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 - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    In the meantime, do take the article offline.

    Find a bigger sample -- determine which ones can be "unlocked" upwards, which ones can't. Compare with Retail B2. Those are the ones most people are using and are available off the shelves. Otherwise, the article is completely meaningless as it is right now. Other than to make Wesley appear like an ASUS fan-boy, of course! ;)

    Anandtech articles are so significant to a lot of people and companies -- you simply can't afford to make such elementary mistakes! If some motherboard manufacturers tell you they have unlocked one of Intel's most highly kept secrets, you'll have to start questioning from every angle -- not embrace it like every other fan-boys.

    Like I've said, there're only 2 tools that are capable of 'unlocking' (it's actually reversing) the fused settings. 3 if you consider micro surgery on the chip itself. Never had the need to use that big expensive machine though. If the chip is properly configured (i.e. all production parts), you can forget reversing it. I can't go into more details about the 2 tools, but I can assure you that ASUS or any other mobo manufacturers for that matter do not have access to them.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Anandtech articles are so significant to a lot of people and companies -- you simply can't afford to make such elementary mistakes! If some motherboard manufacturers tell you they have unlocked one of Intel's most highly kept secrets, you'll have to start questioning from every angle -- not embrace it like every other fan-boys.


    We agree. :) We do have screenshots from Asus along with other engineering information showing chips upclocking. We are discussing the upclock statements but for the mean time the article has clarified the down clock information. That error was my fault as my communication to Wes was flawed when discussing the down clock with and without EIST enabled.

    As for the B1 / B2 steppings, B1 was the planned retail release and several shipments did make it into distribution. Our B2 E6300/E6400 overclock better than their B1 counterparts. As for the B1 E6600~X6800, our internal units vary up to 200MHZ in overclock ability on the X6800 as an example. Intel sent out several thousand B1 review samples and that is what we have to use unless individuals on the staff purchase new retail chips which can become quite expensive. ;-) I have been through all of the overclocking results with our press samples/retail chips. Unless you had access to hand binned chips, then it truly is the luck of the draw about the chip capability you will receive.
    Reply
  • Anemone - Sunday, August 27, 2006 - link

    This is correct. B1's did make it to retail.

    Zach, for someone who's not supposed to say much, you talk a lot... and not by email, which I find surprising. It's your call, but it is very unusual, and motivated by something I think.

    These are curious posts for sure.
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    They never said they unlocked up. And GIVE THE B2 vs. B1 SHIT A REST!

    Did they say their B1 unlocked up? NO! Did they say their B2 unlocked up? NO! So what exactly does B2 give you over B1, a display in CPU-Z that saying B2 and probably a processor that you didn't have to pay for, that's what. ASUS says some chips do unlock up; I certainly don't expect AnandTech to run around purchasing chips to try and find out which ones will work.

    So Gigabyte and ASUS unlock down, other boards use EIST to automatically drop to 6X (and only 6X as far as I'm aware) for power saving. BIOS updates can fix that, but a lot of companies won't bother. Anyway, at least we now know that you work for Intel, what with your L33T Inside Information.
    Reply
  • ZachSaw - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    Read the post I responded to, kid, before you speak. Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    Thanks, old Intel fart who probably works in Malaysia for Intel at a chip fab. As I said, never say never. If there's one thing I can say for certain, it's that the Taiwanese, Chinese, etc. have some very talented engineers. I don't doubt that Asus has some non-ES, non-X6800 chips that unlock up. Are they simply an analomy? Possibly - probably even - but you "2 sooper secrit toolz" that allow reversal of the locks simply mean that there is a way to pull this off. Whether it's practical or not, I can't say, and you're not telling.

    Anyway, they've updated the conclusion to now mention Gigabyte, so I hope that keeps you happy. I for one must also be an Asus fanboy because I find their Intel boards to be among the best around - far better than the BadAxe, that's for sure. Without knowing anything about a motherboard, I'd go with chance and take an Asus over any other manufacturer. There have been a few lemons, but everyone has those - even Intel (and AMD, Gigabyte, etc.) By and large, I trust Asus more than any other motherboard company.

