Pros: 45nm die means lower power consumption and less heat
Cons: Most motherboards cannot overclock this processor due to 1333 FSB chipset restrictions
The Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 is an impressive processor that defies conventional thinking by delivering top notch, dual core performance. The technical specifications of this product reveal that a monster is living inside this little unassuming hunk of metal and carbon. First, the Core 2 Duo, Wolfdale processor core has 6Mb of cache on the chip. Next, each processor has 32Kb of Level 1 instruction cache to reduce the number of memory calls to your RAM. Finally, the processor has a bus speed of 1333Mhz which is almost double that of the earlier Intel Pentium D 915 processor which was one of the first dual core’s available on the Socket 775 series.
My favorite hobby has been participating in the SETI project sponsored by Berkley. The project is very competitive and requires you to stay on the forefront of computer technology in order to compete with the thousands of computers that are also processing workunits. With the release of the Intel I7 chipset, the prices of Socket 775 processors have dropped significantly in price. The market has now opened up to budget computer builders and a good processor like the Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 can be bought on Ebay for less than $120. I bought the 3.333 Mhz Dual Core processor with the single goal of building a system and attaching it to the SETI project indefinitely.
Since the processor also supports Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T), you can easily install Windows Vista 64bit with it. Currently, only graphics professionals and performance computing enthusiasts are the only one’s seeing any real gains with 64bit technology but in the next few years you can expect to see more applications go down this road.
The 45nm processor with an overwhelming 6Mb of cache running on the stock CPU cooler was only able to reach a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit while benchmark testing the system. The test system was simply a motherboard on my home office desk with two sticks of 400Mhz DDR2 RAM in dual channel mode and a Patriot 32Gb SSD drive handling the Windows XP NTFS file system. I have seen computers in full desktop towers with high performance processors reach temperatures as high as 177 degrees Fahrenheit. The 45nm manufacturing process ensures that you can experience high performance with little heat. Even the slow Intel Celeron 356 reaches temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit!
To give you an idea of the performance of this processor, I used three different benchmarks: Super Pi, BOINC Manager and MCS 2008 CPU benchmark. Each of these benchmarks stresses unique aspects of the processor and are heavily dependent on the supporting hardware around the processor like the memory, hard drive and motherboard chipset. The benchmark system was a MSI MS-7528 motherboard with this processor installed. The motherboard features, DDR2, dual channel memory architecture and a faster Intel based G31 chipset which can handle front side bus speeds as high as 1333 FSB. The motherboard chipset is very important because most chipsets in the socket 775 series support dual channel memory and can even pull fewer watts of power to increase the reliability of the system as a whole.
Super Pi V1.1 is an application that extrapolates the specified digits of PI into a text file. Since the task is both processor and file system intensive it can give you an idea of how fast your cpu is. Processors with large on-die cache sizes and high bus speeds tend to do better in this benchmark. The problem is the calculation is single threaded in this version so you only see the performance of one processor.
Here are the results of three runs to 1,000,000 digits on the MSI MS-7258 motherboard:
The Boinc Manager benchmark is designed to stress every available thread on your computer to see how many computations per second it can perform. With the results, the Boinc Manager automatically assigns distributed computing projects to your processors. The benchmark has been improved by scholars at academic institutions over the period of several years and is now a very reliable metric of modern computing performance.
Here are the results of three runs on the MSI MS-7258 motherboard:
#1; 3536 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7190 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#2; 3540 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7203 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
#3; 3540 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 7233 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu
The MCS CPU Benchmark 2008 will test the entire system to give you an overall score based on CPU and file system performance.
Here are the results of three runs on the MSI MS-7258 motherboard:
The 6Mb cache size does play a part in the high scores. For example, an Intel Pentium D 915 processor with 2x2mb of cache in the same MSI MS-7528 motherboard crunches Super Pi in 44 seconds and has an MCS score of 6712. However, you would expect the dual core friendly MCS benchmark to be close to 8000 but since both the processors on the Pentium D 915 are starved for memory bandwidth they could not peak out to their maximum theoretical power. The 1333 Mhz bus speed of the E8600 gives it the extra push to power through memory intensive applications.
Another handy comparison would be the Intel Celeron 356 processor in the same motherboard, overclocked to a blistering 4.2Ghz. Using the Boinc Benchmark, the Celeron could only get a result of 2175 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per cpu, 3332 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per cpu.
Processor Core: Wolfdale
Manufacturing Process: 0.045 micron
CPU Cores: 2
Frequency (Mhz): 3333
Bus Speed (Mhz): 1333
Clock Multiplier (Mhz): 10
Dimensions: 1.48” x 1.48”
Socket 775 (FC-LGA4)
Data width: 64 bit
Level 1 cache size: 2x32 kb data cache
Level 2 cache size: shared 6Mb kb 8-way set associative cache
Instruction sets: MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, Supplemental SSE3, SSE4.1
Part Numbers: SLB9L, QHEX, BX80570E8600, AT80570PJ0936M
The E8600’s 1333 front side bus translates into amazing Windows XP performance that becomes quickly evident while browsing webpages. If you wish to play video games on your computer or attempt programming an application in Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, the Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 is for you. No other processor in the Socket 775 form factor that I have tested has performed faster in Super Pi and Boinc benchmark than this one. I have even tested a quad cord processor but could not reach the same speeds in the MSI motherboard.
The 3.333Ghz Intel E8600 Socket 775 is a hard processor to overclock because your motherboard chipset needs to support 1600 front side bus speeds. I have been able to verify that only special variants of the Intel G31 chipset (a microATX, low power release by Intel) will not support overclocking of the E8600 processor. When you attempt to overclock the FSB, the system will hang up requiring a reset of the BIOS.
I am torn between giving this product 5 stars for performance due to its incredible benchmark results and 4 stars for its relatively challenged overclocking capability. Remember, this is the lowest cost for performance of any Socket 775 product available today. Achieving just 100 degrees Fareheit while under the load of crunching SETI workunits is even more remarkable. If you want to have fun building a new PC or just upgrading an older computer , I would pick up this processor today on Ebay with a 400Mhz DDR2, dual channel memory, micro ATX motherboard!