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The Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Boxed processor is my first try at the world of dual-core (and eventually multi-core) processing. After building my computer consisting of the Intel processor, EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard and EVGA 8800 GTX graphics card, topped up with 2 GB of Corsair XMS2 8500 RAM, I was ready to make another attempt at overclocking.
Immediately after purchasing the CPU, I bought a cheap heatpipe fan solution, which didn't keep the CPU cool enough, when running above 3.15 GHz, so I had to upgrade to a Zalman Copper fan later on, which cost around 35 pounds.
The CPU now runs at 3.2 GHz, which is by no means a record, but it is enough and the fan is really quiet, so I can leave it running even when I am sleeping (leaving it to crunch some data).
The 4MB cache makes sure that there is a nice buffer of data for the ALUs and FPU pipeline to keep working, although the theoretical performance is usually never 100% utilised, due to the lack of software making use of multi-threading (apart from some newer games).
If I had the chance now, I would probably go for the QX6600, since it has four cores. Being a computer science graduate, high performance computing is one of the things that interests me, but the E6600 hasn't let me down yet and was at quite a good price point when I bought it in christmas.
Mounting the heatsink is very painful though, since the standard Intel design for the fan clips needs some thinking when mounting them.
If you are trying to upgrade from single to multi-core, make sure that you have your Windows installation at hand, since you need to reinstall Windows with the new hardware to detect SMP (otherwise it will only show one core in the task manager).