Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Processor - HotHardware

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Processor

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Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q9300 has some rather large shoes to fill. This newly shipping, relatively low-cost (~$270) quad-core processor from Intel is a replacement for their long-standing price to performance champ, the Core 2 Quad Q6600. The Q6600 was the first quad-core in Intel’s arsenal which was actually affordable, and even today, it remains one of the best values on the market. Not only is the Core 2 Quad Q6600 inexpensive for a quad-core at around $230, but it is extremely overclockable and provides a significant amount of computing power for the dollar. Core 2 Quad Q6600’s are still in high-demand – a trend which is likely to continue until Intel physically removes from them from the market.

Like we said, rather large shoes to fill. Luckily, the Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor has some impressive new features under the hood along with a higher clock speed, all at a similar price point as the Q6600. As the Core 2 Quad Q9300 utilizes Intel’s new 45nm manufacturing technology (as opposed to 65nm of the Q6600), potential buyers will be expecting the Q9300 to perform better and produce less heat compared to its predecessor – certainly a difficult task but one which we believe Intel can meet. We’ve already seen what Intel’s 45nm manufacturing technology is capable of with its dual-core “Wolfdale” architecture, and if Intel can bring the same benefits to the quad-core market as it did for dual-cores with “Wolfdale”, Intel will be in good shape.

The Q9300 is coming to market at an interesting time. Intel has struggled somewhat to get their mainstream 45nm quad-core components on to market, and the Core 2 Quad Q9300 represents Intel’s first real attempt at holding on to the low-cost quad-core market against a newly resilient AMD. With AMD’s new lineup of quad-core Phenom X4 B3 processors bringing similar features at a lower price point than the Q9300, Intel may have to work a little harder in order to make the Q9300 a success. Let's see if they're up for the challenge.

Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9300 Engineering Sample

  • 2.5 GHz Clock Speed, Quad-Core

  • "Yorkfield" Core Architecture

  • 45nm Manufacturing Technology

  • 256 kB L1 Cache (Data/Instruction)

  • 6 MB Shared L2 Cache (Full Speed)

  • 1333 MHz Front Side Bus Speed
  • Socket-775 Form Factor Design

  • 1.225V Default Core Voltage

  • Supports 32/64-bit Processing (EM64T)

  • Supports SSE / SSE2 / SSE3 / SSE4.1

  • Supports Intel Speedstep / C1E

  • Supports Execute Disable (xD) Bit

Core 2 Quad Q9300 - Top

Core 2 Quad Q9300 - Bottom

This Core 2 Quad processor, as we mentioned before, is based on Intel’s 45nm “Yorkfield” architecture, which replaces their 65nm Kentsfield designs that dominated Intel’s product lineup throughout 2007 and most of early 2008. The “Yorkfield” architecture is, more or less, two 45nm “Wolfdale” cores connected together into a single chip design. The Core 2 Quad Q9300 is not a native quad-core like AMD’s Phenom processor, but rather is two dual-cores connected under a single heat spreader - a multi-chip module. As our tests have shown in the past, this does not affect performance in any real way, and shouldn’t be a consideration when thinking of buying one of these chips. However, it is just an interesting aspect to note, from a technology perspective.

The Q9300 is somewhat of an anomaly as it’s the only member of the Core 2 Quad 45nm family which has 6 MB of L2 cache (2 x 3 MB cache per dual-core die). All other members of the Core 2 Quad family have a double-sized 12 MB of cache, which will give an estimated 5-10% performance boost at the same clock speed compared to the 6 MB variants. Interestingly enough, with 6 MB of L2 cache, the Q9300 actually has less cache compared to its predecessor (the Q6600), which had 8 MB of L2 cache (2 x 4 MB). However, cache latencies have improved with the new architecture, so performance will not suffer greatly due to this design decision. We do find it strange that Intel is introducing only one model based with 6 MB of cache, although it's certainly possible that Intel will be introducing newer models to fit alongside this chip in the future.

While the Q9300 takes a hit on cache, its architecture is improved just about everywhere else. The Q9300 runs at a clock speed of 2.5 GHz with a front side bus speed of 1333 MHz (compare to the Q6600 at 2.4 GHz @ 1066 MHz FSB). In addition, the Q9300 supports Intel’s new SSE 4.1 instruction set, which unlike any other SSE release we’ve seen in the past, can offer huge performance increases with properly coded applications. The biggest benefactor of this new instruction set have been video encoding applications, which can see massive (30%+) performance gains with SSE 4.1 supported processors.

Even with all these new features under the hood, the Core 2 Quad Q9300 runs on a standard Socket-775 interface and is compatible with the vast majority of Socket-775 motherboards on the market today. Most motherboards require a BIOS update in order to see the proper CPUID’s of these new processors, but if your motherboard supports 45nm, 1333 MHz FSB processors, you’ll likely be able to run one of these new chips. The Q9300 has a TDP (thermal design power) rating of 95W, which means you likely won’t have to replace your existing cooler, either. However, if you buy a retail boxed processor, you’ll get one of Intel’s (decent) retail cooling systems. For our tests, we’ll be using something a little bigger – after all, we want to see what this chip is capable of without cooling being a limitation.

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It looks to be a good value overclocked, but the Q6600 is so much cheaper I still have to recommend it for people looking for a good entrance into Intel Quad Core. 

