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Intel Celeron E3300 Processor

A full-fledged low-end solution or a "socket stub?"

January 29, 2010



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Intel Celeron processors were at the height of their fame late in the nineties, when they were based on the Mendocino core. Those solutions were interesting because they had only a quarter of L2 cache of full-fledged Pentium II and III (128KB vs. 512KB), but it worked at the frequency of the CPU core. The clock rates were similar to those of other products. Aimed at lower FSB frequencies, Celerons were easier to overclock. Besides, they performed relatively well in the normal mode. It was so well, actually, that Intel had never made that mistake again. The transition to the Coppermine core resulted in Pentium III processors getting full-speed cache as well. Though they got twice as much of it. Besides, those CPUs obtained 133 MHz FSB, while the Celerons were stuck with the 66 MHz FSB. They remained overclockable, but a Pentium III with 100 MHz FSB produced way more interesting results.

Later, Celerons remained low-end, but never tried to catch up with full-fledged siblings, just because they had always been "scraps" of those. Perhaps, only during the transition from Pentium III to Pentium 4, the series got its second wind. Simply because the Willamette core turned out to be, um, not successful enough. Besides, having to use expensive RDRAM memory initially made the platform look less attractive. But the Celerons kept the old platform and soon moved to a newer 130nm core -- vs. the 180nm process technology of the Willamette and old Pentium III processors. They also got the same amount of cache Pentium III had. As a result, those "low-end" processors turned out to be suited better for certain tasks than some high-end products. That disbalance was, however, fixed quickly: the renewed Northwood core made Pentium 4 look very attractive. Besides, Celeron migrated to the same Socket 478, got the same microarchitecture the higher-end solution had, but also got only a quarter of its L2 cache. Naturally, the Celeron series evolved as well, but they did it much slower than the Pentium series. It didn't even change when the latter family was pushed down the product line -- giving up NetBurst and moving to the Core 2 architecture brought Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors to the market. The Pentiums and the Celerons also migrated to the new architecture, but while the former remained dual-core, the latter still had only one core.

With time, even the Celeron series became dual-core. Today, these processors have 1MB L2 cache and clock rates up to 2.5 GHz. They are also made using the 45nm process technology, the most advanced for LGA775 solutions. But don't think that the company has reappraised the values. It's just that the Pentium series already has 1066 MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache and clock rates over 3 GHz -- something once available only to the extreme editions. Moreover, buyers are now more interested in products capable of handling two and more threads simultaneously -- either having two and more physical cores or based on the new architecture with Hyper-Threading support.

What can a Celeron CPU offer under these conditions? Obviously, it cannot compete with any processors from the higher-end series. But we can still compare it with other low-end solutions. Besides, our previous review dedicated to this topic was published as far back as August 2008, when the series only started acquiring the first dual-core solutions. It's high time to see what has changed in a year and a half. Let's see whether the new Celeron is a true processor or a "socket stub."

Testbeds


CPU Celeron E3300 Celeron E3300OC
Core Wolfdale-2M Wolfdale-2M
Process technology, nm 45 45
Core clock, GHz 2.5 3.33
Multiplier 12.5 12.5
FSB clock, MHz 800 1066
Number of cores 2 2
L1 cache, I/D, KB 32/32 32/32
L2 cache, KB 1024 1024
Socket LGA775 LGA775
TDP, W 65 65
Price Newegg, Amazon

