Yesterday Intel launched the last incarnation of the Kentsfield Quad core, the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850. We took a quick look at this 3GHz FSB 1333 CPU.
The QX6850 is the only Quad-Core with 333MHz, marketing speak: 1333MHz, FSB for desktops. For the stellar price of about €880/$1000 you receive two Core 2 Duo's in one package clocked at 3GHz, each with 4MB shared L2 cache. Intel is not yet in the race for a "real" quad-core, because it won't benefit in yields and clock-speed. AMD has been struggling with Barcelona for a year now.
We did use our standard benchmarks, most applications are limited to two threads, so no surprises in the results.
Cinebench 9.5 can utilize more than two cores:
We also checked the power consumption. The full load graph is only an indication, because it's hard to get all four cores at full load. Intel's TAT gave us 100% workload on two cores, while Super-Pi and 3DMark06 were allocated to the other two CPUs.
If you plan to buy an QX6850, don't expect any speed increases in most of your applications. Even the most popular codecs such as XviD and DivX are limited to two threads, which means no speed increase at all. You can encode and still have two cores free to do other things, like gaming while you are waiting for the video to finish. Some software vendors will support more than two threads, such as rendering software or Photoshop CS3.
Normal users will not benefit from a Quad core. For the price of one Core 2 Extreme you can buy a second system with a Core 2 Duo, but of course two computers will use more power then one, even with a Core 2 Extreme installed. For small companies or semi-pros who are involved in 3D rendering the QX6850 may be a nice addition compared to the costs of a Xeon-based workstation.
To be fair, this is the fastest Quad core processor around and if you want the best and you don't care about the money, get one of these. We will try to overclock it as well in part two.