Is the (raw performance) of Core2 Duo/Quad still viable?

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,635
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I was going to start this thread a few hours ago, but now I've got some actual comparisons to make my case.

I went looking at Gigabyte Brix mini-PCs on ebay, at the low-end of prices.

There were some Celeron J1900 Bay Trail Atom units for ~$150, some Celeron 3205U Broadwell units for ~$185. I also looked up a comparison with our old standby, an E8400 Core2Duo 3.0Ghz CPU for comparison.

What I saw, kind of surprised me a bit.

Passmark for each CPU:

E8400 ST / MT: 1254 / 2172
J1900 ST / MT: 533 / 1879
3205U ST / MT: 859 / 1687

Ok, so the E8400 is from 2008, is 65W TDP, and is 3.0Ghz.
The J1900 is from Q1 2014, is 10W TDP, and turbos to 2.4Ghz.
The 3205U is from Q2 2015, is 15W TDP, and is 1.50Ghz.

Granted, the J1900 is a small-core quad-core, the other two are big-core dual cores.

So, I was originally going to simply ask, "Is the Core2 (represented by an E8400, a $6 chip on ebay), still a viable CPU even today?".

But given the comparison with some modern mini-PCs, that people actually use (myself included in that, I have several J1900 units), it seems that the answer is a rhetorical "Yes". At least to me.

I'm looking forward to the Goldmont-core / Apollo Lake Brix quad-core Celeron unit, to see how it performs, especially single-threaded, to see if IPC can reach Core2 levels.

I know that most of the enthusiasts on this forum have moved on from Core2, but there's still a few holdouts here and there.

While it isn't as power-efficient (no power-gating) as modern CPUs, nor quite as high-performance, I will ask what opinions are on the current viability of Core2 Duo/Quad, for primarily web browsing, but also, video-editing (casual only), and gaming.

Not from a performance / watt perspective (yes, it sucks), but only from a raw performance perspective.

Edit: Alternatively, discuss what would happen if Intel produced a 14nm shrink of Core2 Duo/Quad and added power-gating. Would we all be using one? Those of us with mini-PCs? How does Goldmont compare to a hypothetical 14nm Core2 core?

Edit: Another way to put the initial question would be, "If you currently have a Core2-era rig, and you're doing a complete upgrade, do you junk, or pass on / re-use the Core2 rig (if it's still viable)?".

I guess I can open the questions up to include the AMD equivalents of Core2, the Athlon II, Phenom II, and LLano.

Edit: Anyone with a contrary opinion, that Core2 just isn't viable any more? Would a certain member from .au care to comment? I know that you seem to want a quad-core with lots of RAM and an SSD, for just web browsing. Give reasons, and remember, performance / watt is already agreed to be poor for Core2 rigs.

Anyone care to compare the raw performance for web browsing, between a Core2 rig and a Bulldozer or derivative core rig? I know that personally, I find that LLano is just as good or better than a single-module / dual-core Trinity or Richland chip, in my personal subjective opinion, for web browsing.
 
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nurturedhate

Golden Member
Aug 27, 2011
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There are still large amounts of people using p4's out there. From a used part, hand me down, just something to do simple tasks on the c2d or c2q are relatively functional and in a majority of cases would perform better than some atom box.
 

nismotigerwvu

Golden Member
May 13, 2004
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For Office work and web browsing a high enough clocked C2D still works well enough. An SSD makes a massive difference too. With high enough clocks, a C2Q or Phenom II X4 holds up fairly well in gaming too. I'm running a 955 B.E at 3.6GHz and a 7950 in my primary rig and while it's starting to show it's age, it still games quite nicely. In some cases, it even becomes GPU bound (or appears so based on usage %).
 

AtenRa

Lifer
Feb 2, 2009
13,652
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Core 2 Duals and especially Quads are more than viable for today, if you pair them with a new dGPU they even make good Gaming systems for older games.

