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Intel Socket LGA775: Best CPU Options To Suit Any Budget

Finding the best LGA775 CPU for your budget can be quite a task. Intel started producing processors for their LGA775 ‘Socket T’ back in 2006, and brand new CPUs can be hard to find. Some refurbished models change hands for small fortunes, so it’s an advantage to know the full range of LGA775 CPUs before you buy.

And so to help you, we’ve put together this guide to the five best LGA775 CPUs available today. Our choice includes high-performance processors that are great for moderate gaming, and low power models that run cool for day-to-day use. We’ve also quoted an industry-standard CPU benchmark (PassMark), so you can base your choice on some science.

In order to cater for all budgets, we’ve included some Amazon Renewed products (sometimes labelled as ‘Certified Refurbished’). These have all been professionally inspected and come with a warranty, so you can be certain the processor will work as specified. (Please note: this is not the same as buying a ‘used’ product.)

However, the very rare processors that sell for, frankly, outrageous prices, are not included. The Core 2 Extreme X9770 may be the most powerful LGA775 processor ever, but it’s hard to justify paying over £600 for a 12-year-old chip. Yes, £600! — check it out on Amazon if you don’t believe us!

OK, that’s enough about what’s not included, let’s get to the good stuff! Here are our ‘five of the best’ LGA775 CPU choices.

 

Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX 9770
The legendary Core 2 Extreme X9770 remains the fastest ever LGA775 CPU | Image Credit: Tim Martin at cpu-world.com

 

Best LGA775 CPUs: Our Top 5 Choices (Updated Nov 2020)

Here’s a list of the LGA775 CPUs that we’ve chosen to include. To jump to a particular review, just click on the product name.


Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650: Best for Raw Power

CPU Benchmark: 2,355 | Cores: 4 | Threads: 4 | Frequency: 3.00 GHz | TurboBoost: No | Unlocked: No | L2 Cache: 12 MB | Bus: 333 MHz (1,333 virtual) | TDP: 95 W | RAM Supported: Up to DDR3, dual channel | Graphics: No | Released: Q3 2008

Apart from the overpriced Extreme X9770, this is the fastest LGA775 CPU that you can buy brand new today. Launched in 2008, the Q9650 pairs 12 MB L2 cache with a blazingly-fast 3.00 GHz clock speed, which is pretty close to Intel’s current Core i5 range. Gamers and video editors will welcome the quad architecture, which will overclock to 4.0 GHz and beyond.

A power-hungry quad core processor generates a lot of heat, and the Q9650’s TDP of 95W is quite high. So you’ll need to fit an efficient CPU cooler, such as the Noctua Premium. You’ll also need a separate GPU, as LGA775 chips don’t come with integrated graphics.

The C2Q 9650 uses a PCI-Express Gen 2 connection, which doubles the transfer rate of the older version, and supports both DDR2 and DDR3 RAM. You’ll need to check your motherboard model to ensure it supports the Intel Core 2 Quad range.

Our View

For raw processing power that doesn’t cost the Earth, the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 is unbeatable. It’s long been the favourite of the tech forums, and we have no hesitation in recommending it as a fantastic CPU for LGA775 motherboards.

Features

  • Realistically, the most powerful LGA775 CPU available
  • Quad core for better multi-thread performance
  • Very fast 3.00 MHz clock speed
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x)
  • Thermal Monitoring Technology

Intel Core 2 Duo E6550: Best Budget Option

CPU Benchmark: 833 |  Cores: 2 |  Threads: 2 |  Frequency: 2.33 GHz |  TurboBoost: No |  Unlocked: No  |  L2 Cache: 4 MB |  Bus: 1,333 MHz |  Voltage: 1.3625 V |  TDP: 65 W | RAM Supported: Up to DDR3, dual channel  |  Graphics: No |  Released: Q3 2007

Intel’s Core2 Duo range were hugely successful processors when they were released in 2007, setting the stage for the X38 chipset launched the following year. The E6550 is one of the less-powerful Core2 Duos, but it offers an OK performance for everyday applications.

The first of its type with the faster 1,333 MHz data transfer bus, the initial launch price was $163 (£125), although today’s refurbished units cost less than 10% of the original price. The refurbed units are usually sold as ‘processor only’, meaning without a heatsink, so you’ll need to arrange cooling. Any budget-priced CPU cooler would be perfect for this, as the TDP of 65 W is relatively low.

