The introduction of Core 2 Duo about a month ago delivered a new processor with about a 25% improvement in performance over the fastest chips in the market. The top-line X6800, running at 2.93GHz, was the most flexible of the new processors, with completely unlocked multipliers up and down. This allowed settings like running at a 13x multiplier (stock is 11x) at 277 FSB (3.6GHz) at default voltage - the result of the incredible head room exhibited by the new Conroe processors.

Intel Core 2 Processors
CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache Price
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz 4MB $999
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 4MB $530
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz 4MB $316
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz 2MB $224
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz 2MB $183

Unfortunately, the X6800 costs $999 which is way out of the budget range for many buyers - and it's even more at retail right now due to demand and availability, with the best price we're currently tracking at $1150. The good news is the lowest-priced E6300 outperformed every previous Intel chip. Compared to AMD the E6600 outperformed every AMD processor, and costs $364 to $433 compared to the $825 to $950 for the AMD top-line FX-62. (Almost all of the Core 2 processors are being marked up 10% to 20% at retail, though we expect prices to drop over the coming months.)

So is there a catch? The answer is yes and no. The X6800, as stated, is unlocked up and down, allowing the flexibility to do anything you wish with the outstanding head room of the Core 2 Duo architecture. The rest of the Core 2 Duo chips are hard-locked up and down, which greatly limits the flexibility of the head room which often runs 1000MHz, 1500 MHz, or more - depending on the CPU and motherboard. You could only access this extra power at the stock multiplier. This is actually a big negative compared to AM2 processors, where all chips are at least unlocked down.

ASUS has a history of incredible creativity in their mainstream motherboards. Those who recall the P865 Springdale will remember ASUS was the first to implement the "875 only" PAT speedup on the mainstream 865 - making the 865 just as fast as the more expensive 875. On the 925, where Intel had implemented a clock lock, ASUS was the first to find a way to break the clock lock and unleash extended speeds on their 875 motherboards. With this history in mind, it should not come as a surprise that ASUS has just introduced some very creative thinking in a new BIOS for their 965P chipset P5B Deluxe motherboard.

The new 0507 BIOS for the P5B Deluxe, dated 8/10/2006, has two new and exciting features:
  1. Provide better maximum overclocking.
  2. Add the ability to adjust the multiplier of most Conroe CPUs even if they are not Extreme Edition.
The P5B reached about 362x10 in testing for the Conroe Buying Guide: Feeding the Monster. This provides a baseline for comparing the new BIOS to previous results.

Even more exciting is that ASUS says they have found a way to unlock up or down most Conroe chips. This will be a significant new feature that is highly desired by many Core 2 Duo buyers. It didn't take but a few minutes for us to get the new BIOS flashed and a Core 2 Duo chip mounted to check this out.

A pattern has been developing for some time in test results from Core 2 Duo chips. The 2MB Cache chips, the E6300 and E6400, are generally overclocking a bit better than the 4MB E6600, E6700, and X6800 chips. Since performance of the 2MB is a bit lower than the 4MB cache at the same frequency, this means you can make up for some of the 2MB cache deficiency with the ability to run at a faster speed. With this in mind, testing was performed with all 4 of the Core 2 Duo chips that are multiplier locked - the 4MB E6700 and E6600, and the 2MB E6400 and E6300.

E6700 & E6600 – 4MB Cache
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  • ZachSaw - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    My posts were for Wesley and Gary only. They will know exactly what I was talking about with the subtle hints. Those of you who feel left out in the cold by my posts, I appologize. It was never meant to be a general post.

    And just to clarify, I do not speak for Intel. And again, for the record, I do not work for Intel.

    This is an article comment, not a message board. The posts I made were directed to the author.
    Reply
  • Questar - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    I find that people who say in public how superior they are to others generally aren't. Reply
  • Araemo - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    "This is an article comment, not a message board. The posts I made were directed to the author."

    The author's email address is posted at the top of every page of the article. If your comment was only intended for the author, email is a much better method of communication.

    It might also get you a more direct response. ;)
    Reply
  • Strunf - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    "This is an article comment, not a message board. The posts I made were directed to the author."
    This is where you’re wrong... the first post of a topic is generally related to the news/article but others are free and will most of the time comment your post, just like in any other message board. Even you have more than once posted a comment to posts made by other folks.
    Reply
  • splines - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    That was for Zachsaw, by the way :) Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    hence I think the reason for the other poster getting hostile and doubting legitimacy.

    either you have information and share it or zip up...
    analogous to say I overclocked my cpu to 100ghz, using 2 "special" tools, but I cant tell you what they are.
    Reply
  • mongo lloyd - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    I wish Anandtech were more forthcoming with what kind of overclocks you can see with different memory/dividers, and compare the performance. Not everyone has the economical predisposition to buy super expensive "enthusiast" memory; and definitely not wanting to pay twice the price for 2-3% improvement in theoretical benchmarks, like in the past. I'm sick of the memory tunnel vision on hardware review sites. Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    quote:

    I wish Anandtech were more forthcoming with what kind of overclocks you can see with different memory/dividers, and compare the performance. Not everyone has the economical predisposition to buy super expensive "enthusiast" memory; and definitely not wanting to pay twice the price for 2-3% improvement in theoretical benchmarks, like in the past. I'm sick of the memory tunnel vision on hardware review sites.


    These particular results were completed at 1:1 ratios with "very expensive" OCZ memory and is one of the major reasons why the FSB clocks are so high with the E6300/6400 chips. We realize that not everyone can afford this type of memory which was one of the main reasons behind our recent memory looks in the first Conroe buyer's guide and the DDR/DDR2 memory analysis on the ASRock boards. However, this article was about what is possible with the P5B using the top components available. As for benchmarks showing the differences between overclocks with different memory and dividers, that is a very good suggestion we will take under consideration. Thanks for the comments.
    Reply
  • Questar - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    Thanks Gary, this is exactly what we need. The question is "do memory dividers make a significant difference for Conroe". Reply
  • blackbrrd - Sunday, August 27, 2006 - link

    Yeah, I heard some rumours about the 965 chipset not overclocking well with a lower than 1:1 ration on the ram.

    I am interested in a low-cost overclock with 667mhz ddr2 ram and the E6300, to get the most bang for the buck. - Actually to use some of the money saved on the gfx card instead, due to most games beeing gfx card limited.

    In other words, a review of the P5B vanilla version with a E6300 and some generic ddr2 667 mhz ram would be really interesting ;)
    Reply

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