Mid-way through 2006 we saw the launch of Intel’s most impressive processor series in recent times, the Core 2 Duo. At the time the flagship model was the E6700, featuring a 2.66GHz clock frequency, 4MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB, and a 65nm design process, all of which was topped off with a price tag of $530. Today we are looking at a processor with similar specifications with one major difference, that being the estimated retail price of just $133.

The new Core 2 Duo E7200 is the first member of the “Wolfdale-3M” family. You may remember that not so long ago we looked at the new Wolfdale family of 45nm processors, which consists of the E8200, E8300, E8400 and E8500 processors. These still remain today as the fastest Core 2 Duo processors, offering superior performance and efficiency not to mention stellar overclocking abilities.

The Wolfdale-3M family is, as you may have guessed, a cut-down version, and as the name alludes to, these processors feature a smaller 3MB L2 cache and a 1066MHz FSB. With the Core 2 Duo E7200, Intel is offering a 45nm processor that is considerably more affordable than the cheapest Wolfdale (~$180), and even undercuts other budget oriented models such as the E6550 that roughly costs $160, while the E4700 is also more expensive at around $140.

The Core 2 Duo E7200 operates at 2.53GHz, making it slightly slower than the E4700, though it will make up for this with a greater FSB speed and extra L2 cache. More importantly as a 45nm chip it inherits the added efficiency the original Wolfdale CPUs are known for.

The Core 2 Duo E7200 is already available at $133, so there is no question regarding the legitimacy of its suggested retail price as there was with the E8400.

Then the only big question left to answer now is how does this 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo chip with 3MB of L2 cache perform? This and more will be answered very shortly, as we will throw the usual batch of tests at the E7200 and compare it to a range of Intel and AMD processors.