music, internet, etc.

    Am I only going to see a difference if I'm multi-tasking (i.e. WoW, and internet open) or will it improve the single-tasking significantly?

    Thanks for any help or advice.
  • harpoon84 - Friday, January 12, 2007 - link

    A C2D @ 3GHz+ will be MUCH faster than an A64 @ 1.8 - 2GHz at everything, single or multithreaded software, as well as multitasking. It will also help your WoW raid framerates significantly.
  • oneils - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    For games, your best component to upgrade is video card. Especially if you turn up the eye candy at high resolutions. This depends though on what platform you are currently using. If you have pci-e for video, then you might want to upgrade the vid card first.

    A CPU upgrade for wow might not give a noticeable boos...unless you run many applications in the background (ventrillo doesn't take too many resources, I don't I wouldn't be worried about that).

  • tappertrainman - Friday, January 12, 2007 - link

    I already have a 7900GT, are any of the new ones going to be a big step up?
  • clairvoyant129 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    This is a great review, I can build an awesome budget PC for my folks back at home with this and a DS3 for less $$$. Makes AMD's current offerings look like a complete joke.

  • hubajube - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Which corsair ram did you guys use?
  • OcHungry - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Mr. Anand, This review is as objective as can be and I appreciate your fairness to both sides of the coin (Intel vs. AMD). I hope your staff take example and in the future and conduct their reviews in the same manner as you have.
    besiar awlee.
  • ssiu - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Is it 100% stable (per your usual rigorous standards) at 3.375Ghz/1.468V overclocked setting with the stock Intel cooler?

    Is the Intel stock cooler the same for the whole Core 2 Duo line (from E4300/E6300 up to E6700/X6800)?

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