Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650
- 45-nanometre transistors, overclockable, new SSE4 instruction set
- Current motherboard's may need a BIOS upgrade before this CPU will work
As usual there's a hefty price on this right now, but the new transistor technology and larger cache seem to have given this CPU a nice boost over its predecessor. If you want the extra speed and would also like to do some overclocking it's worth considering.
Intel's next generation CPU, codenamed Penryn, has finally hit the PC World test labs, and there are a few new things to get excited about. Probably the most touted feature of this new Core 2 CPU is that it has been built using Intel's new 45-nanometre (nm) transistor technology. However, it's not all about the size. It's also about what they're made of.
We took a look at Intel's QX9650 Core 2 Quad CPU. Like the QX6850 we tested recently, the new QX9650 has a 1333MHz front side bus (FSB) and a core speed of 3GHz, but we can expect Penryn CPUs to launch up to 1600MHz FSB speeds with even faster cores. The QX9650 also uses a 12MB L2 cache (2x 6MB caches) as opposed to the maximum 8MB L2 cache (2x 4MB caches) on Conroe processors.
As we've already mentioned, the most touted feature of this CPU is its 45nm transistor technology. Transistors are tiny gates that exist in either an on or off state and are the physical representation of a computer's 1's and 0's. The previous generation of CPUs codenamed Conroe, were built using a 65nm manufacturing process, but Intel's new 45nm transistors allow approximately twice the density of transistors on a single chip.
According to Intel you could fit approximately 2000 45nm transistors across the width of a human hair and they can switch on and off approximately 300 billion times per second. However, as transistor technology gets ever smaller, the instance of power leakage becomes more prevalent. Maintaining control of the on and off states gets increasingly difficult until it's less of a design flaw, and more of a flaw in the materials being used.
The transition from 65nm to 45nm has been made possible by the new hafnium-based High-K gate dielectric and a new metal gate electrode, rather than a polysilicon gate that's been in place since the late 1960s. The new materials allow, in a sense, for the on state to be more on, and the off state to be more off. What this all boils down to is two main points; a performance increase from the transistor, and reduced power leakage, a problem that plagues device reliability and the power-per-watt efficiency.
The next step forward that Penryn offers is a move to the new Intel SSE4 instruction set. SSE4 will bring 54 new instructions that act like a language between the capabilities of the new CPU and software that has been written to take advantage of it. Most of the benefits fall under media encoding, 3D applications (such as games and model rendering) and data mining. Put simply, SSE4 reduces the number of steps that need to be taken to complete an operation, theoretically increasing performance. At this stage there is only one application available with SSE4 optimisations, and that's DivX 6.6.1.
We ran a range of tests from video and audio encoding to gaming and rendering tests, but the most telling test was our own WorldBench 6 benchmark, which runs the computer through a series of common applications and workload environments to gauge its ability. As you can see from the benchmark results, less taxing applications like Firefox and Microsoft Office gained little, while 3DS Max DirectX and rendering tests benefited and the Windows Media Encoder 9 results also showed improvement. We also saw notable gains in the WinZip compression test, in our Cdex MP3 compression test and in the Half-Life 2 gaming test. None of these applications use SSE4, but are clearly improving from the new CPU (see graph for details). The total score of 130 in WorldBench 6 puts it on par with the QX6850 when it is overclocked to 3.6GHz, and when overclocked the Penryn QX9650 reached a massive 140.
Join the newsletter!
Now that the home entertainment market has moved towards streaming video services and Blu-ray content, there has never been a better time to convert DVD collections to digital.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Nova 3e: P20 in a pinch
- 2 Sonos Beam review: A more-affordable, smarter soundbar option
- 3 ASUS Zenbook Pro 15: A futuristic, exciting, imperfect, flagship notebook
- 4 Oppo R15 Pro review: A compelling mid-tier option with lots of value and few compromises
- 5 LG SK85 Super UHD TV + SK9Y soundbar review: A richly-realised, albeit conventional, alternative to OLED
Latest News Articles
- MSI unveils first custom NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPU Series
- ASUS announces support for 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen Threadripper Processors
- Pre-orders open for 2nd-Gen AMD Ryzen Threadripper
- Third party audit suggests AMD drivers are the most stable
- HP revamp Omen range with game streaming and hybrid keyboard
PCW Evaluation Team
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
- Canon EOS 1500D: Full, in-depth review
- Oppo R15 Pro review: A compelling mid-tier option with lots of value and few compromises
- Dell G5 review: Full, in-depth review
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?