Intel Core 2 Duo & Core 2 Extreme Processors, Chipsets And Performance Analysis

Article Index

Our Summary & Conclusion

Benchmark And Performance Summary:
There are two groups of performance data to discuss here, the Core 2 Duo E6700's and Core 2 Extreme X6800's performance versus competing processors, and Core 2 Extreme X6800 performance on the three different chipsets / motherboards we tested.  Thankfully, the Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Extreme X6800 paint a very clear performance picture. In every benchmark we ran, both of the Core 2 processors we tested outperformed the Athlon 64 FX-62 and Athlon 64 5000+, and they handily outpaced the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 as well. The Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Extreme X6800 put up some of the fastest benchmark scores we have seen to date.  Clock-for-Clock, the Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Extreme X6800 are faster than any other desktop processor currently available.

Core 2 compatible chipset performance is also relatively clear. All of the chipsets we tested, the 975X Express, the P965, and the nForce 4 SLIX16, performed similarly throughout our entire array of benchmarks.  There was some variation in a few tests likely due to drivers or relative immaturity, but there is no one chipset we tested that clearly outpaced another.

Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme are almost here, and they seem to be everything Intel promised and then some.  The Core 2's 4-issue core, shorter pipeline, Smart Memory Access and Advanced Smart Cache technologies make Intel the performance leader once again.  It was a tough few years for Intel, as AMD's Athlon 64, FX, and X2 processors outperformed their products almost across the board.  But Intel isn't playing second fiddle to AMD anymore.  Make no mistake, the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme are very real, and their performance is undeniable. 

Processor No. Clock FSB Cache Packaging Price (Jul 23)
X6800 2.93GHz 1066MHz 4MB LGA775 $999
E6700 2.66GHz 1066MHz 4MB LGA775 $530
E6600 2.4GHz 1066MHz 4MB LGA775 $316
E6400 2.13GHz 1066MHz 2MB LGA775 $224
E6300 1.86GHz 1066MHz 2MB LGA775 $183
945 3.4GHz 800MHz 2x2MB LGA775 $163
915 2.8GHz 800MHz 2x2MB LGA775 $133
820 2.8GHz 800MHz 2x1MB LGA775 $113
805 2.66GHz 800MHz 2x1MB LGA775 $93

There are some questions that remain, however. The chart above illustrates Intel's future desktop product line-up, with MSRPs for each.  On July 27th, enthusiast-class Core 2 processor based systems should be available from some vendors, and we suspect some processors will show up at a few e-tailers as well, but volume won't truly ramp up until the August / September timeframe.  Between now and then, we're unsure what pricing will actually be like for the end user.  Considering the Core 2's dominant performance and the likelihood of limited availability, street prices will probably be quite high for some time.

We're also unsure how the lower-end E6400 and E6300 will perform with "only" 2MB of cache. Representatives tell us performance is very good and that we'll have samples sometime soon, but we won't know for sure until we test one for ourselves.

The last question is AMD's response. The company has been quiet as of late, but if Core 2 processors aren't widely available for some time and street prices are excessively high, AMD may not feel the need to be vocal about upcoming products just yet. We know AMD's 4x4 platform that'll feature a pair of dual-core FX processors is on the way, the FX-64 is in the works as well, the company's got low-power X2s available, they will eventually move to 65nm, and the K8L could arrive anytime between Q2 2007 and Q2 2008 if current rumors are to be believed. AMD will surely have an answer for the Core 2 Duo in time.  Whether or not it's enough in the eyes of consumers is another question, however.  For now though, Intel is riding high. "Intel - Leap Ahead".  That's exactly what they just did. 

  • The fastest Desktop CPU currently, period.
  • Overclockable
  • Low-Power
  • Availability may be limited at first
  • Street Prices?

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