Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Reviewccokeman - September 3, 2008
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The Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad CPUs have been wildly successful in terms of both performance and the ability to overclock like nobody's business. Of course, some better than others. Having dropped from a 65nm to a 45nm manufacturing process earlier this year, Intel has reduced both the required voltage and associated heat generated by this little bit of silicon. Having seen the performance and overclocking abilities of the E8500 and many of its Quad cored brothers, the Q9300, the Q9450 and the QX9770, just how will this higher clocked dual core perform in relation to the quads? The E8400 specs out at a clock speed of 3.0GHz, a front side bus speed of 1333MHz (333), 6MB of L2 cache, and a 45nm process to be used in socket LGA775 motherboards.
The question is asked many times a day, "what's better, a Dual core or a Quad core?" In reality, it all depends on what you do with the computer you build. Some say the duals are better for gaming, others vehemently disagree and spout the virtues of the Quad core category. Let's see if this comparison of CPU performance can end some of this debate or whether it will just add some more fuel to the already simmering flame wars!
The Intel E8400 we have today is not an engineering sample but a full fledged store bought retail version. As such, it comes in the retail packaging, not the pretty jewel box the ES chips are sent to us in. The front panel shows the Intel Core 2 Duo brand ID as well as highlighting the fact that the E8400 is a 45nm desktop product. The rear panel includes warranty information, basic specifications and a motherboard compatibility warning.
Through the top of the box you can see the E8400; this makes looking through a bunch of CPUs at the local store to find that optimum stepping a bit easier. If that's not a concern then it's simply a way to see what you are getting. The side panel includes much of the information that can be seen by looking at the CPU. The production code, batch/ FPO number, and date packed are all additional information that can be checked on this panel of the package.
Once pulled from the box, the contents are in plain view. Included with the CPU (since this is a retail CPU) is the heatsink asembly and a booklet detailing the installation of the CPU.
The heatsink that is included is quite a bit slimmer than those used with the 65nm processors. With the lower voltage requirements this should not be an issue for day to day non-overclocked use. The assembly uses the Intel push pin style locking mechanism to make sure the heatsink assembly stays put once it is locked into place. The heatsink does come with a pre-applied thermal compound that actually spreads out quite nicely. The four pin power plug allows the fan to be dynamically controlled by the motherboard to reduce fan speed (i.e noise) when the computer is idle as well as ramping the fan speed back up when a load is imposed on the CPU.
Finally, the subject of this review, the 45nm E8400. Featuring a 1333MHz bus speed with a clock multiplier of 9, this CPU has a rated speed of 3.0GHz. This makes it faster than all but two of the 8000 series of Core 2 CPUs. L2 cache comes in the form of 3MB per core for a total of 6MB. This CPU is designed to be used in motherboards that use an LGA 775 socket for the processor.
Now let's see how well the E8400 performs across our series of benchmarks. I smell smoke!