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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  • najames - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    It would be nice if they would include 64bit benchmarks, even nicer would be 64bit Linux benchmarks since I am not paying $300-400 for Vi$ta. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...">http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...

    Core 2 performs a few fetch and decode tricks in IA32 that it cant perform in EM64T. People seem to be overdramatizing the presumed effect that these tricks (or lack thereof) would have on 64bit performance. Ive done a lot of testing with C2 in various forms on XP, 2k3 and Vista x64 and have seen no defficiency with real world performance of C2 EM64T. I'm confident that benchmarks will prove this out.
    Reply
  • Accord99 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    If you're not into overclocking, there are numerous cheap C2D motherboards and unlike the A64, you don't need fast memory. Unlike the A64 which requires DDR2-800 just to perform like S939 DDR-400. And if you overclock, then a simple overclock gives you performance that no AMD can touch.

    And for Vista, the C2D will out-perform the A64 just like it outperforms the A64 in everything else.
    Reply
  • Final Hamlet - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Hello!

    Could you explain to me if Intel's energy-saving feature still works in idle situations when overclocked or does changing the FSB mean that the CPU is _always_ running at those high speeds?

    Can you give me a link to a tutorial how to change FSB speed - or is it simply a matter of mainboard BIOS settings?
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Hello!

    Could you explain to me if Intel's energy-saving feature still works in idle situations when overclocked or does changing the FSB mean that the CPU is _always_ running at those high speeds?

    Can you give me a link to a tutorial how to change FSB speed - or is it simply a matter of mainboard BIOS settings?


    I believe EIST won't work with overclocking(someone update me), but C1E works. The lowest speed at C1E will increase proportionally to FSB speeds though.

    Changing FSB speed is done by BIOS. You can do it from Windows too if your mainboard has the software for it.
    Reply
  • Final Hamlet - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    What is more efficient regarding energy-saving?
    C1e or EIST?
    I really would like to see documented in the article _how_ the CPU was overclocked.
    Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    search google for core 2 duo overclocking guide. Reply
  • keitaro - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    All I can say is... wow... just simply wow...

    A friend of mine is considering sticking with AMD for building a new budget system. I'll have to show her this to see if this'll change her mind. I've already suggested to her to go where the performance is. I hope she'll change her mind after looking through this quick article.

    I so wish I could jump on the Core2 bandwagon right now. I'm glad that Intel is going to put 4MB on all of their 6000 series processors. This'll give me an additional incentive to look at their lowest 4MB Core2 offering. All I'd need then is a good matching motherboard and some quality DDR2 RAM.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    This could very well be put at work in a performance microATX board. When a microATX boards review will be here? Reply
  • Macuser89 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I would like to see the same benchmarks, but with the x6800 overclocked as far as it can go. with the same cooling as the e4300. Reply

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