Does Cache Size Really Boost Performance?

Core 2 Duo Variants

Intel has a plethora of desktop processors on the market. While there are still some Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors around, the majority builds on the Core micro-architecture. We clearly recommend against purchasing any Pentium 4 or Pentium D processor, although their clock speeds of up to 3.8 GHz may look attractive. Any Core 2 processor at 2.2 GHz and up is capable of beating even the fastest Pentium D models (so does the Athlon 64 X2), because Core 2 offers much better performance per clock. Have a look at our CPU Charts to compare Pentium D and Core 2 Duo processors along with most AMD CPUs.

Thanks to its lower clock speed levels, Core 2 is more energy efficient. While the Pentium D 800 top models used to eat up to 130 W, only a Core 2 Extreme quad core can exceed 100 W. All dual-core processors are rated at 65 W. In addition, the idle power requirement of a Core 2 Duo processor is even lower, which is also due to the reduced idle clock speed (max. 1.2 GHz for Core 2 Duo/Quad versus 2.8 GHz for Pentium D/4 processors). The reduced power consumption is also made possible by improved transistor designs with reduced leakage current.

Right now, there are E and X models available. E represents the mainstream processors while X stands for Extreme Editions. A Q stands for a quad core, which Intel builds by putting two dual-core dies into one physical processor package. E6000 processors have 4 MB L2 cache if their model number is >E6400, or if it ends on -20 (e.g. E6320). Models ending on -00 (e.g. E6600) run at 266 MHz system clock speed (FSB1066), while the -50 parts (E6750) are specified for 333 MHz (FSB1333). The latter requires a P35 or X38 chipset and delivers marginally better performance. E4000 runs at 200 MHz system speed (FSB800) and only has 2 MB L2 cache. The 1 MB versions are being sold as Pentium Dual Core E2140, E2160 and E2180, running at 1.6 to 2.0 GHz. Apart from the name and some features that Intel disabled for the low-cost models, these Pentium Dual Cores are identical to Core 2 Duo devices.

Processor Number
65 nm
Cache Clock Speed Front Side Bus Virtualization Technology Trusted Execution Technology
E6850 4 MB L2 3 GHz 333 MHz X X
E6750 4 MB L2 2.66 GHz 333 MHz X X
E6700 4 MB L2 2.66 GHz 266 MHz X  
E6600 4 MB L2 2.40 GHz 266 MHz X  
E6550 4 MB L2 2.33 GHz 333 MHz X X
E6540 4 MB L2 2.33 GHz 333 MHz X  
E6420 4 MB L2 2.13 GHz 266 MHz X  
E6400 2 MB L2 2.13 GHz 266 MHz X  
E6320 4 MB L2 1.86 GHz 266 MHz X  
E6300 2 MB L2 1.86 GHz 266 MHz X  
E4600 2 MB L2 2.40 GHz 200 MHz    
E4500 2 MB L2 2.20 GHz 200 MHz    
E4400 2 MB L2 2 GHz 200 MHz    
E4300 2 MB L2 1.80 GHz 200 MHz    
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8 comments
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  • enzo matrix
    this is awesome
    0
  • Mousemonkey
    Anonymous said:
    this is awesome

    It's taken you two years for that? :p
    1
  • HansVonOhain
    Great article. :D
    0
  • Anonymous
    I like, it was helpfull read. no one could addord core 2 duo's in 2007 now we can, I didnt see yourcomment in 2007 HansVonOhain.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I really loved this article.

    Thx "tomshardware" :)
    0
  • Anonymous
    Memory were all so cheap all of a suddenly
    0
  • blueme
    Nice review!

    ~3 years ago I had the E8300 2.83 Ghz with 6MB cache for ~200$
    Now I have the E3200 with 1MB cache, overclocked at 2.88 for 20$

    The performance difference is negligible at best, especially considering the price. And although the E8400 doesn't cost that much, it's still around ~80$ used.
    0
  • isidroco
    I disagree with the conclusion, CACHE size does NOT matter, most cases are with less than 10% (with a max of 15% in winrar) difference between 1mb and 4mb. 10% is too little to be noticed in real world applications, there is no difference in waiting 9 or 10 seconds...
    0