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CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500

System Builder Marathon: $1,250 Enthusiast PC

Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 CPU

You asked for it, and here it is : the dual-core Core 2 Duo E8500, based on Intel’s 45 nm Wolfdale design. At under $200, the E8500 offers a stock speed of over 3 GHz and the overclocking potential to go much, much higher.

While it doesn’t offer four cores like the similarly-priced Q6600 seen last month, this shouldn’t affect too many of our benchmark applications, and it might not even have a big impact on the software you’re running at home. The Core 2 Duo E8500 will fall behind in situations where you’re doing a lot of media encoding or multi-tasking, but it should perform well in most games and day-to-day usage scenarios.

The real strength of the 45 nm Penryn processors like the E8500, however, is their huge overclocking potential. The E8500 doesn’t disappoint, either—more on that later.

Why didn’t we pay the extra money for the E8600 and instead opt for the E8500 ? Because the stock speed of both processors is pretty close (3.16 GHz vs. 3.33 GHz), and we don’t think the price premium of the E8600 is worth the slight chance that the overclock will go higher. In the end, we chose the E8500 for its degree of value, and we were glad we did.

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