A Brief Introduction

Intel E8600 Review

Intel Wolfdale color-enhanced die-shot.

Processors come in various revisions as the manufacturers test and modify the circuits that comprise the finished product. The previous Wolfdale stepping, C0, was introduced with all previous versions of the E8xxx, E7xxx, and Q9xxx series processors. If you need a quick refresher on what was introduced with the original 45nm processors, check out Nate's Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Processor Review.

Intel E8600 Review

The differences between the C0 and E0 steppings aren't much on paper. There is a new function called the Power Status Indicator that will let motherboards drop their VRM down from a multi-phase circuit to a single-phase circuit to save power when at idle. There were also two additional instructions added to the instruction set, XSAVE and XRSTOR, neither of which are world changing. This stepping also features a step towards being green with the introduction of a halide-free package, just another step towards being cleaner like the move to lead-free processors. So, since the processors are electrically, mechanically, and thermally identical to the C0 stepping, why do they deserve a brief review? Simply, it's all about that need for speed and the E8600 delivers.

Test System

Intel E8600 Review

Intel E8600 Review

I won't be using my X48 test-bed today as this review will predominately focus on overclocking and frankly X48 isn't the ideal platform for Wolfdale overclocking. Today I'll be using the Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme which includes Intel's P45 chipset with DDR3 support. I just received the new F3I BIOS from Gigabyte earlier this morning so that was loaded onto the board. The memory was run at 7-7-7-21-2T timings through all the stock speeds and varying times are noted in the overclocked results. The Gigabyte HD 4850 card that was used in the review has been volt modded and BIOS flashed to 850MHz on the core and 1125MHz on the memory, up from 625MHz on the core and 993MHz on the memory. Windows XP SP2 was used for the tests as this quick review was performed on my 3D Benchmarking operating system that was currently installed on the test hard drive.

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core 2 Duo E8600

Click Here

Motherboard

Gigabyte GA-EP45T-Extreme

Click Here

Memory

Corsair PC3-14400C7 Dominator 2x1GB

Click Here

Video Card

Gigabyte HD 4850 CrossFire

Click Here

Hard Drive

Seagate 7200.10 320GB

Click Here

Cooling

Box Cooler

Click Here

Power Supply

OCZ 700w GameXStream

Click Here

Operating System

Windows XP Professional SP2 32-Bit

Click Here

wPrime and Cinebench Results

Intel E8600 Review

Intel E8600 Review

Results: Completely expected, the E8600 is about 12% faster than the E8400 which makes sense as the E8600 has an 11% frequency boost over the E8400.

Super Pi and 3DMark 2006 Results

Intel E8600 Review

Intel E8600 Review

Intel E8600 Review

Results: Once again the E8600 comes out on top with a ~10% speed boost versus the E8400. Across the board in all applications this should be a common trend as aside from processor speed these chips are identical.

Overclocking Results on Air

Intel E8600 Review

This was the default frequency for the E8600.

Intel E8600 Review

This was the maximum FSB attainable on air cooling.

Intel E8600 Review

This was the maximum frequency attainable on air cooling.

On the stock box cooler, the E8600 overclocks rather well. There wasn't too much out of the ordinary here, although the chip does take slightly less voltage to hit similar frequencies compared to the C0 stepping. This is very good news for those users out there that enjoy overclocking. Since high voltages damage the processors, the lower voltage is better. With ease 4200MHz could be achieved for 24/7 usage on air cooling and 4500MHz on water cooling. Anything above 4500MHz should be taken as icing on the cake; this chip pulling 4737MHz with 1.4v is rather impressive.  Hitting 602FSB was no small feat with the memory clocked at ~2GHz; using a lower memory divider would yield even higher results.

Overclocking Results on Liquid Nitrogen


Intel E8600 Review

This was the maximum frequency attainable on liquid nitrogen.

Some of you may know my history with competitive benchmarking. I really enjoy overclocking and while overclocking on air is fun and sustainable, benching under a cascade or with liquid nitrogen results in much more fun numbers. 6GHz was easily attainable with the E8600 having an ungodly low 1.84vcore and I was able to bench between 6100MHz and 6200MHz depending on the benchmark. Consumers with single-stage phase change systems should be able to easily hit speeds of 5200Mhz to 5500MHz as I was booting at 5500MHz around -40 Celsius with ease. This is where the E0 stepping really shines, past 5GHz it just tears everything else to shreds and makes it look easy.

Intel E8600 Review

Conclusion

For most consumers the E8600 is just another speed bump in Intel's product line. For a small number of consumers the E8600 represents a means to hitting 4500+MHz consistently. For an even smaller portion of consumers, the E8600 makes the QX9650 and QX9770 obsolete for most benchmarking. Depending on where you sit in that break down, the E8600 may have immense value or be simply another expensive toy. Priced at $286 per processor, the E8600 costs $100 more than the E8500 which may be a tough bullet to bite for a 133MHz speed bump but I personally felt it was worth it.

Intel E8600 Review

With the new stepping I was also able to run the processor at a lower vcore at stock speeds. I was using 1.05v for 3.33GHz and under the QX9650 heatsink I was loading at only 45 Celsius. This is incredible and it only gets better as the frequency increases. I imagine this processor could easily run at stock speeds with a large passive cooler and run just fine.

Intel E8600 Review

If you already have an E8xxx or Q9xxx processor, don't feel pressured to buy the newest toy on the block as you won't gain much from it. Like all top tier processors, you pay quite a lot for very little and the $182 E8500 is a much more attractive choice for most consumers. Now, if you absolutely must have the fastest processor on the market or eat, sleep, and dream about overclocking then the E8600 should be in your shopping cart as you read this. Chances are this is as fast as it's going to get until Nehalem comes out, so you might as well get it now and enjoy it for a few months.

Legit Bottom Line: The E8600 is a speed demon for those willing to unleash it. The fastest processor on the market for only $286 is an incredible deal.