Final thoughts

Reaching 3.20GHz using either the E4300 or E6300 was quite easy and I believe most of these Core 2 Duo processors will at least reach this frequency. That said, we were able to push our E6300 to 3.50GHz and the E4300 to 3.47GHz. While both processors achieved similar frequencies they used very different settings to achieve them, nevertheless real-world performance was much the same.

The advantages of the E4300 other than being slightly cheaper, is that the FSB (front side bus) does not need to be nearly as high to achieve the overclock. The advantage of this is that the DDR2 memory frequency can be lowered below 800MHz whereas the E6300 is forced to run DDR2-1000 memory.

So those wanting to overclock the E4300 processor to the max will not require more expensive DDR2 overclocking memory. Essentially the E4300 can be altered to operate at exactly the same specifications as the E6300 with the only difference being the lack of VT technology. If you were to increase the FSB from 200MHz to 266MHz and reduce the clock multiplier from 9x to just 7x, the E4300 would in fact become an E6300.

Initially I found myself questioning the worth of the E4300, particularly at this point in time. However when you think about it, the E4300 and E6300 are the same processors. So whatever the E6300 can do, the E4300 should be able to follow with some minor alterations.

With all that under consideration, we don't believe the E4300 will ever become a hot item unless it drops in price well below the E6300's $180 range. The Intel Core 2 Duo E6320 and E6420 are going to be introduced in the 2Q, around the same time that the E4300 should drop in price. These two new processors are going to be alternatives to the existing E6300 and E6400, effectively replacing them and featuring the larger 4MB L2 cache. That leaves the E4300/E4400 to eventually become what the E6300/E6400 are today, the budget 2MB L2 cache Core 2 Duo processors.

Although the E4300 is not nearly as much of a bargain as we had hoped for, there is no denying the impressive overclocking abilities of this processor. The E4300 managed a 93% overclock using air cooling. Paired with the Gigabyte 965P-DS3, users are looking at a sub-$350 combo that is potentially capable of defeating any standard Core 2 Duo/Extreme system.

While we are recommending the E4300 to all those budget overclockers out there, we are not suggesting you rush out and order one right away. If you can wait a little longer until the E4300 is officially announced and more readily available, hopefully then prices will have fallen a bit, making the E4300 somewhat irresistible.