If you took the time to read through our benchmark results, you would no doubt agree that Intel’s new Core 2 Duo E8500 is a powerful chip. Intel’s new “Wolfdale” architecture and its hefty 6MB of L2 cache bring excellent speed gains to the Core 2 lineup, and also offers dramatically improved overclockability and video encoding performance. Considering many thought that dual-cores would go end-of-life once quad-cores hit mainstream prices, the new Core 2 Duo lineup certainly proves otherwise. With its high core clock speed, this chip delivers nearly all the performance of a lower clocked quad-core with most applications, but without the drawbacks of power consumption and heat production.
Of course, the Core 2 Duo E8500 is not an inexpensive chip. While it has not hit the market in volume yet, most are expecting this model to sell in the high $200 to low $300 range, which is right on par with Intel’s low-end quad-core models, like the Core 2 Quad Q6600. In the grand scheme of things, $300 for a chip with this kind of performance is honestly a pretty decent value – although some may be swayed by the benefits of having two extra cores at lower clock speeds rather than a highly clocked dual-core. It’s a tough call, and what you should choose should depend on the applications which you’re running.
If you’re a gamer, the Core 2 Duo E8500 will deliver better performance compared to a low-end quad-core. Games benefit from the large amount of L2 cache coupled with low latencies and high clock speeds. If you’re looking for a workstation chip, we would likely opt for a low-end quad-core instead, as these chips can handle multi-tasking a bit better and can bring excellent performance if your application of choice is multithreaded. If you’re an enthusiast looking for the best bang for your buck, it’s a very tough call. Intel’s new 45nm Core 2 Duo lineup is far more overclockable compared to 65nm Core 2 quad processors, and they seem to be much more flexible and can handle 4.0 GHz+ clock speeds with relative ease. Comparing a low-end quad-core system to a 4.0 GHz overclocked dual-core “Wolfdale” system, we could honestly feel a large speed difference in Vista for the better with “Wolfdale”. Make no mistake, you still can have a blazing fast Vista system with a dual-core.
The market appeal for such chips may be limited, especially considering Intel’s mainstream 45nm Core 2 Quad processors are hitting the market soon as well, but this chip is perfect for those who want a highly clocked system with plenty of cache, while still remaining very tolerable in terms of heat and noise. The Core 2 Duo E8500 is a great chip, and while it’s a bit pricey at this point, it’s completely worth it in our opinion.