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[CPU] Is L2 cache more important than more clockspeed?

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September 9, 2010 3:40:12 AM

People are telling me that if I went from a E2160 to a E5500 I wouldn't see much of an increase even though it's 1 GHz after and 1 more MB of L2 cache.

They are telling me I need to get off the pentium dual core and switch to a Core2Duo with 4 or 6 MBs of L2 cache before I'd notice an increase worth the money?

Is that so? Also, before you ask:

I can not spend more than $80.
I have to have a FSB of 800 MHz
I can NOT support a Quad.
I can NOT overclock on a dell motherboard.
I will have to reuse my dell cooler instead of Intel's retail cooler.
a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 3:59:06 AM

Going from just a Pentium Dual-Core to a Core 2 Duo will give a nice increase in speed with a 4MB L2 cache or a 6MB L2 cache.

But the cache speed is quite important and normally will help the IPC of the CPU more than the size difference.

The difference in the L2 cache sizes you are asking about are more than just the cache size itself. A Core 2 Duo with 4MB of L2 Cache was based on the first desktop Core based CPU codenamed 'Conroe' which was a 65nm CPU. The Core 2 Duo with a 6MB of L2 cache was based on the second generation 45nm code named 'Penryn'.

In short, the 6MB L2 cache Core 2 Duo thats 45nms will be a better overall performer by about 10-15%:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...

The link goes to two Core 2 Duos in comparison. The left on the comparison is a Core 2 Duo E8200 @ 2.66GHz 6MB L2 cache which is a 45nm part. The right column is a Core 2 Duo E6750 @ 2.66Ghz 4MB L2 cachewhich is a 65nm part.

As you can see, the Core 2 Duo E8200 beats the Core 2 Duo E6750 in pretty much every benchmark by a good margin and they are at the same clock speed.

Add to that that a Core 2 Duo @ 45nm will run cooler and use less power and you have a winner.

But there are no 45nm Core 2 Duos with a 800MHz FSB. They can downclock to it but your mobo might support the CPUs and their FSB without you knowing it. Know your mobo model?
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a b à CPUs
September 9, 2010 4:03:02 AM

Quote: "People are telling me that if I went from a E2160 to a E5500 I wouldn't see much of an increase even though it's 1 GHz after and 1 more MB of L2 cache."

I think that's a load of crap. You WILL notice a performance difference between the two. Cache is a great deal less important than clock speed. And most modern games recommend at least a dual core at 2.4 Ghz.

Case in point, the AMD Athlon II CPU's have a small (2Mb or less) L2 cache and no L3 cache. The phenoim II's have an L3 cache, the quad cores have 6Mb. Yet every month, there are Athlon II's being recommended in Tom's "Best CPU's for the money" article every month. Why? Because they are the best performers in their price range.

I would say that maybe even architecture is more important than cache. However, I am an enthusiast and I do alot of multitasking so I go for the biggest cache, fastest clock rate and most overclock-able chip.

Bottom line; yes it is a worthwhile upgrade.
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September 9, 2010 4:03:45 AM

jimmysmitty said:
Going from just a Pentium Dual-Core to a Core 2 Duo will give a nice increase in speed with a 4MB L2 cache or a 6MB L2 cache.

But the cache speed is quite important and normally will help the IPC of the CPU more than the size difference.

The difference in the L2 cache sizes you are asking about are more than just the cache size itself. A Core 2 Duo with 4MB of L2 Cache was based on the first desktop Core based CPU codenamed 'Conroe' which was a 65nm CPU. The Core 2 Duo with a 6MB of L2 cache was based on the second generation 45nm code named 'Penryn'.

In short, the 6MB L2 cache Core 2 Duo thats 45nms will be a better overall performer by about 10-15%:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-q...

The link goes to two Core 2 Duos in comparison. The left on the comparison is a Core 2 Duo E8200 @ 2.66GHz 6MB L2 cache which is a 45nm part. The right column is a Core 2 Duo E6750 @ 2.66Ghz 4MB L2 cachewhich is a 65nm part.

As you can see, the Core 2 Duo E8200 beats the Core 2 Duo E6750 in pretty much every benchmark by a good margin and they are at the same clock speed.

Add to that that a Core 2 Duo @ 45nm will run cooler and use less power and you have a winner.

But there are no 45nm Core 2 Duos with a 800MHz FSB. They can downclock to it but your mobo might support the CPUs and their FSB without you knowing it. Know your mobo model?


The E5500 is also a 45nm wolfdale. The E2160 is a conroe.
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September 9, 2010 4:08:46 AM

buzznut said:
Quote: "People are telling me that if I went from a E2160 to a E5500 I wouldn't see much of an increase even though it's 1 GHz after and 1 more MB of L2 cache."

I think that's a load of crap. You WILL notice a performance difference between the two. Cache is a great deal less important than clock speed. And most modern games recommend at least a dual core at 2.4 Ghz.

