Final Words

Every generation a ridiculously overclockable bargain chip is born, and the Core 2 Duo E4300 is just that chip. Although it's not yet launched, Intel has a true winner on its hands with the E4300. Last year we saw overall desktop performance redefined by the Core 2 lineup, and in 2007 it looks like Intel will begin changing what we've come to expect in the sub-$200 CPU market. What's even more impressive is that in another quarter, the E4300 will drop even further to $133. At these prices you can build a second or third system with some very strong performance, at a very reasonable price tag.

The best part of it all is that the E4300 is a no-compromise core; you end up losing VT support, but all of the performance elements are there. The 800MHz FSB isn't crippling enough to really hinder performance, and the smaller cache is more than acceptable for the vast majority of applications. The Core 2 Duo E4300 is no Celeron; if anything it's a spiritual successor to a long line of attractive, highly overclockable Intel CPUs. It's everything Intel's Pentium D 820 was, but with much higher performance and a much lower power envelope.

At default speeds, the E4300 isn't all that impressive in the grand scheme of things; it's effectively a slightly cheaper, slightly slower E6300. But much like the E6300, much of the appeal of the E4300 comes from overclocking - and overclock it does. Compared to other Core 2 CPUs, the E4300 doesn't set any new overclocking records but at the price it's a true bargain.

The change in base FSB speed also has advantages in overclocking, making it possible to use a linked (1:1 ratio) memory speed and still get extremely high overclocks without resorting to anything more than DDR2-800 memory. The E6300 has a 7x multiplier and a 266 MHz base bus speed, so without dropping to a 4:5 ratio and sticking with DDR2-800, the E6300 tops out at 7x400 or 2.8 GHz. With a 9x multiplier the E4300 can potentially reach as high as 9x400 or 3.6 GHz while keeping memory at or below DDR2-800. While it is possible to get bus speeds of P965 motherboards above 500 MHz, it is far more difficult and often requires more expensive component choices, making the E4300 the new king of budget overclocking. Throw in a more powerful CPU cooling setup, and we have no doubt it will be very easy to exceed our 3.37GHz overclock by a large margin.

At stock speeds, the E4300 ends up offering similar performance to the Athlon 64 X2 4200+. In SYSMark 2004SE, DivX and some games it's faster, and in other situations it's basically the same speed. The Athlon 64 X2 3800+ ends up being slower in every benchmark, but with a lower price it's still a reasonable choice. Obviously the Core 2 upgrade path is a bit more desirable these days than AMD's Socket-AM2 platform, so the E4300 gets the nod there, but you can't really go wrong with either chip at default settings. When overclocked things get a little more complicated, but the E4300 gets the recommendation as a 2.8 - 3.0GHz Athlon 64 still ends up being slower than a 3.38GHz Core 2.

Compared to Intel's other value offerings, mainly the existing Pentium D lineup, the decision is clear. With the E4300 at $163 and moving down to $133 by Q2, cheap no longer means NetBurst. Intel is planning on significantly ramping its dual core presence this year, and with the E4300 available as a part of the lineup we can see exactly how. If you're building a Vista system early this year and want to do it efficiently, Intel is going to make it even cheaper to do.

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  • sdsdv10 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I think the point was, with higher multiplier of the 4300 over the 6300 (or 6320) you don't need to go to such high FSB numbers (requiring more expensive DDR2 RAM) to get a good overclock. That might save you another $25-50. So for a MB, CPU and RAM combo you would pay say $450 for a 6300 setup, but you "may" get the same performance out of a 4300 setup for ~$350 (say $50 less on the CPU and another $50 on the RAM, roughly 20-25% less). That's a nice savings for those on a tight buget. Reply
  • atenza - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Exactly! And it's also good news for people like me, who want to build a nice little (yet overclocked) Micro-ATX system. None of those boards currently gets anywhere beyond ~330 FSB. At 333MHz FSB, the E6300 would only run at 2.33 GHz. The E4300 would achieve 3.00 GHz, which is enough for me. Reply
  • Patrese - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    If it doesn't come to Brazil with the ridiculous price premiums the rest of the Core 2 line is coming (an E6600 costs US$550 here!), that chip is destined to be the next one I have, so that I can get rid of my good-old Athlon XP 3200+... Great news in that sense, but what I find really irritating about Intel is the short life of their chipsets and motherboards... Every year or so I'd have to upgrade my motherboard to upgrade processors.

    BTW, no AMD fanboy here... If K8L proves to be troublesome on AM2 motherboards you're gonna see me complaining about that too. I just find the idea of upgrading motherboards so fast irritating... :(
  • 1111111 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link


    Windows Media Encoder is far more favorable to AMD CPUs and thus the E4300 ends up being a little slower than the X2 3800+.

    The Windows Media Encoder chart shows the E4300 faster than the X2 3800+ and the either the chart is wrong or the sentence is wrong:)
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    See above - fixed. Reply
  • harpoon84 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    "Windows Media Encoder is far more favorable to AMD CPUs and thus the E4300 ends up being a little slower than the X2 3800+. Our overclocked chip ends up, once again, on top of the charts."

    Actually, the E4300 is faster than the X2 3800+ in this test.

    "At stock speeds, the E4300 ends up offering similar performance to the Athlon 64 X2 3800+."

    You are being overly kind to the X2 3800+. The E4300 beats it in the majority of the benchmarks. The E4300 is the equal of the X2 4200+ if you tally up the results.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I have edited these two paragraphs to better reflect the results. The X2 3800+ is currently $30 cheaper than the initial launch price of the E4300, so it's still the cheapest way to get into a dual core setup without getting the power requirements of NetBurst, but I don't think most of us would really recommend X2 3800+ over the E4300... it's about a tie in terms of recommendation, depending on the intended use. Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    well if you wouldn't recommend the 3800 over the e4300 maybe oc' wise yess, but don't forget to mention that a decent intel chipset also costs 30$ more than the amd solution...

    so pricewise a and performance wise 4200 is still more interesting than the e4300 unless you oc.

    try some vista benchmarks and you'll see what the best chips are future wise...... AMD for sure.
  • OcHungry - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I think people have misconception about AMD and vista (64bit). Have you run the 64bit vista? most of the benchmarks I tried w/ AMD's dual core were slower or froze cold. Vista has a long ways to go yet to be a choice OS. There is also the 32bit version of vista if you want C2D to run it. As for me I will not run vista until its matured and games can run faster (than winxp). Nvidia has not created a bug free vista driver yet. The latest nvidia vista (64bit) driver I installed turned out buggy and did not fully install (No nvidia display panel). I dont know, maybe it was me. But I have practically given up on it and am back to winxp. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    There seems to be an assumption by some people that Core 2 is going to somehow be slower in 64-bit mode. I highly doubt this for a couple reason: one, AMD isn't faster in 32-bit; two, 64-bit vs. 32-bit isn't a huge difference in architecture. Basically, 64-bit is just 64-bit registers and a few extra opcodes. Reply

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