Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200S and Q9550S 65W CPUs

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Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Overall the new 65W Core 2 Quads performed about the same as their older, higher TDP 95W brethren. Our benchmarks have shown that the Core 2 Quad line-up remains competitive with newer processor models like the similarly priced Phenom II line-up, although it does seem to be at a performance disadvantage when compared to the new Core i7 architecture. The Core 2 Quad Q9550S competes well with the Phenom II X4 940 through most of our tests. The Q9550S also managed to keep pace with the cheapest Core i7, the i7-920, although it would be no match for the higher-end models. The Q8200S, the low power version of Intel's current cheapest quad-core chip, also performed well but unlike the Q9550S, it couldn't quite keep up with the most current higher-clocked processor models. 

Intel's new series of 65W TDP Core 2 Quad processors is the latest and likely one of the last major additions to the Core 2 portfolio. While the new chips don't offer any new additions or features to the existing Core 2 Quad 45nm Yorkfield design, they finally provide a much lower heat generating quad-core solution from Intel. While AMD has had low TDP quad-cores for quite some time, they have achieved this through significant downclocking. The new 65W Core 2 Quads, on the other hand, perform no different than standard 95W models.

As we saw in our thermal test, the 65W quads have similar thermal characteristics as higher-end dual-cores. The Q8200S actually had lower temps in our test than a dual-core E8400. This means you can now shove a beefy quad-core into many systems that could previously only accommodate a dual-core.  Unfortunately the low power envelopes of the S-series chip doesn't come without a cost. While the Q9550S is identical to the standard Q9550 in every way except TDP, it currently retails for an extra $120. That is quite a large price premium for a 30W TDP savings and the other models are similar. It seems that if you want a low power quad from Intel, you'll need to hand over an extra ~$100 for the privilege.

Overall, it seems like the new 65W Core 2 Quads will have somewhat limited, niche' appeal. If you are looking to build a typical workstation or gaming rig, you should be able to make do with a standard 95W quad core and save yourself a bundle. Overclockers might be attracted to the lower TDP but they may be disappointed to discover, as we did, that the new chips don't seem to fare much better than standard models. Likely the only user segments these chips will really appeal to is the HTPC/SFF and ultra-quiet PC crowds, who often need to deal with cramped chassis and unusual thermal restrictions. The biggest asset of the new S-series quads are their significantly lower thermal envelopes which makes them much easier to cool. Anyone planning to build a system with tight thermal restrictions should check out the new 65W Core 2 Quads, but everyone else will most likely be better off with a standard 95W model instead, in order to save a few dollars.  Perhaps pricing will soften a bit in the future for these new Intel "S" series low power quad core chips, in which case their price/value ratio will line up better with their performance-per-watt ratio.

 

  • Core 2 Quad with Core 2 Duo thermal characteristics
  • Good performance
  • Lower power consumption
  • Much more expensive than legacy 95W Core 2 Quads
  • Somewhat limited Availability


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