The locked multiplier on this chip limits overclocking options, but speeds of 3.2 GHz have been achieved, which can help when running more demanding applications. If you do want to go the overclocking route, don’t forget to check the highest clock speed that your motherboard will support.

Our View

Honestly, the only reason to buy this processor is the extremely cheap price. It will run older applications without any trouble, but the dual-core/dual-thread architecture is very limiting. However, if you’re repurposing an old 775 socket PC and looking for a cheap, no-fuss processor, then this could be just the job.

Features

  • Very cheap!
  • Fast 1,333 MHZ data bus
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x)
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology

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Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300: LGA775 Sweet Spot

CPU Benchmark: 1,969 |  Cores: 4 |  Threads: 4 |  Frequency: 2.50 GHz |  TurboBoost: No |  Unlocked: No  |  L2 Cache: 6 MB |  Bus: 333 MHz (1,333 virtual) |  TDP: 95 W |  RAM Supported: Up to DDR3, dual channel |  Graphics: No |  Released: Q3 2008

If you’re looking for a fast quad core processor but you want to stay below the £200 price point, then this is a great option. Released at the same time as the Q9650 (see above) and using the same 4-core, 4-thread architecture, the Q9300 runs at a slightly lower frequency and has half the amount of Level 2 cache.

That being said, the performance hit is minimal, with a reduction of 15% in processor speed (single thread rating) and an overall difference of just 17%. For all practical purposes, most users won’t notice any real difference — this is still a high-end processor.

Paired with a suitable mid-range graphics card, such as the GeForce GTX 1030, the Q9300 is capable of decent gaming performance. Admittedly, some AAA games that need Intel’s AVX extension will struggle to run on this chip, but that’s true of any Core 2 Quad.

Our View

We think this is the sweet spot for LGA775 CPUs. There’s more than enough power on tap, and the loss of Level 2 cache is barely felt. If the cost of a brand new boxed unit is a bit high, look for the cheaper refurbed units also available on Amazon.

Features

  • Quad core for better multi-thread performance
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x)
  • Thermal Monitoring Technology

Intel Xeon X3360: Core Alternative

CPU Benchmark: 2,230 |  Cores: 4 |  Threads: 4 |  Frequency: 2.83 GHz |  TurboBoost: No |  Unlocked: Yes  |  L2 Cache: 12 MB, 24-way associative |  Bus: 333 MHz (1,333 virtual) |  TDP: 95 W |  RAM Supported: Up to DDR3, dual channel |  Graphics: No |  Released: Q2 2009

Intel’s Xeon processors were originally designed for corporate servers, but power PC users soon realised that they would fit Socket T motherboards. Importantly, Xeon processors are made of more robust silicon than home use CPUs, meaning they can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. This is particularly great for gamers, who will also appreciate that the clock multiplier has been unlocked, making overclocking a lot easier.

Optimised for repetitive and concurrent instructions, the X3360 is great for running processor-heavy applications such as video encoding and complex spreadsheets. And if you overclock it and fit a great graphics card — like the low-profile version of the GTX 1050Ti — you’ll have the beginnings of a capable gaming rig.

We should point out that although the X3360 will fit the LGA775 socket, some Xeons have a different pin configuration designed for the LGA 771 socket. There is a workaround, involving carefully-placed stickers, but it’s not foolproof and could fry your motherboard. For that reason, we’ve not reviewed any of those Xeon models, even though they’re often very powerful and cost-effective.

Our View

Using server processors in a home PC is not always a good idea, but the LGA775 / Xeon CPU pairing is a good one. In some cases, especially processor-intensive applications, the X3360 CPU is a perfect choice, and it’s great for overclockers. The Xeons are comparable alternatives to the Core 2 range, and the Xeon X3360 is definitely worth a look if you want the power.