I have just ordered a Lenovo USFF refurbished system with Core 2 E7500 just to play with it ;)
 

Valantar

Golden Member
Aug 26, 2014
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My main PC is still an (OC'd) C2Q Q9450. Runs at 3,52GHz rather than the stock 2,66, which is why it's still tolerable. I've been considering replacing it for the past three years, but it's always been superceded by more pressing needs (GPU, SSDs and a whole new HTPC). This winter/spring, though, it's going bye-bye. Considering that even Rocket League gives me occasional CPU-induced stutters, it's time to repurpose this chip.

For surfing, though? It's perfectly fine. Video editing? I don't do much, but it's served me all right. Photoshop? Okay for my needs.

I have a hope of rigging it into a pfsense router, freeNAS rig or something like that, but it'd make a fine surfing computer too. Would probably back off on the OC outside of gaming though, even if it hardly exceeds 70 degrees under OCCT with a Hyper 212 Evo. I probably got lucky in the silicon lottery, but HWMonitor reports this (with the OC) never exceeding 87W. Not the worst power efficiency I've seen.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,635
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I'll say, for the last 6 years or so, I've been running a Q6600 (underclocked), in a Gigabyte EP35C-DS3R board, with six ICH9R SATAs, and two Jmicron SATAs, as an unRAID server board. It died just last week, when I tried powering it on again, after a month or two of downtime. I think that the PSU finally gave up the ghost, after 5-6 years of nearly continuous operation. That, or maybe the used mobo died.

For that duty, the Core2Quad was actually a bit overkill.

I've got an new FM2 board with eight SATA ports, and a CPU, and some DDR3 RAM, and a case with eight 3.5" HDD bays, to re-build the server. Once I do, if the Q6600 + mobo survived, then I'll probably throw them into a non-server ATX case, and donate them somewhere. So I guess that's my vote, that a Q6600 is still a viable browser / general-purpose PC CPU.
 
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Burpo

Diamond Member
Sep 10, 2013
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I'm beginning to wish this old Gateway would die, but it came with a 700 watt PS and still going strong since 2008. I did replace the Q6600 with a Xeon X3230 a few years back tho. Still does the job.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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C2Q and C2D (especially E8400 and better) are still viable.....definitely.
 
Feb 4, 2009
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Core 2 Duals and especially Quads are more than viable for today, if you pair them with a new dGPU they even make good Gaming systems for older games.

I have just ordered a Lenovo USFF refurbished system with Core 2 E7500 just to play with it ;)
My Q9650 still games pretty well at medium for most games. Admittedly I added a newish video card but its still a viable option provided you have reasonable expectations.
 

lolek86

Junior Member
Nov 13, 2016
8
1
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e7200 @ 3.16ghz here. With 840evo, 8800gts and 4x 1GB sticks of ddr2 it's still capable machine. for browsing, sillky smooth on edge , chrome.stutters quite a lot in latest versions on everyting that isn't simple forum page In last weeks system crashes often when playing 1080p or above video but it might have something to do with 8800gts which has been reanimated in oven two times:D

It's almost time :) Waiting for kaby i3/i5 /oc/non oc news and and more zen news and planing to pair it with 3200 ddr4 and 480. Lust is growing every day , Guys, am I for revelation or not ? and i have FCAT in my eyes :DWhat do you guys think is more important to snapiness of boot/launch times of system/programs ? core count or high clock ?

BTW nice forum, lurking since long time ago.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,635
7,321
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I'm beginning to wish this old Gateway would die, but it came with a 700 watt PS and still going strong since 2008. I did replace the Q6600 with a Xeon X3230 a few years back tho. Still does the job.
That's actually really impressive, that an OEM PSU would last 8 years.

My Enhance 500W with Jpn caps only lasted 6 years, I think.

Edit: Back on topic: I'm not under any sort of delusion that the Core2 architecture is used for any sort of HPC tasks these days.

Lack of an IMC and lack of vector extensions like AVX, and lack of HyperThreading, really hurt Core2's raw computational competitiveness compared to modern CPUs.

But the enormous (relatively-speaking) L2 cache present on the higher-end models really helped, to a point. Some computational tasks (in BOINC) are really quite memory-bound on Core2 machines, unfortunately.

Still, it was quite a significant leap forward in performance from Netbust.

I think once Atom catches up with the IPC and clocks of Core2, in a 10-15W envelope, it will finally be over completely for Core2.

