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Processor Alternatives

How To: Get A 4 GHz Dual-Core For $120

3 MB vs. 6 MB L2 Cache

The benchmark section will show that the Core 2 Duo E8500 is a good performer and that the Core 2 Duo E7200 at stock speed clearly lags behind. However, overclocking the E7200 with its 3 MB L2 cache quickly puts the entry-level Core 2 Duo in a favorable position. Clocked at 3.4 GHz, the Core 2 Duo E7200 outperforms the E8500 in almost all benchmarks except a few games and WinZip, which benefits from the E8500’s large L2 cache. Running at 3.8 GHz, the $120 Core 2 Duo E7200 is considerably faster than the E8500, which costs $210 or more.

The E8500’s 6 MB L2 cache clearly provides the higher performance needed for certain games, and the maximum memory performance for applications that require it. However, clock-speed increases lead to easier performance gains than more cache memory, as more applications scales better with increased clock speeds.

See our 2008 Desktop CPU Charts for more processor performance comparison.

There is another option for overclockers, too.

Pentium Dual Core

The Pentium Dual Core family was introduced after the Core 2 Duo, and unlike the Pentium 4 or Pentium D, the Pentium Dual Core has nothing in common with the good old Pentium processors. Instead, all CPUs named Pentium Dual Core are based on the same Core 2 cores, but use even less cache memory and run at slower system speeds. The Pentium Dual Core E2000 family uses only 1 MB shared L2 cache, and is available in 1.6 GHz to 2.4 GHz versions. The latest addition, model E5200, offers 2 MB shared L2 cache and it’s a 45 nm part, while all E2000 Pentium Dual Cores have been based on the 65 nm architecture.

Because these budget processors cost even less than the Core 2 Duo E7200, they appear to be good overclocking options. And they are. In fact, they can typically be overclocked by up to 50 percent. Unfortunately, though, the performance level is considerably lower due to the budget processors’ limited L2 cache—typically 1 MB or 2 MB. What’s more, the 65 nm parts don’t include the performance enhancements offered by the 45 nm Core 2 generation.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 17 November 2008 23:13
    Why didnt you bench the processor at the same speed as the 8500 to make things nice and easy?...
  • 0 Hide
    graphicequaliser , 21 November 2008 02:00
    I have an E8500 overclocked to 3.8GHz using the 400MHz FSB and DDR2-800 Nanya dual channel memory running 1:1. It is the fastest ever and it barely gets warm. It is my home PC. I also have an office PC running an E7200 at stock speeds and that is nice and fast (quiet too). I must say Intel's new 45nm chips are really excellent vfm, fast and ecologically-friendly. Well done Intel! You can find my configs and benchmarks under the picture at
  • 0 Hide
    Solitaire , 25 November 2008 01:33
    You moan about how lame the E5200 is then fail to even bench it to prove your point. You also forgot to say that quite a few people can't afford the extra ~€50 to buy a E7200 over a E5200, or that they'd probably have to spend a similar additional amount on an even better performance mobo to eke out the higher FSB needed to effectively OC a E7200.

    Yes, more FSB is good, but it costs money as the combination of a FSB1066 CPU and a low multiplier means you need a performance mobo that can run stable at FSB1600 to get the E7200 to a speed the high-mult, low-FSB E5200 can achieve at a measly 302MHz FSB (FSB1208 quad-pumped) - something even many cheapie boards can achieve (with FSB1333 compliance being considered the entry level more and more now).

    And I'm surprised that you need 1.40v+ to keep the E7200 stable at 3.8GHz - my E5200 is stable up to 3.75GHz at just 1.30v, and I'm nowhere near finished OCing it. The E5200 is based on low-binned silicon dies and thus is on average more power-hungry (and hot/wasteful), requiring relatively higher voltages to achieve the same speeds as the middle-binned E7XXX (which is in turn inferior to the high-bin E8XXX). Just as a comparison the Intel safety spec says voltages over 1.3625v are not at all good for a 45nm chip's health (although extreme cooling mitigates this somewhat)...
  • 0 Hide
    bobalazs , 25 April 2010 22:29
    The only thing that sucks about this processor is that it does not have virtualization.Otherwise, it's cheap, and easily overclockable.
  • 0 Hide
    bobalazs , 25 April 2010 22:32
    For proper overclock you would have to reduce the 9.5 multiplier to 9 or 8 as most motherboards have trouble with the half multi.