Ultimate Budget Overclocking Box - A 3.5 GHz Core 2 System with a €49 CPU

Intel Pentium Dual-Core

When building a high-performance computer, most people would assume that you’d have to go with expensive top-of-the-line components. That’s not an option for everyone, as budget constraints make it necessary to find the component that most sensibly suits your needs and your wallet. We have already showed you a few options that allow you to make the most of your investment in our previous articles “Sibling Rivalry - Intel E6750 and Q6600 Overclocking Duel” and our Buyer’s Guides.

Through a variety of tests, we have now found a solution compatible with even the tightest of budgets. Intel’s Pentium Dual-Core offers heretofore unseen overclocking potential which transforms this inconspicuous “low-cost CPU” into a very potent and much faster middle class CPU with the right settings. Many buyers aren’t sure what to make of the Pentium Dual-Core when they see it selling for €49. The “Pentium” in the name may lead some to believe it is related to the old (P4) Netburst micro-architecture. In reality, though, this is nothing more than a marketing trick to differentiate the low cost CPU from the more expensive Core 2 line.

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The Pentium Dual-Core models E2140 and E2160 as well as the newer additions E2180 and E2200 all possess a full-fledged Core 2 Duo core that has only been pared down in two respects, allowing Intel to sell a low-cost part. For one thing, it only comes with 1 MB instead of 4 MB, for another, it is limited to a maximum clock speed of 2 GHz on an 800 MHz FSB.

We were able to overclock the Pentium Dual-Core smallest model, the E2140 that sells for €49, by 87.5% without even having to increase the core voltage. When we did apply voltage tweaks, we were even able to realize a clock speed increase of 118%, with the system remaining completely stable, of course.

In this article, we give you a step-by-step guide to how to achieve this overclock, list the other components we used (motherboard, memory, cooler, and power supply) and what settings you’ll need to use to create a fast and stable overclocked Pentium Dual-Core system. We also provide a couple of tips regarding what to watch out for when choosing your components so that building the system according to our suggestion will be enjoyable.

As far as cost is concerned, the components set us back by €470. However, since operating costs such as the power bill should also be taken into consideration when building a low-cost system, we also analyzed the system’s energy consumption extensively. The entire overclocked system, including the graphics card and the drives, consumed 105 Watts when idle.

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  • spanner_razor
    Each time you run these tests I wonder why the GTX has a reported ram size of 512mb, does such a thing exist I thought I was 768mb.
  • spuddyt
    def 768mb
  • spuddyt
    that does semm like a good deal, i'm curious as to how it compares with stuff like the x2 4000 OC'd....
  • hollett
    I'm going to sound like a proper skin-flint now but why do sites always spoil buget overclocks by using a €90 motherboard and a €45 cooler.

    If I was tring to save a few pounds/Euros then what is wrong with a P31 based system board at around €50-60 and running the cpu it 2.66-3.00Ghz (333-357fsb), without having to spend another €45 on a cooler (Use the boxed Intel one).

    Use the €75-85 you have saved to buy a better graphics card which will make more diffrence to gaming.
  • mi1ez
    I'm wondering why the X2 6400+ comes up on the graphs coloured as an E2140...
  • perzy
    This is the kind of articles that make THG great! This is why i read this site. Other sites are just like an advertising leaflet.
  • Mugz
    Maybe I've found a worthy successor to my P4HT 631.

    Here, victim victim victim... *starts sharpening P35-DS3L's claws*
  • vicious5id
    Would this make a good HTPC?
  • Sakaura
    Looks very good and you can stick a quad processor in it when they come down to a reasonable price and OC that to increase its longevity.
    Could any one recommend the rest of the core components to complete the system that whist sticking to a low/medium budget will not become so decrepid it will need chucking out at the next up grade. I am going from a P4 (and I was Delled) so I need everything except Keyboard/mouse and monitor. I.e a good quality case, Sata HD and optical drive.

