Intel raises Core 2 bus speeds, lowers prices

True to its plan, Intel has officially taken the wraps off of a new lineup of Core 2 processors, most of which are intended to run at 1333MHz front-side bus speeds. Thanks to the magic of time travel, we've already covered these developments in some detail here at TR, most notably with our preview of the Core 2 Duo E6750 processor and our review of the chipset that Intel created to go along with it, the P35 Express. Cliff's Notes version: we found the faster bus to yield only minor, marginal performance gains with dual-core processors but expressed hope for larger improvements with quad-core CPUs.

Folks from Nvidia have been hiding in the bushes outside of my window for most of the past week, periodically whispering that their nForce 600i-series chipsets were designed to support 1333MHz bus speeds. They say boards based on their own nForce 680i reference design are only a BIOS flash away from glory. I say they need to get out of the bushes.

At any rate, here's the whole new lineup of Core 2 processors, complete with pricing:

Model Clock speed Cores Bus speed L2 cache (total) Price
Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33GHz 2 1333MHz 4MB $163
Core 2 Duo E6750 2.66GHz 2 1333MHz 4MB $183
Core 2 Duo E6850 3.0GHz 2 1333MHz 4MB $266
Core 2 Quad Q6700 2.66GHz 4 1066MHz 8MB $530
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 3.0GHz 4 1333MHz 8MB $999

Intel says power (TDP) ratings for these new chips are the same as those they replace.

The sharp-eyed reader may note that these introductions represent not just a bus speed increase, but also a drop in price. The Core 2 Duo E6700 had previously been priced at $316, but its successor, the E6750, lists at just $183. Looks like Intel's long-rumored deep price cuts are coming to pass. Dual-core variants of the Core 2 now top out at 3.0GHz—and just $266.

Rumor has it Intel will cut prices on existing models next week, causing the Core 2 Quad Q6600 to land at $266, as well. If that happens, folks, it'll be buyin' time.

The new lineup's flagship model is the Core 2 Extreme QX6850. We've had the QX6850 on the test bench here in Damage Labs, but due to other obligations, I wasn't able to finish up a review for the launch today. One of my reasons for waiting is my desire to throw out all of our existing CPU test results and start over with new hardware, fresh drivers, and updated tests. For now, our Core 2 Duo E6750 preview should give you a sense of what to expect from the faster bus.

The QX6850 isn't the only bit of extremeness Intel is unleashing today, by the way. The company's also announcing a new mobile version of the Core 2 Extreme. The Core 2 Extreme Mobile X7800 runs at 2.6GHz on an 800MHz bus, has an unlocked upper multiplier for mobile overclocking action, and costs a healthy $851. X7800 chips are shipping now to PC makers, who will presumably stuff them into humongous laptops. Said laptops are scheduled to start heating up gamers' laps within the next two weeks.

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