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Conclusions
Based on what we've seen, one can't help but conclude the Core Duo's performance per watt is unmatched in the world of PC processors. The Core Duo is obviously the best mobile CPU on the market, more than doubling the peak performance of the Pentium M while operating in the same power envelope. What's more shocking is the fact that the Core Duo T2600's outright performance is easily superior to Intel's supposed flagship desktop processor, the Pentium Extreme Edition 965. Given its performance, the Core Duo is clearly well-suited for desktop use, where performance is king but quiet computing is still a blessing. Not only that, but at under $700, the Core Duo T2600 costs less than the Extreme Edition 965. The lesser models are more affordable and a better value, such as the T2400 at 1.83GHz that might tempt us away from one of our favorites in that price range, the Athlon 64 X2 3800+. Even the Asus N4L-VM DH's rough edges are blunted somewhat by the fact that this board isn't your typical mobile-on-desktop prima donna; its suggested retail price is only $159.

This combination makes the Core Duo Intel's most attractive processor for PC enthusiasts, and that proposition could become downright irresistible if Asus or somebody else can deliver a mobo and BIOS with the kind of tweaking options PC enthusiasts have come to expect. The T2600 can't quite take the overall performance crown from the likes of the Athlon 64 FX-60 or the X2 4800+, but jeez, it's startlingly close. If we could get the Core Duo overclocked reasonably well, it might just be able to make a run at the title of the fastest x86-compatible CPU—or at least grab a share of that title.

As it stands, the Core Duo is an excellent choice for a quiet desktop PC or a silent gaming rig, and it's perfect for a home theater PC, where the 64-bit memory space issue isn't likely to rear its ugly head for at least several years. Were it not for the fact that Core Duo can't handle 64-bit addressing, I'd say Intel should transition its desktop and server product lines to this microarchitecture right now rather than waiting for Conroe, Merom, and Woodcrest.

Macophiles have to be reading these words with a certain glee, given that Apple has already transitioned several of its products to Core Duo, including the iMac. They should be pleased with the performance and power efficiency of Apple's new chosen engine—or at least they should once universal binaries are widely available. They've gotta be thinking that the severe case of whiplash from the "Intel sucks"-"Intel rules" about-face was worth it. The Pentium Extreme Edition scores in this review even gives them plausible cover for the dissonance. I'm happy for them. TR

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