And so to a clear winner. In most regards, there's little to choose between this and Intel's more affordable E6300 Core 2 Duo model. Both are specified with the more compact (and cheaper to make) 2MB shared cache memory but still produce respectable performance.

However, it's during overclocking that this chip comes alive, hitting 3GHz, and not only cranking out performance numbers that would have been utterly unbelievable for a budget chip a year ago, but also coming painfully close to matching the likes of the premium-priced Core 2 Extreme X6800.

Crucially, the E6400 sports a CPU multiplier of eight. That may only be one higher than the E6300, but it translates into an extra 400MHz or so of operating frequency and makes overclocking that little bit easier.