The new quad-core Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor priced at $266 should be at least as demanded as its predecessor, Core 2 Quad Q6600. Being Intel’s cheapest quad-core processor built using the latest production process, this newcomer has a number of indisputable advantages: high clock speed, increase bus frequency, SSE4.1 instruction support and a few other micro-architectural improvements. Even despite the reduced to 6MB L2 cache, all these features ensure a pretty noticeable performance improvement. According to our tests, the average performance advantage of Core 2 Quad Q9300 over Core 2 Quad Q6600 is about 7%. And what is especially pleasing, you will get this performance gain absolutely for free: Core 2 Quad Q9300 will be priced officially exactly as Core 2 Quad Q6600.
In addition I would like to say that the use of more advanced manufacturing technology helped reduce power consumption and heat dissipation of the new processor. Our practical experiments revealed that it consumes about 30W less when running in heavy burn mode.
However, besides indisputable advantages, this new processor has one significant drawback, which may make the overclocker future of this solution quite doubtful. Although Yorkfield processors can overclock up to 4GHz (without any extreme cooling solutions involved), Core 2 Quad Q9300 cannot reach that frequency. Since the new quad-core generation started supporting 1333MHz bus, their multipliers got considerably lower. For example, Core 2 Quad Q9300 we have discussed today works with 7.5x multiplier, which doesn’t allow this processor to get past 3.4-3.5GHz because contemporary mainboards have pretty limited functionality when it comes to increasing the FSB frequency past 460-470MHz by quad-core CPUs. And this is actually even lower than the maximum frequency quad core processors from the Kentsfield family, including Core 2 Quad Q6600, can reach.
As a result, Core 2 Quad Q6600 may remain a better choice for overclocker systems, because it may run faster than Core 2 Quad Q9300 in some cases. Moreover, overclocking of previous-generation quad-core processors is a simpler procedure that doesn’t depend that much on the mainboard functionality.
So, it turns out pretty hard to make the final conclusion about the youngest quad-core Yorkfield processor. The new Core 2 Quad Q9300 is definitely a great product, but only until you get to overclocking. From the overclocking prospective we have to be more careful with our verdict and would call it an interesting but maybe not the most optimal choice.
Also, do not forget that quad-core processors can still hardly be considered an indisputably best choice. The applications optimized for multi-core micro-architecture are not that numerous yet. Therefore, dual-core processors with higher clock frequencies seem to be a more optimal solution. Our tests showed that new Core 2 Duo E8000 processors can outperform Core 2 Quad Q9300 in a number of tasks in both: nominal and overclocked modes.