Features

  • Fast quad-core processor
  • Unlocked Clock Multiplier makes overclocking easy
  • Optimised for processor-heavy uses
  • High-quality silicon

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Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600: Best All-Rounder

CPU Benchmark: 1,752 |  Cores: 4 |  Threads: 4 |  Frequency: 2.40 GHz |  TurboBoost: No |  Unlocked: No  |  L2 Cache: 8 MB (2×4 MB) |  Bus: 266 MHz (1,066 virtual) |  TDP: 105 W |  RAM Supported: Up to DDR3, dual channel |  Graphics: No |  Released: Q4 2008

The Q6600 is a well-loved example of the Core Quad 2 range, mainly because it can be overclocked to a stable 3.0 GHz and higher. Like many LGA775 CPUs, this will support DDR3 RAM, but if you plan on overclocking then two DDR2-800 sticks might be a better option — this will let you run it up to 3.2 GHz.

A unique feature is the L2 cache, which is split so that each pair of cores shares 4 MB. For older applications that can’t use all four cores, a single core can grab up to 4MB of cache to prevent overloading. Either way, the CPU intelligently makes use of all four cores and four threads, helping to speed through processor-hungry tasks.

The rated TDP is a hefty 105 W. Some versions that you’ll find on Amazon are brand new except for packaging, and they come with a heatsink and a fan. During normal use, features such as Enhanced SpeedStep mean the included fan and heatsink will be sufficient for cooling duties. However, overclocking can quickly heat the processor, so you’d need to invest in a separate CPU cooler.

Our View

Well over twelve years old, the C2Q Q6600 is still a popular processor, and the cost of an unboxed model means you get all the power you need at an incredible price. This Q6600 is a great all-rounder, and it’s somehow fitting that it’s the last of our review models.

Features

  • Unique L2 cache core sharing system
  • Can be overclocked to 3.0 GHz +
  • Unboxed items are very affordable
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT-x)

In Closing

That brings us to the end of our review. We hope we’ve helped you in choosing the best LGA775 CPU for your needs, or perhaps you were just gathering information. Either way, thank you very much for reading our guide. If you have any tips or suggestions about Intel CPUs and sockets, please get in touch.

 

ntel core2 quad logo
The Core 2 Quad processors dominate the high-end LGA775 CPUs | Image Credit: intel.com

FAQ

What is the fastest LGA775 processor?

The fastest LGA775 processer ever made is the Intel Core 2 Extreme X9770, (CPU Benchmark = 2,622) which was produced between March 2008 and December 2009 on Intel’s ‘Skulltrail’ platform. It has a clock speed of 3.20 GHz, 12 MB of L2 cache, and a Front Side Bus speed of 400 MHz virtualised to 1600 MHz. When it was introduced, the retail price was $1,499 per processor.

Because the multiplier is unlocked, the QX 9770 processor is easy to overclock and speeds of over 4.0 GHz are regularly attained. Incredibly, an overclocking enthusiast achieved a speed of 6.12 GHz in July 2009, although that used an advanced nitrogen cooling system and only lasted for 15 seconds. Still, it’s possible!

Because it’s such a well-regarded processor, boxed unused QX 9770s are difficult to find. At the time of writing, there are some boxed models available on Amazon , although they might be gone by tomorrow.

What is the best LGA 775 CPU?

The best LGA 775 CPU (discounting Intel’s ‘Extreme’ range), is probably the Core 2 Quad Q9650, which only loses 0.7 per cent in processor speed to the most powerful chip ever. On top of that, it’s 30 per cent more energy-efficient, so you’ll spend less on cooling. In all other important metrics, the difference is negligible apart from the price, which is about a third of the QX 9770!

Of course, ‘best’ doesn’t always mean ‘most powerful’ — sometimes it means finding a good all-rounder. In that case, our choice is the Core 2 Quad Q6600, which is the last CPU in our reviews above.

Does Socket 775 support i3?

No. Socket 775, also known as LGA775 and ‘Socket T’, went out of production in 2011. Core i3 processors use newer socket types, which are numbered 1150 and above. Therefore, socket 775 does not support Core i3 processors; nor will it support Core i5, i7 or i9.

To find out which processors your Socket 775 supports, there’s a  great guide put together by PassMark, who provide the CPU benchmark that we use for our reviews. Some older motherboards won’t support all the processors listed in the guide, so check your manufacturer’s website for any limitations.

Does LGA 775 support DDR3 RAM?

Most of the LGA775 processors will support DDR3 RAM, but it also depends on the motherboard you use. A lot of older motherboards won’t support DDR3, so you’ll be limited to DDR2 which is less efficient and more expensive.