Case in point, the AMD Athlon II CPU's have a small (2Mb or less) L2 cache and no L3 cache. The phenoim II's have an L3 cache, the quad cores have 6Mb. Yet every month, there are Athlon II's being recommended in Tom's "Best CPU's for the money" article every month. Why? Because they are the best performers in their price range.

I would say that maybe even architecture is more important than cache. However, I am an enthusiast and I do alot of multitasking so I go for the biggest cache, fastest clock rate and most overclock-able chip.

Bottom line; yes it is a worthwhile upgrade.



So I should probably go ahead and do it? You are right most games don't like the CPU, specially Unreal 3.

I have a 4670 right now, that also isn't the 'best', but I'm waiting on the drop in prices when ATi releases 6000 series GPUs.

Do I have to worry about the cooler? I heard since it's the same TDP the E2160 and the E5500 (65 watts) will be fine using the dell stock cooler ?
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a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 4:09:07 AM

The 5500 then would give you a very nice performance boost. I would go for it.
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September 9, 2010 4:12:49 AM

jimmysmitty said:
The 5500 then would give you a very nice performance boost. I would go for it.


Alright. Being this would be my first CPU upgrade, do I want:

Gel, paste, or silver ?

And how do I apply it? Some say spread it, others say put a rice size and leave it putting the heatsink on and letting it spread it itself ?

Also how do I get the old off? Most say rubbing alcohol will do the trick ?
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a b à CPUs
September 9, 2010 4:25:59 AM

Name141 said:
Alright. Being this would be my first CPU upgrade, do I want:

Gel, paste, or silver ?

And how do I apply it? Some say spread it, others say put a rice size and leave it putting the heatsink on and letting it spread it itself ?

Also how do I get the old off? Most say rubbing alcohol will do the trick ?


Yes remove with rubbing alcohol and wipe clean with a lint free towel.
Two ways to apply. the rice grain size drop in the middle of the CPU heatshild, then place the heatsink on top and lock it down.

Squeeze out the same rice grain drop, use a finger inside a plastic bag to spread a very thin leyer across the heatshield. The put on heatsink.
I use a paintbrush.

I always go with AS5, it hasn't failed me yet.
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a c 81 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 4:36:53 AM

Well, the cache size cannot be increased.. Overclocking can bring higher clock speeds.. On that analogy, cache becomes more important when compared to the clock speed..
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September 9, 2010 4:54:29 AM

buzznut said:
Yes remove with rubbing alcohol and wipe clean with a lint free towel.
Two ways to apply. the rice grain size drop in the middle of the CPU heatshild, then place the heatsink on top and lock it down.

Squeeze out the same rice grain drop, use a finger inside a plastic bag to spread a very thin leyer across the heatshield. The put on heatsink.
I use a paintbrush.

I always go with AS5, it hasn't failed me yet.


It seems I will have to buy a retail box Intel anyway. OEM's wont have the 3 year Intel warranty.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That seems to be the best deal really. The E5500 is almost $9 more.

I'll see if i can squeeze it in to the budget. If not, I'm not going to cause Portal2 is coming out next year and I must have that :o 

And by lint free, you mean coffee filter ?
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a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 4:59:14 AM

^I understand about Portal 2. It looks to have a major upgrade to Source.
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September 9, 2010 5:08:26 AM

jimmysmitty said:
^I understand about Portal 2. It looks to have a major upgrade to Source.


Yeah. I think I can still play it since I can play Half-Life2:EP2 8x AA and that stuff that makes it look better that I can't remember at distances at 4x (subtropical something or other?)
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a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 5:53:45 AM

AA is Anti Aliasinf and the other is Anisotropic Filtering.

And I doubt Portal 2 will need anything new or current to play happily. VALVe probably wont require that kind of hardware until they release Source 2.0 with Half Life 3.....
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September 9, 2010 6:14:44 AM

jimmysmitty said:
AA is Anti Aliasinf and the other is Anisotropic Filtering.

And I doubt Portal 2 will need anything new or current to play happily. VALVe probably wont require that kind of hardware until they release Source 2.0 with Half Life 3.....


Okie dokey.

I'll try going for the E5400 then. Also, do you think , or anyone, think I will have a problem with my screw based cooler using it on the new CPU?

http://www.newgeardeals.com/dell-inspiron-530-531-vostr...
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a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2010 6:25:05 AM

It wont have any problems. The cooler you are using is going to be made for 65nm CPUs and will be much bigger than one that comes with the 45nm CPU.

As for the CPUs, you wont be able to tell the difference between them except for the lable etched onto the heat spreader.
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September 9, 2010 8:09:49 AM

jimmysmitty said:
It wont have any problems. The cooler you are using is going to be made for 65nm CPUs and will be much bigger than one that comes with the 45nm CPU.

As for the CPUs, you wont be able to tell the difference between them except for the lable etched onto the heat spreader.


Alright. So this sounds pretty easy to me.

Of course, everything does till you start doing it. I had to pull like heck to get off the main connector when I was replacing the dell Bestek power supply with a Corsair 400 watt.
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