The $133 Wolfdale Arrives - Core 2 Duo E7200

The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor isn't even out yet, but it is by far one of the most talked about processors in 2008 and with a rumored price of $133 it is no wonder as to why. This means that the E7200 will be priced lower than what you can purchase an Intel Core 2 Duo E4700 for today as it will set you back for $149.99. The E7200 at 2.53GHz is 70MHz slower than the E4700 that currently works at 2.6GHz, but don't worry as the E7200 has 1066MHz FSB, which is faster than the E4700 that has just an 800MHz FSB. The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 has a 3MB chunk of L2 cache that should perform better than the 2MB L2 cache found on the E4700. The faster Front Side Bus (FSB) and increased density on the L2 cache should make up for the lower clock speed and make the entry level Core 2 Duo very competitive.

As much as the enthusiast community has been talking about the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor, Intel has been pretty silent about the upcoming processor. This is strange seeing how the launch of it is coming up in the weeks ahead (rumored to be on May 11th, 2008). After the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor arrived here at LR, we had some questions for Intel about the pricing and power ratings and Intel had this to say:

Oh, for pricing, we are not giving that out yet as launch is still just slated for “Q2” and it isn’t launched yet. I will say however it will fit into our mainstream dual core 65W TDP. - Intel PR

With Intel not sharing any information other than providing us with a processor let's take a look at what we have and run some numbers!  The rest of the information will come out when the launch date gets closer.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Review

With the latest version of CPU-Z 1.44.2, we can see our dual-core 'Wolfdale' processor is correctly identified at 2.53 GHz with a 1066MHz FSB and 3MB L2 cache. This is a 45nm processor with the Q-spec code of QAFS. The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 should be a great overclocker as it has a 9.5 multiplier (266MHz FSB x 9.5 multiplier = 2,527MHz). If you increase the FSB to 333MHz that will make the CPU 3.16GHz and if it could do 400MHz that would make it 3.80GHz! We will try to reach these higher clock frequencies in our overclocking section.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Review

Moving over to the cache tab in CPU-Z the 3MB of L2 cache can be seen.  With a larger L2 cache size the Core 2 Duo 7xxx series should be able to perform better than the Core 2 Duo 4xxx series.

The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Bottom

Flipping the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor over, some differences can be noted between the various 45nm processors by Intel.

The Test System

Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test system that was used.

The Test System

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode with a 120mm fan placed on top of them to keep them cool. The XFX GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB used NVIDIA ForceWare 169.28 video card drivers and the ASUS P5E3 motherboard using BIOS version 1009, which was the most recent available when testing was done. The AMD Phenom test system was done on the MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard with BIOS v1.4 installed along with ATI system driver version 8.452. 

Memory Settings:

Here is the Intel X38 Express Test platform:

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

See Above LGA775 CPUs

Motherboard

ASUS P5E3 Deluxe

Memory

4GB Corsair DDR3 1800C7

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Here is the Intel Skulltrail Test platform:

Skulltrail Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

2x Intel Core 2 QX9775

Motherboard

Intel D5400XS 

Memory

4GB Micron 800MHz FB-DIMM

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Here is the AMD Phenom Test platform:

AMD Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

AMD Phenom 9600/9850

Motherboard

MSI K9A2 Platinum

Memory

4GB OCZ Flex PC2-6400

Video Card

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling

Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply

PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Sandra XII SP1 Memory Bandwidth

Sisoft; Sandra XII SP1:

Sisoftware Sandra 2008

The Sisoft Sandra XII SP1 benchmark utility just came out a couple months ago and we have started to include it in out benchmarking. With Sandra XII SP1 you can now easily compare the performance of the tested device with its speed and its (published) power (TDP)! Sandra XII SP1 also has SSE4 (Intel) and SSE4A (AMD) benchmark code-paths, which is great for those of you testing next-generation AMD & Intel chips.