    It will not be a gaming machine but a home workhorse with some graphics work running XP2/Vist a ?Leopard (yeah I know). So the Power Colour gfx card is over kill and I am prejudiced against ATI(probably unjustly). I was thinking along the lines of a LIAN LI PC-7B plus II ATX case and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB SATA II. Some Sata DVD/DW drive. (All Sata because of the ?Leopard bit I know I might not work ... yet.)

    Any suggestions would be welcome.

  • MrRimmer
    I wonder if it's possible to use SpeedFan in order to drop the FSB on this motherboard when idling, so that it's possible to take advantage of the low power consumption of a non-OC CPU, with the performance of an OC version (when demanded) at the same time...
    On my ancient Athlon, Speedfan automatically switches from 107MHz FSB when CPU is 70%. The plug-in power meter I have shows 106W @ 107MHz (idle) and 131W @ 163MHz (idle). 1200% CPU uses more in both cases. This is on a A7N motherbaord that has a clock generator supported by SpeedFan.
  • StuartMc
    Thanks for the article guys. I followed in your footsteps and built a PC based on a E2140 and Neo2.

    I'm using a Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro which is a bit cheaper than the one in the article and at 2.9GHz it still idles at 24 degrees C, and stays around 31 when under load (e.g. Prime95 or Crysis).

    However, mine gets unstable at 3.0GHz - but I haven't tinkered with it so I don't know if it's the CPU or the memory - or I may just leave it as it is as it's running at 180% of the rated speed as it is!

    One thing that caught me out... the Neo2 has an 8 pin 12V CPU power socket, and mine had no blanking plate (which you can see in some pictures of the board). When I plugged an 8 pin 12V lead into it into the 8 pin socket (I'm logical like that), it tripped the power supply. I double checked the manual on the Neo and the PSU and it appeared to be okay... but as soon as I swapped to the 4 pin power lead, it suddenly worked fine (thanks to the tech support at Scan for sorting me out)!
  • rnem170
    I got a SLA93 E2140. Running on a P35-DS3P with Geil memory (not black dragon) the best I can get is FSB on 364ish (about 2912mhz), with memory underclocked to 728 (1:1). Any more and it's really unstable.
  • marvxt
    Great article. I must say I'm not computer professional, just normal user, in past 8-9 years I put together 4 machines for use at home, all worked well without bigger problems.
    After reading this article, some other (about motherboards) and considering other not so cheap options, I tried my luck and changed my old PIV 2.8 based machine with this:
    e2140 + gigabyte p31-ds3l + 1x kingmax ddr2 800MHz + radeon x1950gt, all together cost me about 240€, matched it with my old Hitatchi HDD and cheapo Codegen case with cheapo 400W ps.
    Must say, this motherboard is great for overclocking (someone mentioned this chipset in earlier comment) cheap but stable with a lot of oc options.
    New machine works great, from the start worked at 2,66GHz, with memory at 800 MHz,stock processor boxed fan without any need for adjustment. From 2,66 to 2.8 GHz, my enthusiasm was on pause a bit, failed to boot so I needed to adjust Vcore up a little from original setting (from 1,32500 V to 1,37500 V) and there I was in two steps at 2.8 and 3.0 GHz, reached FSB of 375, with memory running at 750MHz. Never tried to go any further.
    With that final 3.0 GHz setting I run Prime for hour and a half, without any instability, and than I just give up Prime and continue my work as usual at 3.0 GHz with hours (better days) of gaming, multimedia and all that... no problems so far.
    For me, it's great processor and perfect match for my GA-p31-ds3l motherboard.
  • caamsa
    Looks like 3 Ghz is the magic number for these processors. Nice article.
  • mark76uk
    Thank you, 'Tom'. I trusted this site's view, as I have with other hardware. I've been running this chip at 3GHz for a month, just now hammering it with H264 decoding. Just rolling steady. Not a single blue screen. Thanks again.