Core 2 Duo E7200 CPU Review
By Gabriel Torres on June 5, 2008
Intel will launch a new Core 2 Duo series, E7xxx, in the second half of 2008. Just like the E8xxx series this new series is codenamed “Wolfdale” and will be manufactured under 45 nm process using the Penryn core. We had the opportunity of reviewing the E7200 model, which runs at 2.53 GHz with 1,066 MHz front side bus and 3 MB of L2 memory cache – half the cache compared to the E8xxx models. Let’s take a look at the performance from this forthcoming CPU.
Core 2 Duo E7200 will be the first Core 2 Duo running at 2.53 GHz, a clock frequency between the 2.40 GHz used by Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E4600 and the 2.66 GHz used by Core 2 Duo E6700, Core 2 Duo E6750, Core 2 Duo E8190 and Core 2 Duo E8200. All these CPUs have, however, a different front side bus and memory cache configuration. So in order to help you to see the differences between them, we compiled the table below.
L2 Memory Cache
Since currently there is no Core 2 Duo CPU running at the same clock rate as E7200, we will compare it to the Core 2 Duo CPUs with the closest clocks and specs, E6600 (2.40 GHz) and E6700 (2.66 GHz), to see the impact of the smaller L2 cache and the new clock rate.
This new CPU does not support virtualization technology but supports SSE4.1 and comes with a TDP of 65 W. TDP, Thermal Design Power, is how much power the CPU dissipates, meaning that you must match the CPU with a cooler capable of dissipating that amount of power.
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the CPU being benchmarked.
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
The new PCMark Vantage program simulates the use of real-world applications and gives scores for the following categories:
For a detailed description of each one of these tests, please download and read the PCMark Vantage Reviewer’s Guide.
You can see the results for each category below. We are not going to compare the results for the Memories and HDD suites.
On the overall PCMark Vantage score Core 2 Duo E7200 achieve a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6600, with Core 2 Duo E6700 achieving a score 3.67% higher than Core 2 Duo E7200’s.
On TV and Movies benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6700, achieving a score 13.86% higher than Core 2 Duo E6600’s.
On PCMark Vantage’s gaming benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6700, achieving a score 7.05% higher than Core 2 Duo E6600’s.
On Music benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to both Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E6700.
On Communications Core 2 Duo E6700 achieved a score 6.02% higher than Core 2 Duo E7200’s, while the reviewed CPU achieved a score 3.84% higher than Core 2 Duo E6600’s.
On Productivity benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to both Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E6700.
With VirtualDub we converted a full-length DVD movie to DivX format and saw how long it took for this conversion to be completed. The DivX codec is capable of recognizing and using not only more than one CPU (i.e., more than one core) but also the new SSE4 instruction set, so we expect that CPUs with SSE4 support reach a higher performance here.
The movie we chose to convert was Star Trek – The Motion Picture: Director’s Cut. We copied the movie to our hard disk drive with no compression, so the final original file on our HDD was 6.79 GB. After compressing it with DivX, the final file was only 767.40 MB, which is quite remarkable.
The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.
VirtualDub supports SSE4, a new instruction set that is available on Core 2 Dup E7200 but not on Core 2 Duo E6600 or Core 2 Duo E6700. So we made two tests here, with SSE4 support disabled ("w/o SSE4" on the above chart) and with SSE4 enabled ("w/ SSE4" on the above chart).
With SSE4 disabled, Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6700, being 7.38% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
But when we enabled SSE4 support performance increased 24% and Core 2 Duo E7200 was 22.44% faster than Core 2 Duo E6700 and 29.61% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
The best way to measure performance is by using real programs. The problem, though, is creating a methodology using real software that provides accurate results. For Photoshop CS2 there is a methodology created by the folks at GamingHeaven that is very accurate. Their script applies a series of 12 filters to a sample image and we wrote down the time taken for each filter to run. At the end, we have the results for each individual filter and we simply added them up to give the total time taken to run the 12 filters from GamingHeaven batch. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the number the better.
On this test Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6700, being 5.65% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
Cinebench 10 is based on the 3D software, Cinema 4d. It is very useful to measure the performance gain given by having more than one CPU installed on the system when rendering heavy 3D images. Rendering is one area in which having more than one CPU helps considerably, because usually, rendering software recognizes several CPUs. (Cinebench, for instance, can use up to 16 CPUs.)
