Power Consumption and Conclusions
Idle power was taken at the Windows desktop while load results were taken from a multi-threaded CineBench run.
If the power consumption on the original Core 2 Duo processors impressed you, then the QX6700 should do the same. Here we can see that idle, the Intel QX6700 only uses 17 watts more power than the dual-core E6700. At load, that gap jumps up to 69 watts or so; but compared to the FX-62 that uses 256 watts, getting four cores in that power level is pretty impressive. AMD finds itself in a position of higher power consumption and lower efficiency for the first time in many years — I’ll be curious to see what their answer is to graphs like these. After all, server environments will go nuts over higher performing / lower power consuming parts; just ask the Opteron product managers.
While it took decades for consumer to get dual-core processors available in large quantities, it only took months to move up to four. With Intel’s Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor, user’s can get quad-core processing power on their desktop system today. But does it makes sense to make the move now?
Judging the performance on the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is largerly dependent on what benchmarks we wish to side with. Starting with the negatives, you no doubt noticed that the quad-core QX6700 was slightly slower than the dual-core E6700 processor in many benchmarks in all tests that are single threaded or dual-threaded. The reason for quad cores coming upo slower centers around the two cores being on seperate dies and needing to communicate over the front-side bus — the same FSB needed to access the memory controller and all other parts of the system. With all of the data between transfered between the two cores over the FSB, this slightly slows down the regular FSB traffic in and out of the processor for memory access, hard drive access, peripheral access, etc. Also, any time an appliction that uses two threads, and those threads get put on different dies, getting communications between them is slower from need to use the FSB to cross between the caches. Had those threads been on the same die, then they could have easily shared data in their combined L2 cache.
On the other side of the table, in applications that have the ability to use more than two threads, the performance gains are impressive. DivX, DVD Shrink, Windows Media Encoder, CineBench, Pov Ray are all real applications that saw very noticeable performance gains moving from dual-core to quad-core processing. Pov Ray is like the poster child for multi-core processing, with a nearly unthinkable 100% gain rendering performance. There are other applications that can use four or more threads for their processing, including the latest versions of Adobe Premiere, Photoshop and Encore, Sony Vegas Studio, 3D Studio Max 8 or 9, and Quicktime Pro. You can see the trend here: video and image editing software and rendering software; these are the traditional highly-parallel applications besides gaming that can take advantage of threading to speed up processing. As more and more users adopt home movies, editing, etc, the need for faster processors like the QX6700 is going to increase.
Intel also provided a list of games that have or will have quad core support in them: THQ’s Supreme Commander, Alan Wake, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Unreal Engine 3 and Splinter Cell Double Agent. How these titles use quad cores has yet to be seen, but you can be sure I will be testing them all very soon.
So you have two seperate viewpoints: on single threaded apps the QX6700 is going to be slower than the E6700, and of course the X6800 that runs at 2.93 GHz. If you do anythink like we showed you using Pov Ray, DVD Shrink or DivX (or other apps listed above) then the speed up provided by the quad-core QX6700 might well be worth the investment over the X6800. Gamer’s will probably be happier with the X6800 for the immediate future, but that will gradually change as the game engines becomre more adept and taking advantage of four cores.
The Intel 975X chipset isn’t anything new; it has been around for quite some time in fact. And that it supports AMD/ATI’s CrossFire technology isn’t news either. It is still by far the most reliable chipset I have ever used, and the Intel 975XBX2 motherboard fits that mold perfectly, while adding in some more overclocking and tweaking options for the enthusiast. Stability and overclocking? How good is that!
What might be interesting to you is the upcoming release of NVIDIA’s new 680i chipset. This chipset is a completely new product that offers all kinds of impressive features, as well as probably the best overclocking potential I have seen anywhere. In fact, new with the 680i chipset, is the release of an NVIDIA designed and built motherboard, sold by their partners with nothing major different between the products.
Click to Enlarge
Think of it like the GeForce graphics card scenario: BFG, EVGA and XFX buy the boards from NVIDIA, slightly alter them and then sell them in the US. The same is going to be done with the new 680i chipset; expect BFG Tech, EVGA and XFX models to make it to market this month.
Pricing, Availability and Compatibility
As with all of the Extreme Edition processors that have been released from Intel in the last few years, the pricing on the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is slated for a $999 MSRP. Availability should be ready for November 14th. If pricing can hold at that $1k mark, I’ll be impressed, as online vendors usually the mark-up prices higher for the first couple weeks of hype. I’ll have to wait and see how the QX6700 does in terms of availability throughout the month and update here when possible.
But for $1000, is it worth the money over the E6700 or even the Athlon FX-62 processor which are both tagged at nearly half the price? (Core 2 Duo E6700 – $499 and AMD Athlon FX-62 – $689) That’s a tough call — if you are only interested in single-threaded apps or gaming, then I’d say probably not, and to use that extra money on a better GPU. However, if you do any kind of home media work with the applications we mentioned above and being ready for four-core processing, then I think you have a reasonable argument for going after the first quad-core processor.
Another issue is motherboard compatibility — so far I am being told that any motherboar that supports the Core 2 Duo processors will be able to run with the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 with a simple BIOS update. I am starting a thread in our Intel motherboard’s forum to see what boards users have had success or problems with getting the QX6700 to work with.
Intel’s new Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is probably the fastest processor we have ever tested. Though some may argue that the prevalence of single threaded applications over multi-threaded ones is a reason to keep with single-core CPUs, that may hold true for some people for now but it won’t last much longer. The move to multiple core processors has forced the software vendors to make the change as well, and having a quad-core processor in your system now will be like running the system of the future, today. If you do any kind of rendering work or multimedia work, or are just a heavy multi-tasker, then the value of multi-processing isn’t lost on you, and the QX6700 will feel right at home in that environment.
I have started a thread in our processor forum to discuss this review, and I will answer any questions you have for me in there!
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on the Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 CPU, and anything else you may want to buy!