    And hey, if they want to market their boards better than Gigabyte and specifically ask Anandtech to do a special report on the feature, more power to 'em! AMD could learn a thing or two about marketing from Asus. Heh. I still prefer the P5W DH, but would really like to see SLI support with a high-end chipset. (Yeah, I'm an nVidia fanboy as well - not my fault that ATI's drivers are still flaky in a lot of situations and have a cruddy UI.) Unfortunately, I don't think 590 SLI is going to be the answer... maybe "nforce6" or whatever will offer high overclocks and SLI support, but that's still a while off it seems.
    Reply
  • ZachSaw - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    Nope. I don't work for Intel.

    And no, you're way off the point -- this is never about Gigabyte vs ASUS.

    And yes, you're entitled to have your own opinion. Perhaps one day we'll even have a mobo that allows you to have both Intel and AMD chips on one board doing dual processor. Great, now off you go.
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Nope. I don't work for Intel.


    quote:

    There's no way you can unlock it upwards -- unless you have the 2 tools I had access to. And no, you do not have access to those tools.


    quote:

    Like I've said, there're only 2 tools that are capable of 'unlocking' (it's actually reversing) the fused settings. 3 if you consider micro surgery on the chip itself. Never had the need to use that big expensive machine though. If the chip is properly configured (i.e. all production parts), you can forget reversing it. I can't go into more details about the 2 tools, but I can assure you that ASUS or any other mobo manufacturers for that matter do not have access to them.



    Okay, so you don't work for Intel but you apparently have access to a microsurgery chip corrector machine, and you have access to tools that "ASUS or any other mobo manufacturers" lack. Wow. If you don't work for Intel, then I would have to conclude you either work for AMD, IBM, or some other major chip fabrication company (TSMC maybe). Then we of course have to wonder why this upsets you so... but if you work for AMD that would be a given, since good news for Intel is bad news for AMD generally speaking. I have difficulty imagining something that you might have access to that Asus would not.

    I suppose you need to protect your identity, regardless, but it's all rather silly to bash a short article that basically says "Asus claims upward unlocks are sometimes possible" when you really don't have proof, except from your vast knowledge of what is and isn't possible. The world is full of things that were once deemed "impossible", and if Anandtech says ASUS has sent them screencaptures, I have no reason to doubt that. Were they with ES, B1, B2, or something else? Nobody has yet given a concrete answer.

    Do I trust you, or Anandtech? I forgot, AT is full of Intel, AMD, Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock, etc. fanboys, so I guess we should all trust Zach instead. Great, now off you go. Hope they pay you well. Goodnight.
    Reply
  • ZachSaw - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    There's no way you can unlock it upwards -- unless you have the 2 tools I had access to. And no, you do not have access to those tools.

    The only way ASUS managed to 'unlock' is simply because Intel did not fuse out the multiplier in certain engineering samples. There're different classes of samples. I am not allowed to go into too much details, but the article is simply wrong.

    Anyway, if he sang so much praises for Gigabyte in one article, yeah, I'll call him a Gigabyte fan-boy. :) Since he can't proved that ASUS unlocked it upwards on Retail processors, he ignorantly praised ASUS nevertheless. You'd have to agree that it warrants the label of fan-boy! ;)
    Reply
  • Frumious1 - Thursday, August 24, 2006 - link

    Only thing I can say for certain is that you're coming off as an arrogant prick, Zach. I sure hope you work for a motherboard/RAM/CPU manufacturer. As for what is and isn't possible with BIOS tweaks, never say never. Maybe Intel just had a batch that didn't get locked properly, maybe not.

    But a FSB overclock to 532 MHz is definitely nothing to scoff at, and whether Gigabyte was first with a buggy BIOS or not doesn't matter much to me. After all, the ftp://dlsvr01.asus.com/pub/ASUS/mb/socket775/P5B%2...">0507 Asus BIOS is from 2006/8/11 which makes it two weeks old. That's about the time Core 2 really became available anyway. Gigabyte's F4 came out around the same time, and that's the first truly usable BIOS from them as far as I can tell.
    Reply

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