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If for some reason you find yourself with a socket 775 motherboard and you need a CPU to put in it (maybe for a first time internet ready PC) then this is probably the bet bang for your buck. Ok so 2.4ghz dual core isn't world beating, but until recently I was still editing video, processing 100's of photos, and doing 3d rendering on this chip- so if it can do that, It can probably fly through most casual user's tasks. No need to spend £100's when you're just going to be writing a few documents, watching some video, browsing the internet. Most people these days have a computer powerful enough to plan a mission to mars but then only use it for pretty undemanding tasks.
The quadcore q6600 is the chip of choice from this era (the faster chips are much more expensive and not worth the extra), but if you don't want to pay the extra for a quadcore, then this dual core will do you fine.
If you buy it retail then it comes with a CPU cooler- which is ok but for better cooling and quiter performance you'll want to switch it out, but if you're not taxing your processor so the fan's stay on low speed you're probably ok with the standard cooler.
The Core 2 Duo E6600 is a dual core computer processor, intended for a 1066 socket motherboard.
==Fitting the processor==
The Core 2 Duo is relatively nice board to fit, at least on the motherboards I have tested it on. It slots in nice and easily, and the heatsink is rather easily attached. However, although it sounds positive - it's as much as I'd expect from a consumer processor, especially once made with the intentions of being built by the consumer.
There were no particularly noteable difficulties in placing the processor on the board, which is always a positive, especially for those building their first PC and those who are deeply worried they'll break something (you won't, especially if you follow proper instructions).
This is a dual core processor, and a particularly expensive one at that, and you'd expect for the price that it has been set, that it'd outperform most of its nearest competitors. The good part is that it does, the bad part is that it doesn't outperform the Phenom II x4 955, an AMD processor of the same price and double the cores, and a faster clock speed.
It's not ideal to have a processor worth less in terms of performance over another processor, but in some cases the user might prefer the brand name of Intel over AMD, simply because they will have heard more of it.
The processor has a four megabyte L2 cache, which by today's term is hardly top of the line, with the majority of processors, even those cheaper than this once having a four to eight megabyte L3 cache. The L3 cache would deliver far better performance, but price is king, and the expense you have to pay to invest in Intel processors will L3 cache is a large amount more than this Core 2 Duo processor.
The majority of desktop applications, such as Word, Powerpoint and web browsing appear to be fine with this CPU, and it wasn't causing any slow-down. In gaming tests, I placed an overpowered graphics card in the computer and played on highly CPU intensive but lowly GPU intensive settings to ensure that the CPU was the bottleneck. The majority of games worked fine, mostly playing at top end of settings. However, very CPU intensive games like Battlefield (particularly 3) ran into issues with framerate at times, nothing horribly bad though. However, poorly optimized Grand Theft Auto IV struggled along like a snail.
Specialist performance ranged in decency - the Photoshop tests had very few issues, even with large amounts of layers and effects being applied. The Vegas test was also pretty good, with video editing in application being handled with considerable ease, and the rendering being pretty speedy too - for what it was at least. The 3D animation tests, conducted on 3D Studio Max, were the least decent - although by no means awful. However, it's obvious by the price that this was not the obvious choice for 3D rendering enthusiasts.
The power consumption for the E6600 should be, at maximum, 65W. A number that, by all my accounts, is particularly correct. It's very power efficient, giving pretty decent performance at particularly low wattage. This is good for your electricity bill, and it means that you can save money buying a less powerful power supply. This makes the processor especially good for a budget build.
However, the processor shouldn't be used with a very cheap, unbranded power supply, not because it won't support the processor, but because if the power supply is to fail, it'll take down all the other components with it (in many cases), therefore it is never advisable.
As an estimate, the Core 2 Duo E6600 should work fine on a 350W power supply, although if you possibly can I'd go higher, if only to reduce the risk of needing an upgrade next time you change a component, due to increased power draw.
==Is it a furnace?==
Thankfully no. The maximum temperature that the E6600 can withstand is 60C, but it rarely even begins to touch on temperatures of that height. It runs pretty cool with stock cooling, even under particularly high levels of processor strain.
I'm told that on the stock cooling, it's actually a pretty good overclocker - that is if your motherboard actually supports processor overclocking, mine doesn't - so that'll just have to remain a grey area in my review. My friends that have overclocked this processor say that it can safely reach near 3GHz, an improvement on 0.6GHz upon the stock clocks.
However, if you intend on overclocking, I'd really recommend that you go with one of the Sandy Bridge processors, particularly the i5 2500K. I hear nothing but good things from overclockers with that processor, more so even than me and my i7 920, a pre-Sandy Bridge i7 processor.
==The Technical Stuff==
The Core 2 Duo E6600 is a dual core processor, it is not hyperthreaded (which is the act of splitting up processor cores to produce different 'threads', so that processes can work as if there are four cores on the processor, which is can cause an improvement for some users). It uses a 65 nanometre architecture (it's larger than a lot of processors architectures) and has an FSB Speed of 1066MHz.
It should not, in any circumstances, overheat beyond 60.1C, and if it does, it requires to be cleaned out urgently. It does not support high-tech Intel features like 'Intel Turbo Boost', but it does at least support 64-bit operating systems, as well as 32-bit operating systems. It will not, however, work with an ARM-based operating system (no surprises there). It also does feature 'Intel Speed Step', for increased overclocking support.
The manual is pretty nice with the E6600, as it is with practically any Intel CPU. It includes many languages, allowing multi-lingual computer builders to build in their preferred language, as well as diagrams showing you how to fit the processor into your motherboard, just to help you ensure that you're OK with the installation.
The manual also features a variety of warnings and what you've got to do to fit the CPU successfully, which is nice, especially considering that it is an expensive piece of kit, and any sane person who is doing this for the first time will want to know exactly how to fit it to prevent breaking anything. The good thing is that the processor is amazingly easy to fit, and the manual only serves to make it easier, putting even the most inexperienced builder at ease.
This is the breakdown of the hardware. It's where I show you what the processor is good for, and score it out of ten.
General Use: The processor is pretty good for general use, it holds up on simple everyday tasks like word processing, publications and web browsing just fine - making it a perfect processor for a large portion of the population.
Gaming Use: Newer games will struggle, such as Battlefield 3 and GTA IV due to the lack of cores, especially since the Xbox 360 has three cores, and that's what a lot of games use and optimization between platforms is generally quite poor. You should try looking for a hyperthreaded dual core like the Sandy Bridge i3 or a physical quad core like the Phenom II X4 955 at least if you're considering any particularly strenuous game.
Enthusiast Use: Photoshopping is fine, as is video editing. There is nothing wrong with any of that, apart from perhaps the slightly slow rendering times, but that's not too much of an issue. For 3D rendering, this is not the best processor. It's a tad slower to render, but that's not much of an issue, but any serious 3D editor will use a better processor.
The E6600 is a pretty good processor, but it's not the best for enthusiast or gaming use. However, if you just need something cheap for your computer, perhaps for your mother or fathers computer, than this is a pretty obvious choice, especially since it won't punch your electricity bill straight through the nose.
The Intel Core 2 Duo range has seem to surpass that of AMD. This CPU comes in LGA 775 socket which will leave gamers with smiles on their faces with only buying a CPU and not a motherboard. The E6600 scores high in the Sandra benchmarks and beats the AMD CPU's considerably. AMD has been leading the way for game performance with their CPU's, but Intel have come back in a bang with the fastest CPU's to date. Buyingng this CPU's will be economical it's going to be the best for a long time.