Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Review
Reviewed by: ajmatson
Reviewed on: March 2, 2008
A CPU for a computer is like the brain in your head. No matter what other ancillary parts you have running around it, without a good processor your computer is brain dead. With the number of CPUs being released getting faster and faster, which is the right one for you? All the current rage in high performance computing is the use of Quad core CPUs. So where does that leave the dual core variety? The mid range market? The basic business workstation? The Core 2 Duo platform is still really strong and will give you the power you need without breaking the bank to get it.
One of the latest Core 2 Duo chips developed by Intel is the E8500. The Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 is based on the LGA 775 pin configuration and features a 3.16GHz clock speed, 6MB L2 Cache, and a 1333MHz bus speed. The E8500 is manufactured using the 45nm manufacturing process for better performance and cooling. So how will the latest release from Intel fare in a heads up comparison? The performance and clock speed increases seen on the E8400 processors in the enthusiast sector are huge. Will the E8500 follow in those footprints or strike off on its own to write a new story?
The Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 arrived packaged in a little black box from Intel. I was excited because it looked like a jewelry box and I could not wait to see the "diamond" that laid inside. The E8500 was packaged very well inside between two foam layers and a protective shield over the bottom.
The E8500 that I received was an engineering sample. The downfall with this is if this is an early produced chip, it might not offer the same performance that a final production retail chip might. Is that the case this time? We will have to let the scores speak for themselves. Just like the packaging, the E8500 is the only thing in the box and had the Model number written on the heat shield to identify it.
Number of cores
L2 Cache size
L2 Cache Speed
Thermal Design Power
0.85V – 1.3625V
- Dual-Core Processing
Two independent processor cores in one physical package run at the same frequency, and share up to 6 MB of L2 cache as well as up to a 1333 MHz Front Side Bus, for truly parallel computing.
- Intel® Wide Dynamic
Improves execution speed and efficiency, delivering more instructions per clock cycle. Each core can Execution complete up to four full instructions simultaneously.
- Intel® Smart Memory Access
Optimizes the use of the data bandwidth from the memory subsystem to accelerate out-of-order execution. A newly designed prediction mechanism reduces the time in-flight instructions have to wait for data. New pre-fetch algorithms move data from system memory into fast L2 cache in advance of execution. These functions keep the pipeline full, improving instruction throughput and performance. 45nm versions further improve this feature, with more efficient methods of loading and storing data in main memory.
- Intel® Advanced Smart Cache
The shared L2 cache is dynamically allocated to each processor core based on workload. This efficient, dual-core optimized implementation increases the probability that each core can access data from fast L2 cache, significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.
- Intel® Advanced Digital
Accelerates the execution of Streaming SIMD Extension (SSE) instructions to significantly improve the performance on a broad range of applications, including video, audio, and image processing, and multimedia, encryption, financial, engineering, and scientific applications. The 128-bit SSE instructions are now issued at a throughput rate of one per clock cycle effectively doubling their speed of execution on a per clock basis over previous generation processors. 45nm versions include a new Super Shuffle Engine, which improves existing SSE instructions while enabling significant gains on the latest SSE4 instruction set. SSE4-optimized applications, such as video editing and encoding in high-definition resolution, will see additional performance improvements.
- Intel® Virtualization
Intel® VT allows one hardware platform to function as multiple “virtual” platforms. For businesses, Intel VT Technology (Intel® VT) offers improved manageability, limiting downtime and maintaining worker productivity by isolating computing activities into separate partitions.
- Intel® Trusted Execution
Intel® TXT provides hardware-based mechanisms to help protect against software-based attacks and Technology (Intel® TXT) help protect the confidentiality and integrity of data stored or created on the system. It does this by enabling a trusted environment where applications can run within their own space, protected from all other software on the system.
- Intel® 64 Architecture
Enables the processor to access larger amounts of memory. With appropriate 64-bit supporting hardware and software, platforms based on an Intel processor supporting Intel 64 architecture can allow the use of extended virtual and physical memory.
- Execute Disable Bit
Provides enhanced virus protection when deployed with a supported operating system. The Execute Disable Bit allows memory to be marked as executable or non-executable, allowing the processor to raise an error to the operating system if malicious code attempts to run in non-executable memory, thereby preventing the code from infecting the system.
- Intel Designed Thermal
Includes a 4-pin connector for fan speed control to help minimize the acoustic noise levels generated Solution for Boxed from running the fan at higher speeds for thermal performance. Fan speed control technology is based Processors on actual CPU temperature and power usage.
I am going to put the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 through a series of benchmarks and video tests to see how well it performs at stock and overclocked speeds. It will be matched against Intel's E6750 Core 2 Duo chip and I will also compare it to AMD's Phenom 9600 Black Box and Intel's Q6600 Quad Core to see how it stacks up to those popular chips. The E8500 will be tested at manufacturer's specifications for the stock baseline tests and then overclocked to get the highest attainable and stable speed. All other hardware will remain at setup defaults to eliminate any variables that might throw off the scores with the exception of the memory to aid in the overclocking of the E8500.