Btw, how are the stocks for refurb business Core2-era desktops doing? Most resellers that I checked at the beginning of the year didn't have much Core2 inventory left.

So, have most businesses gone through their Core2 machines, and what of those that were still usable, have been resold, or shipped overseas to "developing nations", or scrapped entirely, thus the glut of Core2 CPUs on ebay? (Some vendors selling lots of 20 E8400 CPUs for $80.)
 
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Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,174
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I mainly use business apps, along with surfing, email, and 1080p h.264 video playback. VPN too.

My main Windows desktop is an AMD triple-core 2.9 GHz Athlon II X3, which is desktop Core 2 Duo class. It has 8 GB RAM an SSD though.

My main laptop is a Core 2 Duo 2.26 GHz Mac. It also has an SSD, but only has 4 GB RAM, and is feeling a bit slow these days. It is more than usable though. I will likely be replacing it in 2017 with a 4.5 Watt Kaby Lake Y Core i7, but mainly because I want something lighter and with longer battery life and a better screen. Performance will also be improved, but that is a secondary concern. I could speed up this Core 2 Duo a bit with 8 GB RAM, but I don't want to do that because I'd have to spend the money on not just the RAM but also a new battery. I'd rather put that money towards a new lighter machine with all-day battery life and high ppi screen. Oh and h.265 HEVC playback in hardware. My Core 2 Duo can't do that.
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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As a University of Maryland student, the E8400 was on their batch of upgraded desktops from the Pentium 4s they initially had when I got there in spring 2007. Compared to the P4s and the Celeron derivatives, it was a lightning bolt when tabs were few.

For a light browsing box that does not require video playing, the E8400 still provides more tolerable interfacing than those CPUs with worse ST performance like Atom.

I wouldn't use a system with an E7200 or less though.

But sites can be quite script heavy. Like all those news sites. Those with a bunch of tabs open on Election night would have a much different experience with a Ivy Bridge i3 through i7 at approximately 3.5GHz compared to an E8400. Even with two cores disable but Hyperthreading enabled, Chrome on an i7-3770K with 50-100 tabs open(RAM maintenence disable) tore through script heavy maps of Politico, Cnn, etc with no hardly any lag even on a spinning hard drive.

Core 2 needs a GPU to remain viable since the Intel GMA graphics is garbage. For a small business needing something cheap, where video playback is not of paramount importance, it can get by, but no way should a Core 2 box be bought for more than $100.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
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I think once Atom catches up with the IPC and clocks of Core2, in a 10-15W envelope, it will finally be over completely for Core2.
Going by Passmark, the Apollo Lake Pentium J4205 (with dual channel DDR3 1600) @2.6 Ghz turbo comes very close to the single thread of the Q6600 @ 2.4 Ghz:

J4205:

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+J4205+@+1.50GHz&id=2877
(ST= 901, MT= 2329)

Q6600:

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Quad+Q6600+@+2.40GHz
(ST=923, MT= 2983)

However, (as seen above) in Multi-thread Apollo lake is still respectively behind Q6600 for whatever reason.

P.S. Compared to Bay Trail Pentium J2900 (below), I do find it interesting that Apollo Lake Pentium J4205 (above) is much better in single thread (901 vs. 600) but not that much better in multi-thread (2329 vs. 2048).

J2900:

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Pentium+J2900+@+2.41GHz (ST= 600, MT= 2048)

SIDE NOTE: Apparently Passmark has a way to screen out OC results from the stock speed average, but at one point (prior to turbo multipliers) the screening did allow for a 15% clockspeed variance. In any event, Q6600 results do include DDR3 (as well as DDR2)....so that is something to consider if wanting to compare strictly to C2Q with DDR2.
 
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cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
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ASRock J3355 Mini-ITX finally shows up at Newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157726&ignorebbr=1

So I imagine we should see a Passmark score fairly soon.

(I wonder how it compares to C2D in ST and MT?)

