The Core 2 Extreme QX9770
At the end of our Core 2 Extreme QX9650 Performance Preview article, we acknowledged the superior performance of Intel’s latest Core 2 Extreme processor, but speculated that Intel could have an even faster part in the works. The Core 2 Extreme QX9770 is that part.
The QX9770 chip is based on Intel’s 45-nm Yorkfield core, just like the QX9650, only it’s an even faster processor. The CPU sports a 1.6GHz FSB and runs at 3.2GHz. With its 12MB L2 cache and quad-processing cores, this CPU makes the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 – already the world’s fastest desktop processor – look like child’s play! In addition, unlike Phenom, Intel actually sampled processors to the media; in fact we’ve had our processor for about two weeks now. The CPU runs fine with X38 motherboards that support 1600MHz FSB speeds like the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe and Gigabyte X38-DQ6. Intel will also be releasing their X48 chipset with the QX9770. The X48 chipset will officially support 1600MHz FSB speeds, while X38 will officially be limited to 1333MHz.
While we’ve got clearance from Intel to publish Core 2 Extreme QX9770 benchmarks today, Intel won’t officially release the processor until Q1’08. We’ve been told that the processor will be priced higher than traditional Extreme CPUs, so expect a price tag somewhere well north of $1,000, while the Extreme’s will continue to sell for $999. Due to its higher clock speed, the QX9770 sports a slightly higher TDP than the QX9650, 136W versus 130W.
The X48 chipset
Just as 790FX is launching with Phenom, the Intel X48 chipset is supposed to launch with the QX9770 in Q1’08. Again, X48’s most notable new feature over X38 is support for 1600MHz FSB operation. Officially according to Intel the X38 chipset is capped at 1333MHz FSB speeds, although obviously ASUS, Gigabyte, and others have developed X38 motherboards that are capable of hitting, and more importantly, fully supporting FSB speeds of up to 1600MHz without voiding the motherboard’s warranty (of course, if you go beyond 1600MHz, that’s considered overclocking).
The X48 chipset also supports DDR3 speeds up to 1600MHz. If you recall, the X38 chipset is technically limited to DDR3 speeds up to 1333MHz.
Intel is positioning the X48 chipset as a replacement for X38 in the high-end enthusiast segment. Intel expects the QX9770/1600MHz FSB/1600MHz DDR3 platform to outperform QX9650/1333MHz FSB/DDR3-1333 by around 3-7% on average, and of course the new X48 platform will continue to support Intel’s Extreme Memory Profiles, as well as the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility.
To see how the new QX9770 CPU performs, we’ve included benchmarks of this CPU in this article, and we’ll be taking a more extensive look at its performance at stock speeds as well as overclocked in a dedicated article shortly.