In terms of overall performance, we were very impressed with the Core 2 Extreme QX9770, which is not surprising given that it raises the core 200 MHz and the system bus speed by 266 MHz, outpacing even the blazing-fast Core 2 Extreme QX9650. Performance in desktop applications is ultra fast, response times are instantaneous, multi-tasking is like butter, and it is the fastest desktop multi-tasker that money can buy. Gaming is a breeze, and at 3.2 GHz, there is absolutely no possibility of being owned by a dual-core model.
The power and thermal requirements are still very good for a 3.2 GHz quad core, but not at the level of the 3.0 GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9650. The 200 MHz core speed upgrade and the shift to FSB1600 have ramped up the TDP as well, and our power consumption figures confirm this. While the thermals and fan speed results of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 were still better than a 65nm Intel quad core, there were some difference compared to the Core 2 Extreme QX9650.
On our particular configuration using an air-cooled, all-copper cooling solution, the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 rarely used the fan at idle, while spinning up to low to mid-range under load. The Core 2 Extreme QX9770 raised thermals up a level, spinning at low during idle, and ramping this up to medium-speed under load. Naturally, these results would change under a different format, such as fanless or water-cooling solutions.
Assigning a value rating to the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 will be extremely difficult, as Intel has not yet released pricing. The QX9770 will be officially released in the first quarter of '08, and according to Intel, it will have a higher price than current Extreme models. Given that the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 starts at over $1K, it gives a rough idea of what we're going to see early next year, but all plans are subject to change. As with the initial Yorkfield release, the performance of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 is exceptional, but mainstream buyers should probably wait for the 45nm core to filter down.
* Please note that these prices were taken at the time of review and are not meant to reflect long-term trends.
The release of the initial Yorkfield quad core was a revelation, as the 45nm core allowed high clock speeds with a noticeable reduction in both power consumption and processor heat. The Core 2 Extreme QX9770 continues this transition to a 45nm quad core design, but with slightly higher power and thermal requirements. Performance is top notch, covering the gamut of tests from media creation to desktop applications to games, and the Core 2 just extends its performance lead. Intel seems to be laying it on thick, intending to bury the AMD Phenom before its clock speeds can be ramped up.