Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Review
As both AMD and Intel continue to release a
plethora of new CPU's onto the market, Intel add their own spin to
the lot with the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 that is the first 45-nm desktop
CPU from Intel that not only boasts four cores but runs at an impressive
core frequency of 3Ghz.
Code named "Penryn", this new processor boasts a
12MB L2 cache, a new SSE4 instruction set and a 1,333Mhz Front Speed
Bus, making this one of the most powerful processors on the market from
the 1st of January 2008.
Features and Benefits of the Intel® Core™2 Extreme Quad-Core
Provides four independent execution cores in a single processor
package. Four dedicated processing threadshelp operating systems
and applications deliver additional performance, so end users
can experience better multitasking and multi-threaded
performance across many types of applications and workloads.
Intel® Express Chipsets offer an array of exciting capabilities
including dual graphics and deliver an impressive level of
performance for demanding users. Other third-party chipsets may
support Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processors; contact your
board manufacturer for compatibility.
Intel® Wide Dynamic Execution
Improves execution speed and efficiency, delivering more
instructions per clock cycle. Each core can complete up to four
full instructions simultaneously
Intel® Smart Memory Access
Optimizes the use of the data bandwidth from the memory
subsystem to accelerate out-of-order execution. A prediction
mechanism reduces the time in-flight instructions have to wait
for data. Pre-fetch algorithms move data from system memory into
fast L2 cache in advance of execution. These functions keep the
pipeline full, improving instruction throughput and performance.
45nm versions further improve this feature, with more efficient
methods of loading and storing data in main memory.
allocates the shared L2 cache to each processor core based on
workload. This efficient, dual-core-optimized implementation
increases the probability that each core can access data
from fast L2 cache, significantly reducing latency to frequently
used data and improving performance
Digital Media Boost
execution of Streaming SIMD Extension (SSE) instructions to
significantly improve the performance on a broad range of
multimedia and compute intensive applications. The 128- bit SSE
instructions are now issued at a throughput rate of one per
clock cycle, effectively doubling their speed of execution on a
per-clock basis over previous generation processors. 45nm
versions include a new Super Shuffle Engine, which improves
existing SSE instructions while enabling significant gains on
the latest SSE4 instruction set. SSE4-optimized applications,
such as video editing and encoding in high-definition
resolution, will see additional performance improvements.
Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT)3
hardware platform to function as multiple “virtual” platforms.
Intel VT improves manageability, limits downtime, and
maintains worker productivity by isolating computing activities
into separate partitions.
processor to access larger amounts of memory. With appropriate
64-bit hardware and software, platforms based on an Intel
processor supporting Intel 64 architecture can allow the use of
extended virtual and physical memory.
enhanced virus protection when deployed with a supported
operating system and prevents the code from infecting the
system. Memory can be marked as executable or non-executable,
allowing the processor to raise an error to the operating system
if malicious code attempts to run in non-executable memory.
† Warning: Altering clock frequency and/or voltage
may (i) reduce system stability and useful life of the system and
processor; (ii) cause the processor and other system components to fail;
(iii) cause reductions in system performance; (iv) cause additional
damage; and (v) affect system data integrity. Intel has not tested, and
does not warranty, the operation of the processor beyond its
1 The Intel® 975X Express Chipset only supports
QX6000 series with a 1066 MHz Front Side Bus.
2 For the Intel® Core™2 Extreme Quad-Core processor,
shared L2 cache refers to either 6 MB or 4 MB of L2 cache per core pair
resulting in a total L2 cache size of 12 MB or 8 MB. The 45nm version
has 12 MB of cache.
3 Intel® Virtualization Technology requires a
computer system with an enabled Intel® processor, BIOS, virtual machine
monitor (VMM) and, for some uses, certain platform software enabled for
it. Functionality, performance, or other benefits will vary depending on
hardware and software configurations and may require a BIOS update.
Software applications may not be compatible with all operating systems.
Please check with your application vendor.
4 64-bit computing on Intel architecture requires a
computer system with a processor, chipset, BIOS, operating system,
device drivers and applications enabled for Intel® 64 architecture.
Processors will not operate (including 32-bit operation) without an
Intel® 64 architecture-enabled BIOS. Performance will vary depending on
your hardware and software configurations. Contact your system vendor
for more information.
5 Enabling Execute Disable Bit functionality requires
a PC with a processor with Execute Disable Bit
We tested the QX9650 with SiSoft's Sandra,
a great benchmarking program that tested a variety of aspects of the
CPU. The SiSoft processor results scored over 55,000 with the Dhrystone
Alu, whereas the multimedia part scored a whopping 320,000 with the
Floating Point x4 iSSE2 and had great results all around.
Windows Vista, Windows XP, Adobe Photoshop
CS2 and WinRAR all performed remarkably well and in general it was
around 15% faster than the Intel QX6700 processor. I was pleasantly
surprised with Adobe Photoshop CS2 which is heavily CPU dependent and it
ran like a dream on the QX9650 with minimal slow down and this was a
result of insufficient memory. The latest Adobe is a beast when it comes
The QX9650 is also a speed demon when it
comes to number crunching and converting movies into DivX was
considerably faster than previous processors. Opening up large documents
in Word, Excel and even PhotoShop showed a significant speed increase.
Bioshock is a PC game that has won many
awards during 2007 due its amazing gameplay, graphics and storyline and
what better game to test the power of the QX9650?
Developed with the
Unreal Engine that supports the latest DirectX 10 instruction set, this
first person shooter is a visual master piece and the results of the
QX9650 speak for themselves.
1024x768 (Minimum Detail)
|AMD Phenom 9600
As you can see from the
above scores, the QX9650 performed admirably against the Phenom and
QX6700 that definitely proves this processor is the perfect gaming
Another game that was released late during 2007 was Crysis
that uses the CryENGINE2 system and was created by the developers of Far
Cry, one of the best first person shooter of 2006 and needless to say,
Crysis on PC is a phenomenal game.
1024x768 (Minimum Detail)
|AMD Phenom 9600
Once again the QX9650 is
the King of Hill in the world of Crysis that reached speeds of 154
frames per second, making this title a truly smooth experience. Even
when the resolution and detail was increased, although not performing
as well as a low resolution game, the title was still quite playable
with all detailed turned on.
The last gaming
benchmark we used was Quake 4 and without any questions, the QX9650 once
again outperformed all existing CPU's with the score results below.
those who are unaware of the Quake series, Quake 4 is a first person
shooter and although not as visually impressive as Crysis or BioShock,
it's a great benchmark to use with all processors as so many computers
can now run this game.
1024x768 (Minimum Detail)
|AMD Phenom 9600
In conclusion, the
QX9650 is definitely an impressive processor and it appears that Intel's
new 45-nm technology has once again proven that Intel are still the best
in the market. Unfortunately as with all new processors, especially
Intel, the price of the QX9650 is quite expensive and most users will
need to upgrade their motherboards before making this investment.
Whereas AMD's Phenom 9600 has a more wider appeal to existing AMD users
due to the backward compatibility of motherboards and processors.
However, if you are after the best and money is no option, than the
QX9650 is definitely the processor for you, whether its applications,
gaming or design, this processor has the grunt.