Sandra XII SP1 Benchmark Scores

Results: Sandra XII SP1 showed that the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 has decent memory bandwidth, but with just a 1066MHz FSB the DDR3 memory is operating at 1066MHz with CL7 timings.  This isn't enough to compete with the other platforms at higher memory frequencies.

Photodex ProShow Gold 3.2

ProShow Gold allows the user to combine photos, videos and music to create spectacular slide shows. The software provides the capability to share memories with friends and family on DVD, PC and the Web. ProShow Gold brings still photos to life by adding motion effects like pan, zoom, and rotate. The user can also add captions to a photo or video and choose from over 280 transition effects.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmark Settings

The workload we are using takes 29 high resolution jpeg photos and converts them to an mpeg2, widescreen DVD quality, 3min 9sec slideshow video file. The input photos are in 3872x2592 resolution and total about 170MB in size.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmarking

ProShow Gold 3.2 lets you share your slide shows in virtually any format and on any device. You can upload your shows directly to YouTube or choose from over 20 devices to directly output to including the iPod, Blackberry, ZuneTM and more. Not bad for software that runs under $70 and is optimized for eight-cores! Our benchmark testing wasn't at 100% load the entire time, but averaged around 95% during the testing period.

Photodex Proshow Gold 3.2 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Photodex Proshow software showed that the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 wasn't as fast as the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 'Conroe' processor at 2.66GHz with 4M shared L2 Cache built on the 65nm process . Keep in mind that the E7200 is 2.53GHz with 3MB of shared L2 Cache that is made on the improved 45nm process.

Sony Vegas 8.0b

The Vegas Pro collection combines Vegas Pro 8, DVD Architect Pro 4.5, and Dolby Digital AC-3 encoding software to offer an integrated environment for all phases of professional video, audio, DVD, and broadcast production. These tools let you edit and process DV, AVCHD, HDV, SD/HD-SDI, and all XDCAM formats in real time, fine-tune audio with precision, and author surround sound, dual-layer DVDs. Vegas Pro software also supports 24p, HD and HDV editing, which is what we are going to look at in this benchmark.

Sony Vegas Benchmarking

The Sony Vegas 8.0b workload that we are using takes a series of short movie and audio files and creates a single video that incorporated special effects and transitions. It uses a MainConcept HDV encoding profile to render the 24p widescreen video clip at a resolution of 1440x1080x32.

Sony Vegas Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Running our custom Sony Vegas 8.0b benchmark shows just how important a CPU is when it comes to create a single video clip from multiple clips. The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 does well on this real-world test.

Microsoft Excel 2007

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 is a powerful and widely used tool with which you can create and format spreadsheets, and analyze and share information to make more informed decisions. It allows you to import, organize and explore massive data sets within spreadsheets and then communicate your analysis with professional-looking charts. Excel 2007 also provides tools to “see” important trends and find exceptions in your data. Legit Reviews has two benchmarking tests that we do on Microsoft Office Excel 2007.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Testing

The first workload executes approximately 28,000 sets of calculations using the most common calculations and functions found in Excel. These include common arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, division, rounding and square root. It also includes common statistical analysis functions such as Max, Min, Median and Average. The calculations are performed after a spreadsheet with a large dataset is updated with new values and must re-calculate many data points. The input file is the 6.2 MB spreadsheet seen above.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Lots of people use Microsoft Office at work and home, so this is an important test for many of our readers. Many people don't run 28,000 sets of calculations at once, but if you do the CPU will determine how fast the task is completed. 

The Black-Scholes model is used in our second Excel test to calculate a theoretical call and put price using the five key determinants of an option's price: stock price, strike price, volatility, time to expiration, and short-term (risk free) interest rate.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Testing

This workload calculates the European Put and Call option valuation for Black-Scholes option pricing using Monte Carlo simulation. It simulates the calculations performed when a spreadsheet with input parameters is updated and must recalculate the option valuation. In this scenario we execute approximately 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation. In addition, the workload uses Excel lookup functions to compare the put price from the model with the historical market price for 50,000 rows to understand the convergence. The input file is a 70.1 MB spreadsheet and with 10 times the calculations of the first test, this one should take a bit longer to complete.

