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.