Now that you understand the software ecosystem a little better, letís discuss the 4-core hardware ecosystem.
As we stated on the first page, most of the Core 2 motherboards that were released earlier this year were designed with quad-core CPUs like the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 in mind, all youíll need is a BIOS upgrade and youíre good to go. In fact, we used ASUS P5W DH Deluxe for our Core 2 Extreme QX6700 testing.
Our quad-core system
Another shot of the QX6700 system
That doesnít mean that all Core 2-compliant motherboards will support Core 2 Extreme QX6700 however. Intelís own D975XBX motherboard for instance, doesnít support the QX6700. Intel has redesigned the board once again to support quad-core CPUs like the QX6700, the newest board has been dubbed the ďD975XBX2Ē. This marks the second time that the D975XBX platform has had to be redesigned to accommodate a new Intel processor. Functionally, the XBX2 is similar to its predecessors, with the obvious inclusion of quad-core support. The motherboard continues to support three PCI Express graphics slots and supports ATIís CrossFire technology, along with four SATA ports and Intel High Definition 7.1 audio.
Another popular Core 2-compliant motherboard that doesnít support Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is ASUSí nForce4 SLI X16-based motherboard, the P5N32-SLI SE Deluxe.
We didnít have time to ping all the motherboard manufacturers, but the best advice we can give is to check the website of your motherboard manufacturer. Almost all of the P965 and G965 motherboards support Intelís quad-core CPUs, and most of the 2nd generation 975X motherboards do too, weíve also been told that NVIDIAís nForce 5 and upcoming nForce 6-series chipsets will support quad-core computing, so the list of motherboards supported is rather extensive. For most of you all youíll need is a simple BIOS update for Intel quad-core.
While Intel officially lists a TDP of 130W for Core 2 Extreme QX6700, nearly twice that of Core 2 Extreme X6800, we donít think cooling the CPU will be an issue to most of you with a good aftermarket cooler. We used a Zalman CNPS7700-Cu to cool our QX6700, and didnít run into any thermal issues. Those of you with high-end Scythe coolers in particular definitely have nothing to worry about. The CPU cooler Intel sent over with the QX6700 is largely similar to Intelís previous reference heatsink/fan cooling unit, although the fan on the new cooler is a little more powerful.
If you havenít noticed, Intelís Core 2 CPUs are marvelous overclockers. Our CPU Overclocking Database is filled with Core 2 success stories. Many of you are OCíing your processors by over 50% with no problems!
With four cores onboard the QX6700, there was concern that the CPU would be tougher to overclock. All early indications suggest otherwise though, as we hit 3.33GHz with our Core 2 QX6700 at stock voltage! At higher clock speeds Windows would crash shortly after loading the desktop.
Overclocked to 3.3GHz!
When we have a little bit more time weíll play around with overclocking a little more, we wouldnít be surprised if we broke 3.5GHz once we add more voltage. This was all accomplished with the Zalman CNPS7700-Cu and Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste by the way, nothing exotic like water cooling.