We shall test the second top model in the series, Celeron E3300. The Celeron line is still evolving, and Intel doesn't plan to use this brand for LGA1156 processors yet. Since we usually do not have much time to review low-end processors often (literally, too, because it takes these processors so long to complete all the tests), we also decided to see how this CPU performs when overclocked. Actually, we could do more, thanks to its high multiplier, small cache and fine process technology, but we decided to stick to the aforementioned mode for three reasons. Firstly, such results can easily be achieved even at normal voltages (though we raised it to 1.4 V just to be sure). Secondly, it only requires selecting the next standard FSB clock rate. Thirdly, the clock rate of our E3300OC is identical to that of Core 2 Duo E8600 -- it's also the official upper limit for all the LGA775 solutions. Of course, our CPU has lower FSB clock and six times smaller cache. The latter is considered quite important: while the difference in clock rates can be negated by overclocking, there's no way to increase the cache size of an Intel processor. Thus, we shall see whether this consideration is true, and whether such overclocking will help our Celeron E3300 join the ranks of higher-performing processors. Naturally, we won't compare it with Core 2 Duo E8600 or with any quad-core CPUs. The goal is to check whether overclocking can help this CPU get one step higher in the performance rating.


CPU Athlon X2 6000+ Athlon II X2 250 Pentium E5300 Pentium E6500
Core Windsor Regor Wolfdale-2M Wolfdale-2M
Process technology, nm 90 45 45 45
Core clock, GHz 3.0 3.0 2.6 2.93
Multiplier 15 15 13 11
Number of cores 2 2 2 2
L1 cache, I/D, KB 64/64 64/64 32/32 32/32
L2 cache, KB 2 x 1024 2 x 1024 2048 2048
RAM 2 x DDR2-800 2 x DDR3-1066 - -
FSB/HT, MHz 1000 2000 800 1066
Socket AM2 AM2+/AM3 LGA775 LGA775
TDP, W 125 65 65 65
Price Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon Newegg, Amazon

It was easy to find competitors for today's review. Obviously, Pentium E5200 would be perfect, because it differs from Celeron E3300 only by the doubled amount of L2 cache. But since we hadn't tested it according to the new test method yet, we had to use Pentium E5300 instead. However, its clock rate is just 100 MHz higher that Celeron E3300's normal frequency, so it's still OK. We also threw in Pentium E6500, because it would be quite easy to compare with Celeron E3300OC: same bus, but different amounts of cache (2MB vs. 1MB) and different clock rates (2.93 GHz vs. 3.33 GHz). We also added two dual-core processors from AMD: the new Athlon II X2 250 and the old 90nm Athlon X2 6000+ with 1MB cache per core. Before the rollout of Core 2, the closest relative of this CPU -- Athlon 64 FX-62 (which also had 200-megahertz lower clock rate) was the world's fastest among all desktop x86-64 processors. It will be interesting to see if current low-end solutions have reached the performance level of 3-4-year old top-end CPUs. The mid-end processors have already done that. If not, can overclocking to similar or higher clock rates help? Note that Athlon II X2 250 is a higher-end solution than Celeron, though their prices are close enough. Besides, we haven't had a chance to test any slower AMD processors yet.


Socket Motherboard RAM
LGA775 DDR2 ASUS P5Q Deluxe(P45) Corsair CM2X2048-8500C5D (2 x 800, 5-5-5-15-2T)
LGA775 DDR3 ASUS P5Q3 (P45) Kingston KVR1333D3N9K3/6G (2 x 1066, 8-8-8-19-2T for 1066 MHz FSB; 2 x 800, 6-6-6-15-2T for 800 MHz FSB)
AM3 Gigabyte MA770T-UD3P (AMD 770) Corsair CM3X2G1600C9DHX (2 x 1066, 7-7-7-20-1T, Unganged Mode)
AM2 Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H (AMD 790GX) Corsair CM2X2048-8500C5D (2 x 800, 5-5-5-15-2T)

The transition to DDR3 is a global trend now, besides, some processors do not work with DDR2 memory already. But this time we decided to change the rules a bit and test the normal Celeron E3300 with DDR2 memory as well. Just because DDR3 seemed to be a real bottleneck for the narrow bus of this CPU series. No one would have used DDR3 memory with such processors until recently, because DDR3 used to be much more expensive than DDR2. The latter is still cheaper even now. So we believe that buyers of low-end machines will be interested in DDR2 benchmarks more.


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Page 1: Introduction, testbeds

Page 2: Tests

Page 3: More tests, conclusions



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