There's no denying that we love to play with the latest and greatest pieces of hardware at TrustedReviews but every so often we need to take a reality check to make sure that we're reviewing the type of hardware that you actually buy.
So here we are, hard on the heels of some devilishly fast Intel quad core processors that use Intel's 45nm Penryn fabrication process, namely the Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme QX9650 and Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme QX9770.
These Extreme Edition processors are unlocked and carry an extreme price of more than £600 so no matter how fast they run, there's few people we'd recommend buying them. Instead the more sensibly priced quad core Yorkfield E9000 series and dual core Wolfdale E8000 processors will do for most of us. Today we're looking at a Core 2 Duo E8500, which is the fastest of the Wolfdales, with a clock speed of 3.16GHz, and has a street price of £182.
The rest of the E8000 family consists of the E8200, running at 2.66GHz and selling for £110, and the E8400, which has a clock speed of 3.00GHz and costs £130. As always, it pays to shop around as we found prices varying by as much as £50 for a given model of processor but even without these savings they're all great value CPUs.
And yes, we have noted that the E8300 model code is ‘missing' from that short list. This as yet unofficial CPU is rumoured soon and if logic is anything to go by, it is likely carry a clock speed of 2.83GHz. Time will tell, though.
Wolfdale uses the 45nm Penryn fabrication process which gives Intel the space to shovel in 6MB of L2 cache but essentially the new processor is just a Conroe that runs on a 1,333MHz front side bus. They both use the same LGA775 socket and have the same core technologies with support for SSE4.1 media extensions as well as EM64T 32-bit/64-bit technology and C1E/SpeedStep. You might not think it but SpeedStep is interesting as the E8500 will switch down in clock speed from 3.16GHz to a speed of 2.0GHz when the processing load is low, which should help to save energy and keep temperatures down.
The clock speed of 3.16GHz also bears some attention as it means that Intel is using an unusual clock multiplier of 9.5x instead of a whole number such as 9x or 10x.
One area of change from Conroe to Wolfdale is a reduction in core voltage from 1.325V to 1.225V along with a reduction in Thermal Design Power (TDP) from 75W with the 65nm process to 65W on 45nm. We used a mains power meter during testing to check how much power the system was drawing and were unable to see a great deal of difference between the E6750 and E8500. Though it doesn't seem it at first, this does prove the point in favour of Wolfdale as the E8500 used the same amount of power as the E6750 yet it delivers an extra 500MHz.
Intel is clearly confident that a Wolfdale processor requires a minimal amount of cooling as the heatsink in the box in absolutely tiny. The cooler is very low-profile with a finned aluminium body that stands a mere 15mm tall and it is dwarfed by the fan which takes the total height of the cooler to 40mm. Flip the cooler over and there's another surprise in store as the heatsink is entirely made of aluminium and doesn't use a copper core.