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Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 review




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Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300


Our Score:


Intel’s Core 2 Q9300 processor is fabricated using the 45nm Penryn process that we first saw in Benny's review of the Intel Core 2 Quad QX9650, which is a lovely CPU if you don't mind forking out £480. Thankfullly, the Penryn process is also used in more down-to-earth CPUs such as the dual core E8500, which is where things get interesting for most of us.

When we reviewed the E8500 in March 2008 it had a price of £182 but since then we’ve seen a surprising amount of price compression among the Intel dual cores. The 3.16GHz E8500 has dropped to £123, the 3.0GHz E8400 is £110 and the 2.66GHz E8200 is priced at £106. Who the heck would buy a £106 processor when you can get the next speed bump for only £4 more?

This reduction in price for the Wolfdale dual core Penryns leaves the £150+ price bracket open for affordable Yorkfield quad core processors which is where the Core 2 Quad Q9300 comes into the equation. It has a relatively slow clock speed of 2.50GHz which is achieved by a 7.5x multiplier and a 333MHz/1,333MHz front side bus which is matched by a price of £173. Now that’s cheap for a Yorkfield as faster models shoot past £200 and head for £390 with the Q9550 and upwards to £480 for the aforementioned QX9650.

Things aren’t entirely as they might appear, though, as most Yorkfields have 12MB of L2 cache with 6MB for each core while the Q9300 only has 6MB with 3MB per core. The rest of the features are just as you’d expect from a Penryn which is a significant advance from the 65nm Kentsfield including support for the SSE4.1 instruction set. The move to the 45nm process has allowed Intel to reduce the core voltage from a nominal 1.3V to 1.2V, which in turn reduces the TDP from 105W to 95W.

This leads us to wonder how the Q9300 compares with the Core 2 Q6600 which is our absolute favourite processor in the whole of overclockdom. We’ve had our sample of Q6600 for the best part of a year and it’s done sterling service overclocking from its standard speed of 2.4GHz to the dizzy heights of 3.4GHz. Scour the web and the Q6600 crops up time and time again as a champ of a processor and its appeal isn’t hurt one little bit by price cuts that have taken it below £120. Indeed, Intel is taking the fight to the 65nm AMD Phenom by slashing the prices of its own 65nm models and Q6600 is in the thick of that particular battle. Moreover, the Q6600 wipes the floor with Phenom; period.

So, with AMD out of the equation, with the Q9300 we wanted to know how the £117 Q6600 compares to this new £173 chip. For starters, and most obviously, you get an extra 100MHz with Q9300 but that’s certainly not worth an extra £56.


July 25, 2008, 2:12 pm

Your q6600 sample, is it the old stepping on the newer G0?


July 25, 2008, 2:34 pm

"Things aren’t entirely as they might appear, though, as most Yorkfields have 12MB of L2 cache with 6MB for each core while the Q9300 only has 6MB with 3MB per core"

The Q9300 has 4 cores, so surely that's 1.5Mb per core :p


July 25, 2008, 2:36 pm

I don't understand this review - or rather the results...

The graphs all show that the overclocked Q6600 beats the Q9300 on all accounts except for power usage (due to the manufacturing process no doubt) However your written results hint at the Q9300 being better...

Surely going by the results visible the Q6600 is the better option if you want performance/overclockability? How did the result "well worth the extra money. Kentsfield is history and Penryn rules the heights" come from the Penryn on test losing all tests (bar power) to the Kentsfield?


July 25, 2008, 4:34 pm

It's quite simple really. You can get the same performance for considerably less power. Ok, you're paying a little more for the power saving but then there are other reasons why you'd want to save power than just reducing your electricity bill.

Leo Waldock

July 25, 2008, 6:24 pm

I'm not sure of the Stepping on my Q6600. I'll have to plug it in and have a look. In fact my sample is a bit of an oddity as it is identified as a Xeon 3220. Same spec as a Q6600 but a different ID.

As for the cache of Q9300 it's poor wording on my part as the 6MB of L2 is divided between the two dual core packages so 3MB per dual core.

As for my conclusion, the Q9300 doesn't manage the same clock speed as the Q6600 but it has the same level of performance and uses much, much less power in the process.


July 27, 2008, 11:58 am

Its a pitty you didnt put up some Temperature data of the two chips, I have a Q6600(G0) in my Silverstone SG03 and it can run hot in an SFF Case, I would have liked to seen how the 9300 compares, at a guess due to its less power I would say it would run a lot cooler?


July 28, 2008, 2:51 am

The Q9300 seems like a good CPU but it doesn't seem very well priced at the moment. At 𧵧 it's a lot more then the Q6600 for it's fairly small advantages and the Q9450 with double the cache, a higher clockspeed and a better multiplier isn't that much more at 𧶀.

Leo Waldock

July 29, 2008, 2:06 pm

My Q6600/X3220 is a B3 revision

Jason 4

November 8, 2008, 12:30 am

ChaosDefinesOrder - If you pay closer attention, the Q6600 just BARELY beats out the Q9300 in (not all) those areas and it is clocked considerably higher than the Q9300 (3Ghz vs 3.4Ghz).

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