Intel’s 45nm Dual-Cores have finally arrived, so it’s only fitting that we take one for a spin. Our test subject is the 3.0GHz E8400, offering 6MB cache, SSE4 and more. Overclocking is impressive, with 3.8GHz stable being possible without even raising the voltage! This chip definitely proves itself a winner.
In the intro, I mentioned that Intel’s Core 2 Duo launch in mid-2006 succeeded in getting people excited about processors again, and it’s safe to say that the 45nm launch will accomplish something similar. One thing that has changed since that launch and is well reflected in this one, is pricing.
Case in point: In summer 2006, the E6600 sold for $316 in quantities of 1,000, which would end up being $350 once sold by the e-tailer. Fast forward to now, and we are seeing a far superior product in terms of overall efficiency and speed, and it costs 40% less. Of course, such is the natural progression of things, but it’s certainly a better time than ever to PaPP (ponder a processor purchase!).
If you are in the market for a computer upgrade or want to make the move to 45nm, the E8400 is a superb choice and will no doubt become the most popular 45nm Dual-Core model. It delivers top-rate performance, increased thermal benefits, greater power efficiency and best of all, sells for an easy-to-swallow $220, on average.
Nothing changes when overclocking is brought into the picture. Although the higher-binned E8500 might yield better extreme overclocks, the E8400 delivers incredible potential and costs a full $100 less. We are dealing with a processor that can handle an overclock so large, it eclipses the Quad-Core Q6600. It’s hard to be disgruntled with a processor of such potential.
The capabilities here impressed me more than once. First, the chip managed to remain stable at stock speeds with a low 1.1v voltage. Lower power consumption, a cooler processor… nothing to complain about. Mindblowing was the top-end 4.23GHz overclock, which proved to be completely stable throughout all of stress-testing and benchmarking… nothing could stop it – believe me, I tried. Admittedly, the voltage was semi-high, at 1.475v and 1.71v Northbridge, but even so, the CPU and motherboard ran well within temperature limits. The fact that this was done on air makes it only even more impressive.
For more modest overclocking, our chip also managed to retain stability at 3.825GHz, all at stock CPU voltages. In that case, though, the Northbridge voltage was increased to 1.55v to help support the higher FSB, which is a setting that will not require additional cooling. Using the “Auto” setting on the motherboard, 1.45v was chosen, so this increase is exceptionally minor.
The question now is whether or not you want the E8400, or wait for the Q9xxx Quad-Cores, which will be launched sometime this quarter. It’s a good question, but again falls on what your needs are. If you regularly use applications that will take advantage of additional cores (there are more than you think), then a Quad-Core makes sense. However, if you want raw horsepower more than additional cores, the E8400 will serve you well. Just expect to lose a few nights of your life due to overclocking the beast.
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