The new Pentium E2100 processors offer exceptional performance at an amazingly low price point. Furthermore, these new processors have inherited many of the characteristics that helped make the Core 2 so impressive in everybody's eyes (everybody but AMD's, we assume anyway).
An example of this would be the overclocking capabilities of these new E2140 and E2160 processors. The E2160 was able to reach a stable 3.4GHz on the ASUS P5N-E SLI, while the E2140 managed 3.2GHz on this motherboard with third party cooling. Then when paired with the standard Intel box cooler a 3.0GHz overclock was possible without any added voltage.
The E2160 delivers exceptional performance for just $99, while the E2140 is also incredible at just $84. These new processors certainly fill the sub-$100 price range well, far better than the Pentium D processors ever could. For general-purpose Windows performance, the E2100 processors are more than powerful enough. Particularly for those that just want to run office applications as well as Internet and e-mail usage. Considering the overclocking potential of the E2140, for example, this $84 processor can be overclocked to 3.0GHz with ease and at this frequency it should rival the Core 2 Duo E6700.
However, if you have a budget that allows you to purchase a Core 2 E4000 series processor, which would be a better buy? Also, if you plan to overclock either option, which would be a better buy?
After spending two weeks testing the E2140 and E2160 processors I have come to a few conclusions. First of all, gamers will want an Intel dual-core processor with as much L2 cache as possible. This means that the ideal budget processor for gamers would be the Core 2 Duo E6320 at around $165, regardless of whether or not you plan to overclock.
Those that cannot afford a $165 processor should look at the E4300, which costs just $114 and was faster than the E2160 in all our gaming tests. While a 10% performance margin might not seem like much with a GeForce 8800 GTX, it is far more noticeable with a less powerful card like the GeForce 8600 GTS, for example. Therefore saving $20 on a processor is not really a smart idea for gamers.
Now, obviously if you were to purchase an E2140 or E2160 processor it would be best to pair it with an ultra-cheap motherboard that supports it. There is little point buying a mid-range motherboard which will probably cost slightly more than the processor. Unfortunately most cheap motherboards offer very little flexibility when it comes to upgrading and also offer very few features. While we have no problem recommending an E2000 series processor, as it is very powerful and speedy for the price, there is no denying that if you were to spend a little extra you could get a much better system. You will want to work your motherboard/CPU/videocard combo, and see how you can stretch the budget as needed, we are glad to have the new Pentiums.
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