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Looks good, but yeah I would opt for the Q450.. ;)

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The now lower price of the Q6700 makes it a very viable option for the enthusiast/gamer with it's 10 multi... personally I'd go with that if I were in the market for a quad right this minute.

Q6700 G0 stepping FTW!!!

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The statement that this one is worthy upgrade from Q6600 making this review to look like commercial promotion.

Sorry guys but this chip can't give you 3.4-3.6 like the Q6600.

The strange 7.5 multiplier is kind of limitation for overcloking. 

The only good thing is ~30 watt power saving that will save me ~30$ a year.

Actually this Q9300 is about the same price as Q6700 which has higher stock clock. It is interesting why it was not in test. Direct performance for $ compare would be more informative about advantages of the newbie.

 If you already have quad, stay with it and wait for real improvements with next very soon coming architecture with integrated memory controller and whatever new socket.

It can be recomended for people that must buy new computrer for some reason, but with almost NO REAL IMPROVEMENTS over older slower  Q6600, you just can't be serious  recommending it as upgrade.

 Technical note:

 On the third page (Test System Details) , it is stated that  you used  eVGA Nvidia nForce 680i LT SLI Motherboard (For Intel Testing).

Is there any changes and 680i started to support 45nm quads ? 

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Hi there :

As for an upgrade vs. the Q6600, we wouldn't really recommend people taking this route.   However, if one was buying a new system and the Q9300 vs. Q6600 was up in the air, the Q9300 is likely a better shot in this time.  Better raw performance, lower power consumption, SSE4 instrucuctions.  Both chips are highly overclockable - the Q6600 has some advantages, but the Q9300 can certainly overclock quite a bit too.

The eVGA nForce 680i LT motherboard does indeed support 45nm dual and quad-core processors with the latest BIOS.  We used the same platform for this article as we did for the 45nm "Wolfdale" E8500 article, which works great. 

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“Power management features (EIST, C1E, Speedstep, PowerNow) were disabled across the board in order to keep consistency.” By consistent you mean that that the power figures are consistently unrepresentative of what real world shipping PCs will achieve! I’d much rather see figures with all the power saving features enabled and if you want to add a second graph with them turned off then fine. One advantage of that is that you see more clearly how much more your system consumes at idle when you over-clock by increasing VCore in the BIOS which leaves your VCore permanently set at the higher value. The difference can be dramatic which is why I only over-clock using the stock VCore which means EIST is still fully functioning and idle power draw is much lower. It typically limits me to 3GHz with an Intel Quad but it seems a good compromise to me.

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agharta - Thanks for the comments - I'll look into adding power consumption numbers w/ power conservation modes enabled for future articles.


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If I were to choose between a Q6600 and a Q9450 or a Q9550 I would choose for sure a Q9450 or 550.

If I were to choose between a Q6600 and a Q9300 I would surely choose the Q6600 because of its low price point and very little difference in performance.Q9300 features a lower quantity of cache than it's 45nm colleagues.

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There are a lot of reports that  680i  not supporting  45nm  qauds.

But luckily (almost no extra cost) i laid my hands on Q9300 yesterday. My mobo is Asus P5N32-E SLI (stripped down Striker. Same PCB, same components, only few things missing like LCD, Buttons and little bit different chipset cooling).

In the beginning, i just replaced Q6600 and pressed the power button. I got an error in POST, that the CPU is unrecognized and suggestion that i should update my 1302 BIOS. Quick check of BIOS and found funny things. The CPU multiplier was integers only. Cache size was reported as 1x2K.  but everything else seemed to be ok. I booted to OS (Gentoo Linux 64 bit) and did some tests (mostly compilations and compression) it was working fine. The strange thing was the temperature. It was reported in BIOS as 31C and so in OS, but the cores temp was close to 60C. I tried Vista 64 bit and it was fine. I just wanted to update BIOS from GUI but it failed, so i copied the 1404 BIOS to flash drive and used BIOS utility to update it form the BIOS. After update, system just refused to boot. No beeps, no sign of life only HDD fans spinning. I tried to remove memory, no change. So (being very upset) i placed back Q6600 and it did the boot. I put back the Q9300 and it worked. CPU was correctly identified by BIOS, the CPU multiplier has now only 3 options: 6, 7 and 7.5. Cache reported correctly. I experienced some weird issues with BIOS settings, but you cant expect everything to work with beta version. But after the update, CPU temperature reported in BIOS as 60C !!! I think it's incorrect because the cooler remained pretty cool near the base. I use scythe ninja for long time and if the processor getting hot, you can verify it by heatpipes temperature near the base. So I started to play a little with clock. Results with default voltages are: FSB - 1650MHz, CPU - 3.09Ghz (2.5 stock), Mem - 825MHz (800 stock) @ 4-4-3-15 1T (linked sync mode). 

That was the first day testing, i'm doing migration from 250GB mirror of sensitive data to 750GB mirror. I left it for the night, and it was completed by the morning with very impressive 52MB/sec. 

The questions are:

1. What should I do  with temperatures ? can BIOS report it incorrectly ?

2. What else should I check in order to verify that the processor is compatible with my mobo ?

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with the temp. i would get a maybe Infrared Thermometers to get the temps for yourselfs cause i heard that a couple of nvidia mobo were having trouble with geting temps, from the new 45nm duals and quads

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