Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Review and Overclocking Analysis

Author: William Henning
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/core2duo_e4300/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

2006 was a very interesting year for the PC market.

On July 14, 2006, Intel took the "Fastest Gaming Processor" crown away from AMD. I was just as surprised as everyone else; until I'd started testing the chip myself, I had found the leaked numbers hard to believe. But Intel pulled it off; the microarchitecture of the Core 2 Duo is so excellent that it can overcome (to a large extent) the crippling limitations placed on it by an 800MHz-1066MHz FSB.

In the months since then, Intel has introduced the XE6800,  E6600, then the 2MB cache E6400 and E6300, and most recently the quad core QX6700 and Q6600. AMD has been unable to respond yet, other than the re-labeling some high speed socket F Opteron's as "FX-74/FX-72/FX-70" procesoors, sold in pairs for their "4x4" platform.

Intel is also going for the dual core low end now, an area currently dominated by the AMD 3800 X2 and 4200 X2 processors.

The E4300 (and soon to be released E4400) are based on the new Allendale core, and as such, have 2MB of cache allowing a smaller die - which results in more chips per wafer - than the E6300 and E6400, which have half of their 4MB of L2 cache disabled.

I have great hopes for this chip, and I've been looking forward to putting it through its paces.

In order that you can see how it places "on the totem pole", I've gone overboard, and included a very large number of past results - and I ended up comparing it to the following list of dual core processors:

And from the competition...

As some of the older chips will have been benchmarked with older drivers, there will be a small variation in the older results due to drivers; however the differences ought to be small.

When Intel replaces the E6300 and E6400 with the upcoming E6320 and E6420, they will stop disabling half the cache on those chips, so all 6xxx series Core 2 Duo's will then have 4MB of L2 cache.

The lower end E4xxx range of processors will be distinguished from the E6xxx series of processors by only having 2MB of L2 cache, 800MHz FSB, and having VT support disabled.

Given that the E4300 has a physically smaller die, runs at a lower default Vcore and having a maximum 9x multiplier, it should be a pretty good overclocker - but exactly how good? We will see, because I'm going to take this E4300 and overclock it to its absolute limit!

 

Test Setup

In order to keep the testing as fair as possible, we will use the following test platform:

For the Athlon 64 4200 X2::

Benchmarks

Software used during testing consisted of the following:

NOTE

The chart labels incorporate a lot of information about the test configuration. The first line shows the model of the processor. All processors are multi-core devices.

The second line shows the "FSB/HT clock rate" x "CPU multiplier"  and the effective DDR memory speed. Please note that all DDR2 tests were run at 4-4-4-12 timings where possible.

Ok, enough talking about the basics... let's get on with the testing!

 

PC Magazine Business / Multimedia Winstone

Admittedly, the Business Winstone benchmarks are getting a bit long in the tooth, but they are still a good benchmark for "business" usage - and we have a large database of results to compare against.

Business Winstone

Here we can clearly see how superior the Core 2 architecture is to any previous Intel dual core offering - as it handily beats a 2.66GHz 805, a 3GHz 930D and a 3.2GHz 840 D - however we also see that the AMD X2's are an excellent value for general use / business machnes - with the significantly less expensive 3800+ X2 and the comparably priced 4200+ X2 signifiantly beating the Intel E4300. Note how the FX-62 beats all the tested Intel chips here.

Content Creation

We have almost the same situation for Content Creation as we had for Business Winstone - except that the 3.2GHz 840 D managed to beat the 1.8GHz E4300 here. The AMD 3800+ X2 and 4200+ X2 again handily beat the E4300, again proving that for business/general desktop usage they are a better value than the E4300. Again, the FX-62 beats all the tested Intel chips here.

 

Sandra

In order to be able to compare to older processors, I used Sandra 2004 results for this review.

For the processor benchmark, again we see the Intel E4300 beating previous generation Intel dual core chips; and for Sandra, it even beats the AMD AM2 3800+ X2 and AM2 4200+ X2 for integer performance, but loses to the low end AMD dual cores for floating point and SSE2 performance.

The Sandra memory performance of the E4300 is actually very poor, only the Intel 805 D had a worse result. The cheapter AM2 3800+ X2 and similarly priced 4200+ X2 beat it here rather badly, with the 4200+ X2 beating it by a whopping 28.7%

WinRAR

The Intel E4300 does much better in WinRAR, beating previous generation Intel dual core processors and the cheaper and similarly priced AM2 processors. The vastly improved integer core really helps here.

WinRAR MT

There is no other way to put it - the E4300 is simply spanked here by higher end Core 2 Duo and Quad chips. The Core 2 Quad manages to be  essentially twice as fast.  This isn't a big problem since the other chips are targetted for more expensive price ranges but it does put your expectations here in persepective. Sorry, we don't have more WinRAR MT results at this time.

 

RightMark Read

As we would expect, the Intel E4300 does very poorly here, only beating the Intel 805 D.

RightMark Write

Again, the Intel E4300 does very poorly here, only beating the Intel 805 D.

 

RightMark Latency

The E4300 manages to take the last place, this time its even beat out by the 805 D!

RightMark Bandwidth

The Intel E4300 manages to somewhat redeem itself here, as it beats previous generation Intel dual core chips, as well as the AMD 3800+ X2, 4200+ X2 and even the 5000+ X2.

