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Intel Core 2 Duo E4400:
Sometimes 4xxx Doesn't Mean Low Performance

May 4, 2007



Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 processor is a low-end product equipped, like E4300, with an "old" 800 MHz FSB, 2MB shared L2 cache, and it doesn't support virtualization. But! Its clock rate is 200 MHz higher than that of E4300. Because of this... It's also higher than the clock rate of Core 2 Duo E6300, the junior product of E6xxx series! Therefore, E6300 merely offers questionable (from the end-user point) virtualization support and 1066 MHz FSB. And E4400 has "just" 140 MHz higher clock rate. Actually, we can draw conclusions already now, but let's still see what test results are.

Hardware and software

Testbeds

CPU Mainboard Memory Video
Core 2 Duo E4300 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Core 2 Duo E4400 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Core 2 Duo E6300 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Core 2 eXtreme QX 6700 ASUS P5B Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
Athlon 64 X2 6000+ ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 GeForce 8800 GTX
  • 2 x 1024 MB RAM
  • Samsung SP1614C (SATA) HDD
  • Boxed coolers
  • Chieftec GPS-550AB A PSU
CPU Core 2 Duo E4300 Core 2 Duo E4400 Core 2 Duo E6300 Core 2 eXtreme QX6700 Athlon 64 X2 6000+
Process, nm
65
65
65
65
90
Core clock, GHz
1.8
2.0
1.86
2.66
3.0
# of cores
2
2
2
4
2
L2 cache*, KB
2048
2048
2048
8192
2 x 1024
FSB**, MHz
800 (QP)
800 (QP)
1066 (QP)
1066 (QP)
2 x 800 (DDR2)
Multiplier
9
10
7
10
15
Socket
LGA775
LGA775
LGA775
LGA775
AM2
Heat emission***, W
50-74
50-74
50-74
130
125
AMD64/EM64T
+
+
+
+
+
VT
+
+
+

* - "2 x ..." means per core
** - for AMD processors this is memory controller bus clock rate
*** - measured differently for Intel and AMD processors; impossible to compare directly.

Software

  1. Windows XP Professional x64 edition SP1
  2. 3ds max 9 x64 edition
  3. Maya 8.5 x64 edition
  4. Lightwave 3D 9 x64 edition
  5. MATLAB R2006a (7.2.0.32) x64 edition
  6. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0
  7. SolidWorks 2005
  8. Photoshop CS2 (9.0)
  9. Visual Studio 2005 Professional
  10. Apache HTTP Server 2.2.4
  11. CPU RightMark 2005 Lite (1.3) x64 edition
  12. WinRAR 3.62
  13. 7-Zip 4.42 x64 edition
  14. FineReader 8.0 Professional
  15. LAME 3.97
  16. Monkey Audio 4.01
  17. OGG Encoder 2.83
  18. Windows Media Encoder 9 x64 edition
  19. Canopus ProCoder 2.01.30
  20. DivX 6.4
  21. Windows Media Video VCM 9
  22. x264 v.604
  23. XviD 1.1.2
  24. F.E.A.R. 1.08
  25. Half-Life 2 1.0
  26. Quake 4 1.3
  27. Call of Duty 2 1.2
  28. Serious Sam 2 2.07
  29. Supreme Commander 1.0.3220

Benchmarking

Essential foreword to charts

Our test method has two peculiarities of data representation: (1) all data types are reduced to one - integer relative score (performance of a given processor relative to that of Intel Core 2 Duo E4300, given its performance is 100 points), and (2) detailed results are published in this Microsoft Excel table, while the article contains only summary charts by benchmark classes. We will nevertheless focus your attention on detailed results, when needed.

3D Modelling

In this article we are naturally interested in the results of E4300/E4400/E6300 processors, while other products are provided for reference (we have just added the results of E4400/6300 to the previous article charts.) And in the very first benchmark we see that faster bus loses to higher clock rate.

CAD/CAE

This is just as in previous benchmark, and even the absolute points are the same.

Digital Image Processing

E4400 and E6300 earned 1 more point each, but the general picture remained the same: Core 2 Duo E4400 is still a confident leader among the lower-end trio.

Compiling

At compiling E4400 even increased its result comparing to previous benchmark results. While E6300 still sticked to its favourite 104 points...

Web Server

This benchmark was a hope for E6300. In principle, given there are multiple simultaneously processed requests, a faster bus should have offered advantage. However, our hopes were not justified and the clock rate remained the critical argument.

Synthetic tests

In CPU RightMark Core 2 Duo E4400 showcases 100% clock rate scalability: it's actually 11% higher than that of E4300.

Archiving

At last. We were already afraid that E6300 would make no score. However, there's a little fly even in this teaspoonful of ointment: in WinRAR E4400 still outperformed E6300 and only the considerable advantage in 7-Zip allowed the latter to score. It's very indicative: 7-Zip seems to be very critical about memory performance.

OCR

Same old, same old...

Audio Encoding

An "olde" test group which nearly lost its importance today due to high result predictability.

Video Encoding

And again E6300 scores 104 points. It just can't break away from this value...

Games

Both processors were not perfectly scalable here. Even the E4400 rolled back from its usual 108-110 range down to 106 points. Well, games are more sensitive to GPU than to CPU, as we know.

Total score



The total score doesn't tell us any news. Essentially, in all benchmarks except one the game was the same, so the final result was rather predictable.

Supposed power consumption


And this is more interesting already. It seems that Core 2 Duo E6300 didn't get away with VT support and faster bus: its idle power consumption is much higher than that of E4300/4400. Speaking of 12W of the faster E4400 vs. 13W of the slower E4300, we shouldn't forget there are measurement errors. And it's not exactly CPU power consumption that we measure, as well...

Conclusions

As we have mentioned in the beginning, the competition of faster bus and higher clock rate is rather predictable, and within a single architecture the latter wins. But we still had some hopes that the lag would be slight... Alas, we can't say 4% is slight in the value CPU price segment, where buyers count money well, and the choice is dictated by price. If Core 2 Duo E4400 becomes more cheaper (and, judging by the product, this is actually possible), then E6300 would only be recommended for those in dire need of virtualization. For all other customers there would be no sense in overpaying for a 1066 MHz FSB, which is de facto useless here.

There's actually a rather straightforward way out of this situation: to avoid competition between its own products, one of which is surpringly better than the other despite their market positioning, Intel can just quietly remove E6300 from the market. And leave E6320 instead, for example, with its doubled L2 cache. Will E6320 outperform E4400 armed with both faster bus and larger cache? An interesting question it is, and the answer is not that predictable already. We shall conduct the necessary benchmarking in the nearest future...

Memory for testbeds provided by
Corsair Memory Russia

Stanislav Garmatyuk (nawhi@ixbt.com)
May 3, 2007

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