Some 2C Braswell, 2C Bay Trail, C2D Passmarks to compare to:

Braswell Celeron J3060:

(ST= 558, MT= 1068) http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Celeron+J3060+@+1.60GHz

Bay Trail J1800:

(ST= 549, MT =1024) http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Celeron+J1800+@+2.41GHz

C2D E6600:

(ST= 904, MT = 1554 ) https://cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Duo+E6600+@+2.40GHz

E8400:

(ST= 1254, MT= 2172) http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Duo+E8400+@+3.00GHz

Obviously the E8400 will be out of reach, but maybe Single thread could be close to the E6600?
 

hojnikb

Senior member
Sep 18, 2014
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If you're on a market for a used desktop, picking up something like dell of hp with i5 2400/2500 is still by far the best value. You can get those for like 120-130$
 

Brunnis

Senior member
Nov 15, 2004
502
56
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Last night I uploaded my Passmark result for the Pentium J4205, so there are now two results available. My result is a bit better than the previous one available:

CPU Mark: 2461 (915 single threaded score)

More benchmarks here: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/the-intel-atom-thread.2341969/page-187#post-38575947

Also, no idea why scaling seems so bad between single core and multi core scores in Passmark on this particular CPU. Cinebench scales much better, though, while Geekbench 4 scales only slightly better than Passmark. Maybe memory access bottleneck? Will be interesting to see if 1866 MHz memory improves the situation over the 1600 MHz RAM I'm currently using.

EDIT: Also interesting to note that the Passmark single threaded results for Bay Trail seem curiously low... I would not expect the J4205 to be 70% faster in single threaded performance compared to J1900.
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
9,534
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The performance is fine for a web browsing box, sure. But they are getting old and unreliable.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,635
7,321
126
But they are getting old and unreliable.
Interesting point. I had totally overlooked the reliability aspect, since my two surviving Core2Quad rigs have Gigabyte P35 boards with solid caps, that I guess I assumed would last nearly forever.

Board of that era, without solid caps, may be failing by now.
 

hojnikb

Senior member
Sep 18, 2014
562
45
91
pretty much all cheap asrocks from that era are either dead or will die soon enough.

As for core2 itself; it's still a pretty capable architecture and still very usable. It's just that power consumption is high for its performance and media playback can be an issue with newer formats like hevc.

But if you can grab an OEM pc for something like 20-30$ and a cheap 60gb, you got yourself a very capable pc on cheap for everyday tasks.
 

Hi-Fi Man

Senior member
Oct 19, 2013
601
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My mother still uses a Phenom X4 9750 in her main desktop I built her awhile ago. It now has an OCZ arc 100 240GB SSD but runs great for what she uses it for (web browsing, Citrix remote desktop, and PDF viewing/editing). Most of the parts are original vintage 2009 parts; 2x2GiB DDR2 800 MT/s Mushkin, Cooler Master 334 nVIDIA edition, OEM Radeon HD 4670 (ATI card in an nVIDIA case!), MSI 785GTM-E45, Antec Earthwatts 380D, and Cooler Master Hyper TX3.

Core 2 and yes even K10 are still relevant and in many cases better than the low end OEM trash that's out there.
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
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More benchmarks here: https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/the-intel-atom-thread.2341969/page-187#post-38575947

Also, no idea why scaling seems so bad between single core and multi core scores in Passmark on this particular CPU. Cinebench scales much better, though, while Geekbench 4 scales only slightly better than Passmark. Maybe memory access bottleneck? Will be interesting to see if 1866 MHz memory improves the situation over the 1600 MHz RAM I'm currently using.
I noticed the J1900 has only slightly better quad core scaling in Geekbench v4 compared to J4205 (1107 ST/2904 MT vs. 1643 ST/4679 MT)....... so yeah, I wonder what is going on in passmark with the J4205?

EDIT: Also interesting to note that the Passmark single threaded results for Bay Trail seem curiously low... I would not expect the J4205 to be 70% faster in single threaded performance compared to J1900.
It is actually 52% faster (915 vs. 600).

Maybe you were looking at the J1800 Single thread passmark score of 549 I posted earlier?
 

monkeydelmagico

Diamond Member
Nov 16, 2011
3,961
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The "raw" performance of the Core 2 duo/quad is irrelevant when a ready to run refurb i3 machine with OS can be bought from ebay for around $100.-
 

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