Since we were interested in measuring the rendering performance, we ran the test called “Rendering x CPUs,” which renders a “heavy” sample image using all available CPUs (or cores) to speed up the process.
On Cinebench Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance similar to Core 2 Duo E6700, being 10.73% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
3DMark06 is the latest version of 3DMark franchise, measuring Shader 3.0 (i.e., DirectX 9.0c) performance. We run this software on its default configuration (1280x1024 resolution with no image quality settings enabled) and besides the 3D score given by this program we also compared the results from its internal CPU benchmark.
On 3DMark the three CPUs included in our comparison achieved similar performances. This shows how nowadays the video card is the major player in 3D performance.
On 3DMark’s CPU benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved the same performance level of Core 2 Duo E6700, being 11.19% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
3DMark Vantage is the latest addition to the 3DMark series, measuring Shader 4.0 (i.e., DirectX 10) performance. We ran this program on its default configuration (“Performance” profile), which is run at 1280x1024. We also included the results for the CPU benchmarking done by this program.
Here again the three CPUs included in our comparison achieved similar performances. This shows how nowadays the video card is the major player in 3D performance.
On Vantage’s CPU benchmarking Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved the same performance level of Core 2 Duo E6700, being 9.21% faster than Core 2 Duo E6600.
We upgraded Quake 4 to version 1.4.2 and ran its new multiplayer demo id_perftest at 1280x1024x32 with SMP option enable (which allows Quake 4 to recognize and use more than one CPU), under two scenarios: first with image quality settings configured at “low” and then with image quality settings configured at “high.” You can check the results below, given in frames per second.
On Quake 4 is where probably the smaller memory cache showed some difference. With video quality set to “low,” Core 2 Duo E6700 was 6.57% faster than Core 2 Duo E7200, while Core 2 Duo E6600 was 3.94% faster than the reviewed CPU.
Enabling image quality settings Core 2 Duo E7200 achieved a performance on the same level as Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Duo E6600.
Even though we got an engineering sample with its clock multiplier unlocked we only played with the external clock, since this is the only option regular users have to overclock their CPU.
First tried to increase the CPU external clock from 266 MHz (“1,066 MHz”) to 333 MHz (“1,333 MHz”) and the CPU worked just fine at an internal clock rate of 3.17 GHz.
From there we started increasing the CPU external clock rate until we got the maximum clock with our system running stable. This was achieved at 353 MHz (“1,412 MHz”), with our CPU running internally at 3.35 GHz. This is an outstanding 32.41% increase on the CPU internal clock rate. Holy cow. At this configuration our memories were running at 1,062 MHz (we were using DDR2-1066 memories) and we locked the PCI Express clock at 100 MHz. Under this overclocking we could achieve 201.92 frames per second on Quake 4 with image quality set to “low.” This represents a 10.31% performance increase on this game.
We honestly hope that the commercial version of Core 2 Duo E7200 also has this same overclocking capability.
Core 2 Duo E7200 will be a great alternative to Core 2 Duo E6600. It was faster or achieved the same performance as Core 2 Duo E6600 in almost all tests we conducted (the only exception was on Quake 4 with no image quality settings enabled, where Core 2 Duo E6600 was faster probably due to its larger cache).
Good news is that this forthcoming CPU achieved the same performance as Core 2 Duo E6700 in almost all tests, even though it runs at a lower clock rate and has a smaller memory cache. This can be explained by the different core they use, probably proving that the 45-mm Penryn core is more efficient than the previous 65-mm core. The only times we saw Core 2 Duo E6700 being faster than Core 2 Duo E7200 was on PCMark Vantage overall score, PC Mark Vantage’s Communications benchmark and Quake 4 with no image quality settings enabled.
If you have an application with SSE4 support this CPU will be terrific, as 65-nm Core 2 Duo don't bring support to this new instruction set. When we enabled SSE4 support on VirtualDub performance increased 24%, showing the power of SSE4.
Thus for the average user Core 2 Duo E7200 will be a great alternative to both Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Duo E6700.
Core 2 Duo E7200 showed a tremendous overclocking capability and here in our lab we could set it running at 3.35 GHz internally and 353 MHz externally, a 32.41% increase on the CPU internal clock rate. We honestly hope that the Core 2 Duo E7200 that will reach the streets has the same overclocking capability than the engineering sample we’ve got from Intel. If this is true you will be able to easily transform your Core 2 Duo E7200 into a higher clocked CPU.