Last year was as exciting as it could ever get for Intel thanks to the success of their Core 2 Duo processor series, which also sparked the idea for the world’s first desktop quad-core processor.

There was a great deal of hype surrounding the Core architecture. During September of 2006 the Core 2 Duo was officially unleashed upon the world and the results were staggering. The E6700, which still remains as the flagship Core 2 Duo processor, wiped the floor with any and all existing processors. Furthermore, the pricing for these new processors was also very competitive, forcing AMD to greatly reduce the retail value of all their competing products.

As most of you should be familiar with by now, last year Intel released four Core 2 Duo models being the E6300, E6400, E6600 and E6700. This year Intel plans to greatly expand the Core 2 Duo family by introducing at least eight new processors. Surprisingly however, only two of these new processors are planned to be clocked higher than the existing E6700. The new E6800 and E6850 processors will be clocked at 2.93GHz and 3.00GHz, respectively, while the new E6750 will still operate at 2.66GHz. The rest of the processors are meant to strengthen the Core 2 Duo family in numbers, rather than in performance.

The E4300 and E4400 models are set to become the new lightweight kings. With a suggested retail value of $130 and $150 in the second quarter of this year, they are also going to be very affordable. Furthermore, due to the more limited 800MHz FSB, these processors should be able to work with a much broader range of chipsets and perhaps more importantly, overclock like mad. While the price of the E4300 is expected to fall to $130 during the 2Q, it is currently selling for around $170, pricing it very close to that of the E6300. The price drop is one of those things that is said to be happening eventually, but whether it will or not is anyone’s guess.

The E4300 is not listed on Intel's website yet and is still waiting to be officially introduced. That said, I was amazed to find two weeks ago, it was possible to purchase one of these processors in Australia from online vendors. Without wasting any time we snapped up an E4300 so that we could put it to the test, the overclocking test.

Paying full price the processor worked out to be $180, meaning the E6300 could have been purchased for roughly the same price. Had I not been purchasing this processor for the purpose of this review I would have just gone with the E6300.

The only real difference between the E6300 and E4300 is that the slower E4300 does not include Intel's Virtualization Technology. Ultimately this means almost nothing, as it will not affect the processor's performance or overclocking abilities. The E4300 core is not crippled in any way, so you can expect the same performance out of the E4300 if you were to lower the multiplier to 7x and raise the FSB to 266MHz. Having said that, the E4300 is essentially just an E6300 or even E6400 with VT disabled.

There appears to be quite a demand for the E4300 at the moment and we are not quite sure why. The processor is nowhere near $130, and at best users will pay $10 less for the E4300 when compared to the E6300. The E6300 is clocked 60MHz higher and runs on a 1066MHz FSB, it would seem the $10 saving is simply not worth it. However, the E4300 is (or should be) all about overclocking so we decided to give it a go, pairing it against our 3.50GHz E6300, which I should add overclocked easily using it along our new Gigabyte 965P-DS3P (rev 2.0) motherboard.

Although the 3.20GHz mark can be reached much easily and requiring no additional cooling, 3.50GHz is possible with an upgraded air-cooler. Therefore, it was decided that rather than using the Intel stock cooler, we would overclock the E4300 using the same after market air-cooler. The heatsink of choice was the Thermalright Ultra-120 paired with a 120mm Thermaltake case fan. Read on to find more.