Microsoft Excel 2007 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: With 300,000 iterations of Monte Carlo simulation taking place in this benchmark it takes all the processors a bit longer to finish as it puts a good load on the system.  The Intel Skulltrail system is in a league of its own as it completes the task in less than ten seconds.  The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 was just a tab behind the E6750 again in these tests.

Cinebench R9.5

MAXON; CINEBENCH 9.5:

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer's performance in everyday use. Especially a system's CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmarking

Cinebench 9.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench 9.5 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: Cinebench 9.5 was tested in both 64-bit and 32-bit, which resulted in some minor performance differences as seen above. The Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 and E7200 performed exactly the same and was able to complete the 64-bit benchmark in just 25 seconds.

Cinebench R10

MAXON; CINEBENCH R10:

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 10 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer's performance in everyday use. Especially a system's CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). The test procedure consists of two main components: The first test sequence is dedicated to the computer's main processor. A 3D scene file is used to render a photo reaslistic image. The scene makes use of various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders. In the first run, the benchmark only uses one CPU (or CPU core), to ascertain a reference value. On machines that have multiple CPUs or CPU cores, and also on those who simulate multiple CPUs (via HyperThreading or similar technolgies), MAXON CINEBENCH will run a second test using all available CPU power. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Cinebench 10

Cinebench R10 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench R10 Results

Results: Running Cinebench R10 in 64-bit mode showed a significant improvement in performance on all of the processors. This time around the Intel E7200 was just a bit faster than the Intel E6750, which is likely due to the fact that is has the SSE4 instruction-set.

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25:

The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is an high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file, and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.

The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which, in a nutshell, allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend on purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 beta 25, which is the most recent version available.  The benchmark used all available cores to complete the render.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 25

Benchmark Results: Looking at POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 25, the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 was ~4% slower than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750.

POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing

Legit Reviews was e-mailed by one of the developers over at POV-Ray to see if LR could include real-time raytracing in our performance analysis, and we were more than happy to include the data in our testing. 

E-Mail From POV-Ray -- I thought I might ping you about an experimental feature we've added to the POV-Ray SMP beta: real-time raytracing. It's mostly useful to folks who have multi-core systems and in fact is something that I've wanted to do for years but the hardware just wasn't there (at least not in the consumer price range). It works best on a kentsfield or later, but a core 2 duo should be sufficient if you don't mind sub-10fps frame rates.

If you want to try it out it please feel free to grab it from:  http://www.povray.org/beta/rtr/

POV-Ray real-time raytracing

This experimental software by POV-Ray was a welcomed addition to our testing and was able to spread the work load across all the cores in even our eight core test system as seen above.

POV Ray RTR Benchmark Chart

Results: POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing is a great benchmark that we love to use on Legit Reviews and it does a great job at showing how performance scales with CPU cores. Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 and E6750 were just a tenth of a Frame Per Second (FPS) apart!

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark 2006

3DMark06

Futuremark's 3DMark06 has a built-in CPU test is a multi-threaded DirectX gaming metric that's useful for comparing relative performance between similarly equipped systems. This test consists of two different 3D scenes that are processed with a software renderer that is dependent on the host CPU's performance. Calculations that are normally reserved for your 3D accelerator are instead sent to the CPU for processing and rendering. The frame-rate generated in each test is used to determine the final score.

Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results

Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The 3DMark 2006 CPU test shows us that quad-core processors are faster than the dual-core processors, but the overall score for the entire benchmark showed differently.  The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 was just slightly slower than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 in 3DMark06 testing.

