Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - Intel QX9650 Architecture; Test System

The Intel Core 2 Duo QX9650 is Intel's second fastest consumer processor; where the flagship is the QX9770. The QX9650, like all Core 2 Extremes, have unlocked multipliers both up and down. It doesn't come cheap at a retail price of approximately $1000 each at press time; but you do pay for the performance.

Based on the new 45nm revised Penryn series core, this Yorkfield core CPU is a full fledged quad core processor with 2x6MB L2 cache (12MB in total). Because Yorkfield processors -- or any Intel quad cores, for that matter -- are really two dual core dies in a package to make it a quad core processor, this makes it 6MB L2 of unified cache per two cores. AMD has been advertising their Phenom X4s as "native quad cores" (Monolithic), while Intel processors aren't, but in the end it doesn't seem that AMD's overall package offered better performance than Intel CPUs. The QX9650 runs at an impressive 3GHz. The FSB is rated 1333MHz theoretical for the quad pumped design. The multiplier is 9x to compliment the 333MHz actual FSB to result in its 3GHz clock speed, which is unlocked both upwards and downwards. Generally speaking, you can easily tune the FSB to 1600MHz QDR with a proper motherboard and settings -- pretty much every Core 2 CPU we've come across has no problem doing that, but you may have to drop the multiplier slightly. Yes, four cores operating at 3GHz stock with 2x6MB L2 cache is absolutely impressive.

Another advantage of Intel's 45nm transition is not only restricted to ridiculously overclockable processors as we've seen with the 65nm CPUs. Power consumption is also improved with the die shrink on Penryn CPUs -- it operates at a lower voltage too. To most people, it doesn't really matter, but lower power consumption means less heat and more overclocking potential. We'll examine the specific CPU power consumption later in this review. On the other hand, being able to run at around 1.25V at stock speed, imagine what you can do once raising the voltage to something like, 1.37V -- which is generally quite safe for Core 2 CPUs. Intel specifies a 130W TDP, although I personally do feel that's a bit conservative because the processor actually ran slightly cooler than my E6600 in the same setup. The E6600 has a 65W TDP.

The Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 also adds support for SSE4.1 instructions as per all Penryn processors; as all modern CPUs go it has 64-bit extensions (x64, but most people would like to call it simply a 64-bit CPU), Execute Disable support, and excellent processor throttling when not under load with Intel SpeedStep. Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) and hardware virtualization acceleration is a given, unlike Intel budget oriented processors. But if you are paying for one of the best processors in the consumer market, you do expect everything, right?

In order to run the latest 45nm CPUs, you'll need to make sure your motherboard supports it -- not all LGA775 motherboards support Penryn CPUs. You'll want your motherboard to have the latest BIOS revision flashed. I first tested this processor in an Asus P5E3-Deluxe, then moved it to a Striker II NSE, and finally tested it on our test platform running a Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 -- all without any issues. I had no problems flashing the BIOS after I installed the CPU despite being not officially recognized; where all modern motherboards should be capable but this really depends on what motherboard you own.

We tested the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 CPU in our test platform, with the following specifications:

CPU Cooling: Asus Arctic Square
Motherboard: Gigabyte X48T-DQ6
Graphics: Gigabyte GeForce 8800GT TurboForce
Memory: OCZ ReaperX HPC PC3-10666 2x1GB (6-5-5-18 1T)
Chassis: Danger Den Torture Rack (1x Thermaltake 120mm LED Fan)
Power: Tagan TurboJet 1100W
Sound: Integrated Realtek ALC889A
Optical Drive: Liteon 16X DVD-ROM
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar 7200RPM 80GB 8MB Cache
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3

Compared hardware
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (1066MHz FSB, 266*9, 2.4GHz, 4MB L2, 65nm Conroe, Retail Box)
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 (1066MHz FSB, 266*9.5, 2.53GHz, 3MB L2, 45nm Wolfdale, Engineering Sample)
- Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (1333MHz FSB, 333*9, 3.0GHz, 2x6MB L2, 45nm Yorkfield, Engineering Sample)

The Core 2 Extreme QX9650 has all the advantage in its hands -- clock speed, more cache per core (6MB unified every 2 cores), and since it has two more cores than the rest, multithreaded benchmarks will heavily favor this processor.

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. Intel QX9650 Architecture; Test System
3. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
4. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: 3DMark06
7. Benchmark: Cinebench R10
8. Benchmark: SYSMark 2007
9. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M; Overclocking
10. Power Consumption and Conclusion