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Clock Frequency vs. FSB Speed and L2 Cache Size

One of the main attractions of the Core 2 Duo E4400 processor is its price. The thing is that this processor working at 2.0GHz clock speed is at the very bottom of Intel’s price-list, below all Core 2 Duo E6000 processors. In other words, it costs even less than Core 2 Duo E6320 with lower clock frequency of 1.86GHz. Looks like Intel believed that 800MHz FSB and 2MB L2 cache would make Core 2 Duo E4400 slower than Core 2 Duo E6320.

However, we have our concerns regarding this. To prove one way or another we decided to compare the performance of the Core 2 Duo E4400 and Core 2 Duo E6320 in the popular applications:

Core 2 Duo E4400
2.0GHz, 2MB L2, 800MHz FSB

Core 2 Duo E6320
1.86GHz, 4MB L2, 1066MHz FSB

3DMark06

5830

5771

3DMark06, CPU

1663

1594

PCMark05

6079

6084

PCMark05, CPU

5039

4726

Word 2007 (Document Compare), sec

57

57

Excel 2007, sec

20.5

16.3

7-Zip 4.44, Compressing, KB/s

2605

2841

7-Zip 4.44, Decompressing, KB/s

19719

18455

MPEG-4 Encoding, AutoGK 2.4/Xvid 1.2, fps

28.68

28.36

H.264 Encoding, Apple Quicktime Pro 7, sec

531

564

mp3 Encoding, Apple iTunes 7, sec

168

178

Adobe Photoshop CS3 (ps7bench 2.0), sec

112

117

Windows Photo Gallery (Print), sec

34

35

Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, sec

259

269

Windows Movie Maker, sec

113

113

3ds Max 8 (Space Flyby), sec

283

297

CINEBENCH 9.5, Rendering

643

609

POV-Ray 3.7

775.2

722.8

Quake 4, 1024x768 High Quality

77.2

85.51

F.E.A.R., Medium Quality

89

98

Unreal Tournament 2004, 1024x768

71.5

71.6

Company of Heroes, 1024x768

106.1

108.2

Valve VRAD map build benchmark, sec

358

381

Valve Source Engine particle benchmark

28

31

Fritz 9 Chess Benchmark

2856

2734

The obtained results turned out pretty ambiguous. Core 2 Duo E6320 cannot boast any indisputable advantage over the cheaper Core 2 Duo E4400. There still are a lot of tasks where “pure” computational power of the CPU plays depending on its clock frequency the most important role. Among these tasks we can list image, sound and video editing applications as well as final rendering. In other words, Core 2 Duo E6320 is only faster than Core 2 Duo E4400 in office tasks and 3D games.

So, if you are looking for a low-cost dual-core processor from the Core 2 Duo family, you may face a relatively difficult task: you need to determine what type of applications you’ll be running most often on this system and what type of performance will be most critical for your needs. However, since Core 2 Duo E4400 is $30 cheaper than Core 2 Duo E6320, your choice may stay with the former even though it is not that fast in gaming applications.

Testbed and Methods

Massive price reduction and launch of the new low-cost Core 2 Duo processors are two remarkable events that can change the situation in the corresponding market segment dramatically. Therefore, we decided to perform a full round of benchmarks in the new Microsoft Windows Vista OS when Core 2 Duo E6420, E6320 and E4400 hit our lab. We will look at all dual-core processor models that will be priced below $200 this coming April. As a result, the complete list of our today’s testing participants included 18 processors from Athlon 64 X2, Core 2 Duo and Pentium D families, including Core 2 Duo E6600 and Athlon 64 X2 5000+, although their price is a little higher than the 200-dollar maximum we set.

Here is the list of all hardware including the full list of participating processors that was used in our test session:

  • CPUs:
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (Socket AM2, 2.6GHz, 2x512KB L2, Windsor );
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Socket AM2, 2.5GHz, 2x512KB L2, Brisbane);
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ (Socket AM2, 2.4GHz, 2x512KB L2, Windsor );
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (Socket AM2, 2.3GHz, 2x512KB L2, Brisbane);
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (Socket AM2, 2.2GHz, 2x512KB L2, Windsor );
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (Socket AM2, 2.1GHz, 2x512KB L2, Brisbane);
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (Socket AM2, 2.0GHz, 2x512KB L2, Windsor );
    • AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ (Socket AM2, 1.9GHz, 2x512KB L2, Brisbane);
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (LGA775, 2.4GHz, 1067MHz FSB, 4MB L2, Conroe );
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (LGA775, 2.13GHz, 1067MHz FSB, 4MB L2, Conroe );
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (LGA775, 2.13GHz, 1067MHz FSB, 2MB L2, Allendale);
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 (LGA775, 1.86GHz, 1067MHz FSB, 4MB L2, Conroe );
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (LGA775, 1.86GHz, 1067MHz FSB, 2MB L2, Allendale);
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 (LGA775, 2.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2MB L2, Allendale);
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 (LGA775, 1.8GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2MB L2, Allendale);
    • Pentium D 945 (LGA775, 3.4GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2x2MB L2, Presler);
    • Pentium D 935 (LGA775, 3.2GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2x2MB L2, Presler);
    • Pentium D 925 (LGA775, 3.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2x2MB L2, Presler).
  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe (Socket AM2, NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI);
    • ASUS P5N-E SLI (LGA775, NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI).
  • Memory: 2048MB DDR2-800 SDRAM (Mushkin XP2-6400PRO , 2 x 1024 MB , DDR2-800, 4-4-4-12);
  • Graphics card: PowerColor X1900 XTX 512MB;
  • HDD: Western Digital WD1500AHFD.
  • OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit).

We ran the tests with the BIOS Setup of the mainboards adjusted for maximum performance.

 
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