 

LAME MP3

The Intel E4300 does acceptably well here given its price, beating previous generation dual core Intel chips and the AMD X2 3800+ and X2 4200+.

Ofcourse it gets spanked by the higher end Core 2 Duo's.

TMPGEnc

The E4300 appears to be a decent value for encoding, again it beats older Intel chips, as well as comparably or lower priced AMD AM2 chips.

 

CineBench

The Intel E4300 performs as we would expect here, beating the previous generation Intel's, and being slightly outperformed by the comparably priced AMD X2 4200+ probably due to its somewhat higher speed FPU.

POV-Ray

Here the E4300 even manages to beat the similarly priced AMD 4200+ X2.

 

Doom 3

The Intel E4300 did pretty good here, given its price - it beat older Intel chips, and even an AMD AM2 5000+ X2!

Mind you, the higher FSB speed of the E6400 gave it a better than 10% performance advantage; once again proving that the current Intel architecture is severely FSB constrained. When will CSI finally show up?

Commanche 4

For Commanche, the E4300 beat the older Intel chips and the lower priced AMD 3800+ X2, however it was edged out by the 4200+ X2.

Call of Duty

The Intel E4300 did surprisingly well here, it even managed to outperform a stock E6400! I'm guessing that happened due to improved drivers.

Halo

The E4300 does well for its price here, even beating an AMD 5000+ X2.

 

Jedi Knight

The Intel E4300 again beats even the AMD 5000+ X2.

Unreal Tournament 2004

For UT, the comparably priced AMD 4200+ X2 edges out the E4300.

Overclocking

For the overclocked results, I decided it was time to publish another "roundup" of results - so you can see the stock and overclocked results for a large number of processors in the following tables.

I think you will like the results - the E4300 turned out to be an excellent overclocker, as I expected it would be.

Doom 3

Ah, the benchmark that may never die... note how well the overclocked E4300 performs.

Yes, your math is correct. I got the E4300 up to 3.60GHz! A 100% overclock!

More on that later :)

WinRAR

Running the FSB at a higher rate, and the higher core speed, make a HUGE impact on WinRAR. The numbers speak for themselves, but just in case you miss it - three of the overclocked results even beat the stock quad core QX6700!

Ok, the multi-threaded results show that the QX6700 can beat the lower end Core 2's quite handily - even at stock compared to dual cores overclocked.

Overclocking Part 2

Yet more overclocked results...

Sandra CPU

The Intel E4300 does extremely well here, INCREDIBLY well if you consider its price.

The fact that Sandra 2004 is not a great processor benchmark for todays generation of multi-core processors is offset by the fact that any error would be similar for all the chips - so the results on this chart should be pretty comparable.

Sandra Memory Bandwidth

Oh my.

The E4300 managed to take first place.

Overclocking Part 3

RightMark Read

I certainly did not expect this result - however the numbers don't lie; the combination of 9x multiplier and 1600MHz FSB with excellent memory timings meant that the overclocked Intel E4300 took first place here again, beating out our heavyweight hitters like the max overclocked Quad Core QX6700, overclocked FX-62 and overclocked E6400.

RightMark Write

The E4300 did quite well here, especially considering its price - however the similarly priced AMD 4200+ X2 did beat it.

RightMark Latency

All of the AMD chips beat all of the Intel chips. NOT a surprise. When will Intel finally give us CSI and an integrated memory controller?

Overclocking & Conclusion

Only one more overclocked chart left :)

RightMark Bandwidth

I was VERY surprised to see the Intel E4300 win here; frankly I've never been comfortable with the RightMark memory bandwidth numbers, somehow it does not make sense to me that chips that don't do well in the individual benchmarks - read, write, latency - can end up doing well in the bandwidth benchmark.

What settings did I use to reach 3.6Ghz with the E4300?

But what is truly impressive is that the chip was stable at stock voltages at 3.2GHz (400x8) with the stock cooler!

It was also stable at 3.42GHz with a Noctua at 1.575Vcore.

Conclusion

We'd like to thank NCIX.com for helping us get a E4300 for this review. 

If you go by "stock" speed vs. maximum stable overclock, the Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 is THE BEST overclock I've ever achieved.

A true 100% overclock.

Running a 1.8GHz chip at 3.6GHz pleases me to no end.  And remember, this is a 100% stable result with the system running over 20-30hrs as we continuosly run benchmark after benchmark on it.

But wait...

We normally only report stable results - but I just had to include the below CPUZ screen capture of the highest unstable result where I was able to boot into Windows and run CPUZ :)

This was at 1.7Vcore; and kids, don't try this at home without at least some very good water cooling.

The E4300 is the best bang for the buck for an overclocking chip I've had the pleasure to work with to date. I'm getting one personally.

Intel has a sure fire winner on its hands, and it is an even better chip for enthusiasts than the 805 D that we first found to be an awesome overclocker. Personally, I prefer the E4300 to an E6400 even though I've managed to overclock the E6400 somewhat higher as you can achieve huge overclocks with more reasonably priced memory and motherboards. Spend the difference on superior cooling :)

I mean, seriously... here is a chip selling for $180 or so, nominally rated for 1.8GHz, that will out of the box run at up to 3.2GHz with stock cooling and stock Vcore. Add a nice Noctua 12, and a decent motherboard, and 3.4GHz should be attainable for most people. That is an incredible amount of bang for your buck.

 

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