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Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Review

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So how much fuel goes into the fire regarding the two core versus four core performance debate? Plenty! In the scientific benchmarks the dual core CPU was picked apart in almost every benchmark, as expected. Some highlights include competitive scores in Apophysis, Sciencemark and the single CPU test in Cinebench 10. Other than that, the E8400 is a no show when competing against the quads, as was my expectation. Here comes the fuel for that bonfire. When it came time to test the gaming performance, I was skeptical of the two cores being better than four when gaming theory that gets spouted about time and time again. In fact, I have argued on the side that Quad cores are used in games. There does seem to be some truth to this theory when I ran the gaming tests. In two of the games tested, Bioshock and Knights of the Sea, the E8400 brought out the broom for a clean sweep of the competition. In Call of Duty 4 and World in Conflict, the performance was pretty much on par with the Quad cores with the differential in performance being just a couple FPS. Company of Heros was a sweep of the Intel Quads but the Phenom came up huge in this benchmark. Reality sets in during the Crysis and 3DMark06 testing that shows the performance that a Quad core CPU brings to the table. So does the dual core E8400 perform this well because of the 3.0GHz clock speed or just because some of the games "work" better with a dual core CPU?

When compared to a quad core CPU, the performance of the E8400 is overshadowed by the Quads. Taken on its own merits, the performance of the E8400 is very respectable. The way to try and equalize that performance is by overclocking the CPU to gain some additional power. You know we all love something "Extra." When it came time to overclock the E8400, it gave all it had to the tune of 4.5GHz; a 1.5GHz overclock on air is pretty decent in my book. However, there is also a point where long term stability has to come into play since I'm not a huge fan of reloading the OS every week. This point was reached at 4.2GHz, with 1.45 volts needed to make this overclock Prime 95 stable. At 4.2GHz there is a nice performance bump to be had. If you play at this voltage range be prpared for temperatures higher than you would like with a retail heatsink. By using a Tuniq Tower the temperatures were kept under control in the mid to high 50 degrees Celsius range. Aftermarket cooling will be a mandatory item for overclocking. Overclocking is not the great equalizer in terms of performance, but the extra power is there if you need it.

Since the release of the E8600 just a few weeks back at $280, the price on the E8400 is pretty attractive at $169. This is almost $100 less than the Q9300 and about $10 less than the Kentsfield based Q6600. In this price range and performance level, the E8400 is a good value for the dollars you spend. I still think I smell smoke!



  • Massive overclocking potential
  • 45nm
  • Performance
  • Price
  • Cool running



  • Hot when overclocked


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