The new CPUs
With Core 2ís introduction, Intelís unveiling a slew of new CPUs ranging in price from $183 all the way up to $999. The following chart summarizes the feature set of the new processors, as well as their pricing:
|Intel CPU Pricing Effective 7/23/06|
|Processor #||Clock Speed (GHz)||FSB||Cache||Packaging||Bulk Price|
|Core 2 EE X6800||2.93||1066||4MB||LGA775||$999|
|Core 2 Duo E6700||2.67||1066||4MB||LGA775||$530|
|Core 2 Duo E6600||2.4||1066||4MB||LGA775||$316|
|Core 2 Duo E6400||2.13||1066||2MB||LGA775||$224|
|Core 2 Duo E6300||1.86||1066||2MB||LGA775||$183|
|Pentium D 945||3.4||800||2x2MB||LGA775||$163|
|Pentium D 915||2.8||800||2x2MB||LGA775||$133|
|Pentium D 820||2.8||800||2x1MB||LGA775||$113|
|Pentium D 805||2.66||533||2x1MB||LGA775||$93|
As you can see, the Core 2 Extreme Edition X6800 is Intelís new flagship part, commanding a $999 price tag. The chip boasts a 1066MHz bus speed and 4MB L2 cache, and like the Extreme Edition 965 it ships with an unlocked clock multiplier, allowing enthusiasts to overclock the chip via front-side bus and the CPUís multiplier. This should help tweakers fine tune the CPUs speed even further when overclocking. Other than the higher clock speeds and unlocked multiplier though, the Core 2 Extreme Edition is the same basic chip as the 4MB L2 Core 2 Duo, Intel doesnít endow it with any other additional features.
The Core 2 Duo E6700 is Intelís highest-end Core 2 Duo CPU. The chip boasts a 1,066MHz FSB, 4MB L2 cache, and runs at 2.67GHz. Most importantly though for those of you on a budget, the chip sells for nearly half the price of an Extreme Edition X6800.
The Core 2 CPU up close
Back of the processor
At the lower end of the Core 2 Duo spectrum are the E6400 and E6300 CPUs. These chips feature all the innovations found in higher-end Core 2 CPUs, only they ship at slower clock speeds and only contain half the L2 cache, 2MB versus the 4MB found in the more expensive Core 2 CPUs. Coming in at $224 and $183 though, these chips are much more affordable, particularly for a next-gen CPU, and we have a feeling theyíll probably be popular among enthusiasts on a budget. With its $316 price tag and 4MB L2 cache, the Core 2 Duo E6600 may also be a popular option for a lot of people.
Since theyíre based on the same LGA775 packaging as the Pentium 4/Pentium D, Core 2 chips look physically indistinguishable from the older Pentium CPUs. To ease the transition to Core 2, many, but not all 975X motherboards are also compatible with the new CPUs, some with just a simple BIOS update. Motherboard manufacturers are quickly replacing their early non-compatible 975X motherboards with newer 975X motherboards that are ready for Core 2, so youíll want to read the CPU compatibility list of any prospective 975X motherboard you may be considering carefully.
Our Core 2 platform used for testing
For chipsets, besides the 975X, Intelís just released their P965 chipset, which is ready for Core 2. P965 offers several new features, including a new ICH8 South Bridge that features 6 3Gb/sec Serial ATA ports, Intel HD Audio, and 10 USB ports, but unlike 975X, the P965 chipset doesnít support ATIís CrossFire multi-GPU technology. This is because P965 is intended for the mainstream market, while 975X is for enthusiasts. ATI will also be releasing their next-generation RD600 chipset sometime in the late August/early September timeframe for Core 2.
On NVIDIAís side, like 975X, nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition is technically Core 2-ready, although many early motherboards donít offer the voltages necessary to support the new CPU and thus motherboard manufacturers have to replace their original boards with newer ones that are compatible with Core 2. ASUS for example is releasing their P5N32-SLI SE Deluxe to the market as we speak. Core 2 motherboards based on NVIDIAís nForce 570 SLI and nForce 590 SLI are in the works from ASUS, DFI, ECS, and others and should begin hitting the market at the end of this month or the middle of August. Weíve been told that Dellís XPS 700 for instance, will be powered by nForce 590 SLI.
In terms of cooling, existing coolers can also be used with Core 2. For our CPU testing, we used an off the shelf Zalman CNPS7700-Cu with Core 2 without running into any problems.