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Review: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770: is there a need?

by Tarinder Sandhu on 28 November 2007, 06:57

Tags: Core 2 Extreme QX9770, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Here's the state of play facing your desktop processor department. Your medium-term memory is hazy, having conveniently forgotten the year-on-year beating that your Pentium 4 NetBurst architecture took at the hands of AMD's K8 slew of processors. Short-term memory doesn't suffer from the same semblance of amnesia, though, and you're particularly fond of the day that NetBurst's meek whimper was replaced by the gorilla chest-beating fury unleashed with the Core microarchitecture, some 18 months ago.

Moving on in time and you introduced a quad-core architecture by the simplest means possible: glueing two dual-core processors together. Now, that 'non-native' quad-core has been further augmented by the double whammy of a reduction in manufacturing process - always a good thing - and architectural bolt-ons that form the basis of the cool-running Penryn core.

Still, you knew that AMD had its own quad-core processor waiting in the wings, promising K8 on steroids. Indeed, so apparently worried is your department that you feel the need to announce another Penryn-based processor with speed and price-outrage in equal measure.

Our initial look at the AMD Phenom 9600 highlighted that it wasn't fast enough to compete against a 65nm Kentsfield-based Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600, which was a shame, really. What's more, its pricing wasn't particularly competitive, so it was a lose-lose situation for AMD.

There has been absolutely no need to announce the fastest-ever desktop x86 processor, dear Intel desktop department, unless your aim has been one of driving the performance delta between you and AMD further into Austin's chest.

Without further ado, let's welcome the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (notice the numbering, folks?). 3.2GHz of Penryn power allied to a 1600MHz FSB. Will it be fast? Yes, absolutely; that goes without saying. Will it be expensive? Let's put it this way, you can buy a decent PC for less.

$1,199 (~Ā£750) will be the asking price. Let's find out if it can possibly be worth it...