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After much hype and anticipation, the new Intel Core 2 Duo processors are now available in stores with prices starting at $180 all through $530. You can now also find motherboards featuring Intel's newest P965 Express chipset becoming more readily available starting at around $150, with the more exotic versions costing up to $250.

But it's not for nothing that such tremendous hype surrounded Intel's new CPUs release. As our test results will show later on, even the slowest Intel Core 2 Duo processor is significantly faster than more expensive Pentium D processors. Take the Pentium D 950 for example, this is a $250 processor whereas the newer Core 2 Duo E6300 will initially cost just $180. This means that a processor and motherboard combo featuring Intel's latest technology could cost $330, wiping the floor with previous Intel processors and at the very least matching those from AMD. The question is however, which of the four Intel Core 2 Duo processors deliver the best performance vs. price ratio?

All four Core 2 Duo processors we are testing today operate using a 1066MHz Front Side Bus (266MHz Quad Pumped). The E6700 is the flagship model running at 2.66GHz and featuring a 4MB L2 Cache. Then there is the Core 2 Duo E6600, which operates at 2.40GHz, also with a 4MB L2 Cache, probably making the best value/performance option of the entire Core 2 Duo series. The Core 2 Duo E6300 and E6400 processors feature a shared 2MB L2 Cache and come clocked at 1.86GHz and 2.13GHz. There is an 810MHz difference between the fastest and the slowest Core 2 Duo processors. Also out of our round-up but still worth a mention is the Core 2 Extreme processor that runs at 2.93 GHz, as with previous CPUs in the Extreme line, this model comes with an unlocked multiplier, however its $999 price tag puts it on a different level than the processors we are testing today.



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