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TekSpek CPUs
Core 2

Core 2

Date issued:

What do I need for Intel’s Core 2?

There’s been a lot of hype about Intel’s Core 2 recently, even since they launched Core in fact. Words like Conroe, Badaxe and Allendale have been flying around. The bottom line is that Core 2 is the name of Intel’s latest line of CPUs, based on a new micro-architecture, designed for speed and efficiency.

So, we’re going to presume that you’ve read the reviews and now you’ve decided you want one. But what do you need to get a Core 2 desktop system up and running? That’s what we’re about to tell you.

What you’ll need
The Intel Core 2 desktop chips are, for the time being anyway, assuming the same packaging as Intel’s previous range of chips, then Pentium D and Pentium 4. They fit into motherboards with the LGA775 style ‘socket’. That means Core 2 will too. However, that doesn’t mean an LGA775 board supports Core 2.

So, choosing a motherboard for Core 2 takes some consideration. Some boards with the Intel i975X chipset will support Core 2. However, they need to be built with its power requirements met. Most boards manufactured after April 2006 should have what’s needed, but it’s always worth checking. Otherwise, Intel’s P965 series of chipsets are Core 2 willing and able, with solutions from 3rd parties like NVIDIA on the way too.

The next thing is memory. While AMD only recently released CPUs supporting DDR2, Intel has been using the technology for a while now. So, you will need DDR2 memory for a Core 2 system. If you already have some DDR2 memory, chances are it’ll work just fine, but you may well get more benefit from Core 2 by purchasing some RAM rated for higher speeds.

You’re going to need PCI-Express graphics with a Core 2 system too, as AGP has had its day. Of course, if you purchase a motherboard with onboard graphics, then this doesn’t apply.

Other than that, everything else in the system can be pretty much whatever you want. Bear in mind that newer motherboards have fewer IDE channels (often just one, now), instead preferring SATA. Also consider power requirements. Core 2 uses less power than previous generation Intel desktop CPUs, but don’t forget that if you’re building a gaming system, that other components such as graphics cards will still need enough juice.

Upgrading to Core 2 is no harder than any PC build. If you’re getting a i975X-based motherboard, make sure it’s a revision that supports the new processors. Beyond that, sensible choosing of components is all that’s really required.

So, to those now ready to take the plunge and purchase a Core 2 system, enjoy it!