Overclocking Results

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you will might be able to get.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Default Settings

With stock BIOS settings, the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 runs with a 266MHz bus speed and has a 9.5 multiplier that are used to reach the final core clock of 2.53GHz.  As you can see above, the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard FSB runs at 267.3MHz, so right out of the box we were running slighty higher than this at 2.54GHz. Let's start off by overclocking without adjusting any voltages to see what the E7200 dual-core processor can do out of the box.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Overclocking

The ASUS P5E3 Deluxe motherboard BIOS is very simple to use and to see what the processor could do with default settings we just had to increase the 'FSB Frequency' setting from 266MHz to 333MHz. Just by making this one adjustment the board really picks up some speed and you can feel it when using applications.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Overclocking

The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 operates with a 1066MHz quad-pumped front side bus speed, which is fast, but Intel has already released 1333MHz and 1600MHz FSB processors.  Just for fun we changed the bus speed from 266MHz to 333MHz and the system was stable and solid. This basically overclocked it up to Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 clock speeds, but remember the processor has less cache.  By increasing the FSB to 333MHz we could now run the DDR3 memory at 1333MHz versus the previous speed of 1066MHz.  It also allowed for the overall click frequency to increase from 2.54GHz to 3.17GHz.  Not bad for leaving everything in the BIOS on 'Auto' other than the Front Side Bus Frequency!

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Overclocking

While a 1333MHz quad-pumped front side bus speed is nice it would be really nice to reach 1600MHz, which is what Intel offers on their flagship processors.  It was possible to reach a bus speed of 400MHz, but we had to throw some series voltage (1.5V) at the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 to be able to reach these speeds. Now that a 400MHz bus speed was reached the overall click frequency to increase from 2.54GHz to 3.80GHz.  This is a 50% overclock! 

Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor Overclocking

The highest overclock reached was at 1.55V and it was at just 406MHz.  It looks like our hopes of breaking 4GHz have been dashed for the time being, but this is 51.9% higher than what we started with.  Overclocking varies from processor to processor and will void your warranty, so no complaints on this nice speed boost. We did drop the multiplier down to 6 and increase the bus speed, but we were only able to reach 450MHz with stability. 

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor Overclock Benchmarking

When it comes to benchmarks, the overclocked Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 was running nearly identical to the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500.  This makes sense as both processors use the same divider and only really differ with the amount of cache that they offer.  This benchmark obviously didn't make use of the extra cache and as a result the processors ran at nearly the same performance levels when the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 was overclocked. The overclocking helped the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 become more than a minute quicker and was nearly 34% faster than stock settings. 

Power Consumption and Final Thoughts

Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds. The systems ran with the power supplies, case fan, video card and hard drive model. To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement. For load measurements POV-Ray 3.7 was run on all cores to make sure each and every processor was at 100% load. All of the systems used identical hardware minus the motherboard and processor.

Power Consumption Results

Results: When it came to idle power consumption the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 consumed the least amount of power!  The entire system consumed just 127W at idle, which is impressive considering the test system has a water cooler hooked up to it. At full load the E7200 consumed what the Q6600 uses at an idle state!  Not only will this processor be a big hit because of the $133 price point, but it also is energy efficient!

The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Processor

Final Thoughts

The upcoming Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 looks to be a price versus performance winner from what we can tell from the time spent with our early sample. If the rumored price of $133 is correct and the retail versions overclock like ours did then this will be hands down one of the hottest dual-core processors this summer. Intel has perfected the 45nm process and every new processor series they release based on it exceeds our expectations. The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 is one of those processors.

When it came to performance, the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 at default clock speeds was not hands down faster than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, but we'd pick the E7200 over it any day since it can be overclocked up to a 1333MHz FSB with just a single BIOS setting adjustment. Factor in overclocking beyond that and you have a price versus performance winner as overclocks over 50 percent are hard to ignore.

Intel informed us that the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 is a 65W part, but it seems like it might actually be less.  Our power consumption numbers showed that the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 used significantly less power than the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 and performed nearly the same in the majority of our benchmarks. With less power consumption the processor puts off less heat, so another thumbs up for the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200.

With nothing bad to say about the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 and a rumored price at launch of $133, this is a value if we've seen one.

Legit Reviews Value Award

Legit Bottom Line: The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 processor brings low-cost 45nm dual-core processors to consumers that have all the overclocking abilities of the higher-end processors.