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 333 x 9.5
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X38-DS4 w/Bios version F2
- Memory: OCZ Platinum Edition PC2-8000 5-5-5-18 2 x 2GB
- Video Card: Asus 8800 GT 512MB Forceware 169.25
- Power Supply: Ultra X2 750w Extreme Edition
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals: Lite-On 8x DVD+/-RW
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750
- Comparison CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
- Processor:AMD Phenom 9600 Black Box
- Motherboard: Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe
- Memory: OCZ Platinum Edition PC2-8000 5-5-5-18 2 x 2GB
- Video Card(s): Asus 8800 GT 512MB Forceware 169.25
- Power Supply: Ultra X2 750w Extreme Edition
- Hard Drive: Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals: Lite-On 8x DVD+/-RW
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500
- Sytem Memory: OCZ PE 910MHz 5-6-6-17
Overclocking this chip has been a pure pleasure. When paired with the X38 chipset, the potential could be far out there with the correct cooling setup. I started at 400 x 9 and 1.35v and the system booted so flawlessly that I knew that it was thirsty for more. So I jumped the multiplier to 9.5 and kept raising the FSB by 15MHz while keeping the voltage the same until it would not boot. Then I upped the voltage and started again. In the end I was able to push the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 chip to 4.322GHz before the temps got high enough to make me not want to take the chance. I ended up with the E8500 at 455FSB x 9.5 multiplier for the speed I obtained with a voltage increase to 1.45v. At 4.322GHz I was able to complete SuperPI, Orthos Prime and all of the benchmarks with no problems at all.
- Scientific & Data:
- SpecviewPerf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- Cinebench 10
- HD Tune 2.54
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Jaurez
- 3DMark 06 Professional
Apophysis is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.
Here you can see in the Apophysis benchmark that the E8500 destroyed the other processors in the amount of time it took to render the image. In the WinRAR tests the E8500 held on almost on par with the competition.
Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.
PcMark Vantage is the latest of FutureMark's PcMark series benchmark. It is used to measure complete system performance. I will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual setup to see which one, if any, rises above the others.
For Specview, which is heavily based on OpenGL tests, the E8500 again triumphed while coming in second to last in PCMark Vantage at stock and on top for the overclock. The results were expected when competing against Quad core CPUs.
Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
Sandra tests a system as a whole so a user can get a better idea of the complete setup instead of individual components. Even though the E8500 was not as fast as the Q6600, for having less L2 cache and half of the cores, it was a strong fight.
Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison. Higher is better.
Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. The first two scores the higher scores are better, the last two lower is better.
Wow! Now here is a Dual Core giving a Quad Core a run for its money. In Sciencemark and Cinebench it took two thirds of the win. HDTune measures the hard drive performance so the numbers were close across the board. To recap on the scientific benchmarks, out of 32 tests run, the E8500 was either the winner or tied in 20 of them. Not bad when compared to Quad Core processors.
Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
Here in Crysis again the E8500 helped push out higher frame rates for this demanding game where the system as a whole is what makes the difference.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.
The settings we will use are below:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60HZ
Again, just like with Crysis, Knights of the Sea puts a hurt on a system when running this benchmark. But as before the E8500 comes out ahead.
BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync off
In what is one of the most intensive games I have seen, keeping pace with the Quad Core processors was a surprise due to the CPU usage during gameplay.
Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
Call of Duty, another popular first person shooter, the E8500 shows its true colors pushing the system to match the Q6600's performance.
World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.
The settings we will use are listed below:
- 0 X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail :Very High
In World of Conflict there were mixed results. On the lowest resolutions it fell behind the Q6600, but at higher resolutions it showed its potential, matching the Q6600 at the 1280x1024 mark and pulling ahead at 1680x1050.
Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and game play designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
The settings we will use are listed below.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
In Call of Juarez I saw the opposite of World in Conflict. Here when the E8500 was at stock speeds it lagged behind the other CPUs. Once overclocked, the comparison was a little closer even winning at the 1680x1050 mark.
Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)
Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.
- 8x AA
- All other settings to maximum
In Company of Heros: Opposing Forces the AMD offering finally showed up to play and took all three resolutions. Performance was equal to or better than the Q6600 in all three resolutions.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
3Dmark06 performance is commonly used as a point of reference when talking about gaming performance. The CPU score contributes heavily to the scoring in this benchmark. The E8500 with its 3.16GHz clock speed pulls out the win at all three resolutions. For the complete gaming benchmarks the E8500 only took 11 of the 27 scores, but came really close in the others. While not as fast as the Quad Cores, it was a strong contender.
Where can I begin about the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500? This processor is absolutely amazing. At stock speeds it blasts on the other Dual Core chips and puts up a noble fight with the Quad Core Q6600. Overclocked, this thing is a beast. I mean just look at the scores, it smokes the competition without even acknowledging that they were there. On the overclocking this has to be by far the easiest chip to overclock especially when paired up with Intel's X38 chipset. All of the tests were on a stock Intel heatsink and never got above 70 degrees Celsius, so with a high performance cooler or water cooling you have great overclocking potential still left with the E8500.
Is it as good as a Quad Core? Close, but not quite close enough, but for those that are not wanting to spend the money to jump into the Quad Core field, then the E8500 is for you. It gives you the best Dual Core performance for not a lot of money. This is a great processor for anyone from a hardcore gamer to a business professional needing the power for those multi-tasking programs. And if you are an overclocking enthusiast like myself, you will not be disappointed with the headroom that the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 provides.
- Overclocking ability
- Stock performance is outstanding
- Half multiplier for fine tuning on the overclocking
- 6MB of L2 Cache
- 45nm Manufacturing Process