NordicHardware posted this article today. They compared the impact of L2 cache size on chips running at the same core frequency. The difference? about 0-10% depending on application.
So does L2 matter? I guess that depends on the price you buy the chips at. Currently, U.S. Street prices show that to upgrade from 1mb cache (E21xx chips) to 2mb (E4xxx), the price difference doesn’t correspond well with performance increase. Using prices at one of my favorite online merchants, ZipZoomFly:
E2160 (1mb L2, 1.8ghz): $85 shipped.
E4300 (2mb l2, 1.8ghz): $120.50 shipped.
Price difference: $35.50
For the extra mb of cache, you pay ~42% more. For ~5% of extra performance, the E4xxx series are not worth the extra cost in my opinion.
Needless to say, to upgrade to an E6320 (frequency is not exactly the same, but similar, at 7*266 = 1862mhz), the performance difference increases to ~10%, but price also increases to $172.90, or more than twice the cost of the E2160.
So unless you need the Vanderpool/VT that comes on the E6xxx series, I would personally stick with the E21xx series chips. Much like the Celerons of yore, these chips are the real value busters of the Conroe/Allendale lineup.
Does L2 Matter? Sure they do. But price matters more– especially with Wolfdales and Yorkfields around the corner. 🙂