Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Throughout our entire benchmark suite, the new Yorkfield-based Core 2 Extreme QX9650 outperformed a similarly clocked Kenstfield-based Core 2 Extreme QX6850, while at the same time using much less power. In some of the synthetic and less taxing real-world application benchmarks, the QX9650 performed on par with or slightly better than the QX6850. In a few of the more taxing audio encoding and 3D or video encoding benchmarks, like LAME MT and Cinebench, the new QX9650 showed significant clock-for-clock performance gains, sometimes larger than 10%.
We can't help but think the new Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is but a glimpse of what Intel has in store for us in the future. Intel has been talking about their 45nm process technology for what seems like an eternity. When a major company like Intel is as open and talkative about a new technology or product years before its release, as Intel has been, it usually means one of two things; either the technology is not all it's cracked up to be and the PR machine is running full force to play up its strengths, or the technology is the real deal and the company wants everyone to know it. After experimenting with the QX9650 and seeing multiple products built using Intel's 45nm process technology first hand over the past few months, we can't help but think it is the real deal.
The Yorkfield-based Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is a success in every sense of the word. The processor is faster, has new features, uses much less power, is less expensive to produce, and has more overclocking headroom than its predecessor. What more is there to say? Sure, the new features like SSE4 won't be fully exploited until applications are programmed to use them, but that is already happening and we suspect adoption will be relatively quick considering the available performance increases. And the fact that chips built using Intel's 45nm process will be cheaper to produce doesn't just mean more profits for Intel. It means the company can keep the price pressure on AMD while maintaining their bottom line, so expect aggressive pricing with future mainstream and mid-level dual and quad-core 45nm processors.
Intel hasn't disclosed pricing information just yet, but you can bet that the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 will be priced in-line with previous Extreme Edition processors, which is to say this chip is going to be expensive - think in the $1200 range. Intel will be releasing final pricing information in mid-November when the processor ships alongside a few new Xeons. Is that a heck of a lot of money to pay for a desktop processor? Yes, it is. But if money is no object and you want the fastest, most capable desktop processor on the planet currently, the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is it.