In the end, we're impressed by the staying power of Intel's Core 2 architecture, especially the 45 nm CPUs tested today. But we’re also saddened that Intel no longer sells budget-friendly processors to enthusiasts, like so many Celerons and Pentiums from the past. While the company clearly made big improvements to threaded performance, memory bandwidth, efficiency, and value-added features, it's a little disappointing that an overclocked Core 2 Duo from four or five years ago can match or beat today's best dual-core offerings. Of course, we're keeping in mind that the E8400 original sold for almost three times as much. But still, it would be fun to disable two of Core i5-3570K's cores and see how a K-series Pentium might have performed.
Finally, we found that an overclocked Core 2 Quad (Yorkfield) easily outmaneuvers the latest Core i3 in many video encoding and productivity applications. Once it's clocked high enough, it even matches the i3 in threaded games.
The real winner today has to be Intel's Core i5-3570K control processor. Out of the box, it's pretty much unrivaled by any of these lower-priced chips. And, sporting the unlocked multiplier enthusiasts covet, it'd let us tap into even greater levels of performance, if that were the point of this story.
Nice to see the old Quadcore ( Q9550 ) and even the old E8400 dual core hang with the new processors ( once overclocked of course ). Sure the new cpu's are faster, but it is the "gap" between them that concerns me, and it is smaller than I would have guessed it to be after reading that review.
The only difference between my Q9400 and the Q9550 quad is the amount of L2 cache, mine has 6 MB, the 9550 has 12 MB, otherwise they are identical.
So my cpu , Q9400 running at 3.35 Ghz would be very close the Q9550 @ 3.40 Ghz ( as overclocked and tested in that review ), very very close...
My cpu is still "strong enough" for current games ( this year at least ) so I hope to keep my rig running like this for rest of the year then upgrade my platform next year.
I want to get a new sound card ( Asus Xonar DX for $90 or so ) and a new video card ( Asus GTX 660 Ti on sale ) this summer and that will be "enough" to keep me happy till next year.
Thanks to Tom's hw for this review, I love reviews like this that pit older hw against newer hw in a big "shootout" review to see exactly how much faster ( or not ) the new stuff is compared to the old...kudos...