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Intel's Core 2 Duo processor has prompted a positive response among users and international media since its introduction in July 2006. The Core 2 Duo outperforms AMD's Athlon 64 X2 clock for clock in most benchmarks, and it even consumes less energy than AMD's offerings. Intel is finally filing away its Pentium 4 past, which suffered from the painful decease of the NetBurst microarchitecture. The firm had to start from scratch, it did, and it came up with the best product. Although AMD has begun shipping 65 nm products, its answer to Core 2 Duo isn't expected before the middle of the year. Until then, Core 2 Duo is it.
The amazing part about Core 2's success story is the impact that it has had since it was introduced: from one day to the next, many people switched from AMD to Intel. This makes unmistakably evident the fact that there is no brand loyalty whatsoever in this industry, even though people tend to sympathize with underdogs, as many did with AMD only few years ago. This also makes clear that there is always room for innovation: anyone who comes out with the right product gets a chance, even if it's Intel after failing to replace its obsolete NetBurst processor design in time.
But what exactly is the right product? In the processor world, the right product appeals to almost everyone by being fast, efficient and affordable. It also has to offer additional benefits, such as a nice margin for overclocking, because that's what people do to save money and squeeze the most performance out of their hardware. Core 2 Duo is based on a well-designed microarchitecture and is manufactured using the latest 65 nm process, which gave Intel quite a head start over AMD. This becomes obvious when looking at overclocking results: all of the Core 2 Duo X6800 samples that we had in our test labs were effortlessly able to overclock from 2.93 GHz to 3.46 GHz, and many of the regular Core 2 Duo models run at least 3 GHz as well. Clearly, Intel laid out its Core 2 specifications for ideal efficiency, not for performance.
Let's see what we can squeeze out of the entry-level processor Core 2 Duo E6300. Many people reported 450-480 MHz FSB speeds with current P965 motherboards, so let's see if we can beat that.