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Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 – The 45nm Era Begins
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by Rob Williams on October 29, 2007 in Intel Processors

Intel will be launching their first 45nm desktop processor in a few weeks, but we have an in-depth look for you here today. Penryn brings improved efficiency, new high-k metal gate transistors, additional cache and something that will make multimedia buffs rejoice: SSE4. Welcome to the 45nm era!

Testing Methodology


Regardless of the OS we are running or product being reviewed, there are a few conditions that need to be met to assure accurate, repeatable results.

  • Desktop and scrap files are cleaned up, including emptying of recycle bin/trash.
  • No virus scanner or firewall is installed in our stand-alone installations.
  • Internet is completely disabled prior to any testing.
  • Computer has proper airflow and room temperature is 80°F or less.
  • Primary hard-drive is defragged using Diskeeper 10.

Here is the machine used for testing, followed by our operating systems configurations.

Operating Systems

For our CPU reviews, we use two different versions of Windows and one version of Linux. Even though Vista has been out for almost a year, we focus on XP because it has a much wider user base, and is preferred for the best performance and compatibility. Vista is used only for our SYSmark 2007 Preview and PCMark Vantage suites.

    Windows XP Professional SP2

  • Screensaver and all power-related options are disabled.
  • All chipset/motherboard drivers are installed, in addition to GPU.
  • Windows Update is called in if a specific update is needed.
  • Internet is disabled.
    Windows Vista Ultimate

  • Screensaver and all power-related options are disabled.
  • Welcome Center is disabled.
  • UAC is disabled.
  • Critical Windows Updates are downloaded, including a fix for the GPU.
  • Security Center is altered to never nag about the settings.
  • Internet is disabled, and Aero theme is enabled.
    SabayonLinux Professional 1.1 x86

  • Standard KDE desktop is used.
  • Internet is disabled.

Game Benchmarking

By now, we are well aware that Intel’s 45nm processors are set to make huge improvements in multi-media work, but what can it do for our games? Since IDF, Intel has been touting both Half-Life 2 and FEAR as two games that see double-digit increases. Today, we will see if these claims are true, while throwing seven other games into the pile to see if the increases are commonplace.

Our selection of games includes some older titles as well as current hot sellers so that we can throw our Yorkfield through a variety of different genres and game engines to see where improvements will arise. Eight of our nine games are played through manually, with FRAPS 2.9.2 acting as the FPS capture tool. Our lone automated benchmark is Lost Planet. Since this is a CPU review, we wanted to choose at least one automated benchmark that was more CPU bound than GPU bound. To our benefit, Lost Planet has a built-in benchmarking option.

All manual playthroughs last between 4 – 6 minutes. Because they are played manually, the average FPS will vary between tests due to changing circumstances in the games. Each setting is played through twice, and the result is the average. We tested each game at both 1280×1024 and 2560×1600 for the sake of seeing if the benefits were greater with either.

Below, you can view all of the games we will be using, as well as the settings used.

Specification
1280×1024
2560×1600
BioShock Vertical Sync Off
All other options On
Vertical Sync Off
All other options On
Call of Juarez High Quality setting
0x Anti-Aliasing
High Quality setting
4x Anti-Aliasing
Call of Duty 2 Anisotropic Filtering
0x Anti-Aliasing
High Dynamic Lights
Soften Smoke Edges: Everything
Corpses: Medium
Anisotropic Filtering
4x Anti-Aliasing
High Dynamic Lights
Soften Smoke Edges: Everything
Corpses: Insane
FEAR All settings default All settings default
Half-Life 2: Episode Two 0x Anti-Aliasing
8x Anisotropic Filtering
All other options High
8x MS Anti-Aliasing
8x Anisotropic Filtering
All other options High
Lost Planet All settings default
0x Anti-Aliasing
All settings default
4x Anti-Aliasing
NFS: Carbon High Detail Maximum Detail
STALKER Full dynamic lighting
Maximum quality

Full dynamic lighting
Maximum quality
Unreal Tournament 3 (Demo) All settings maxed All settings maxed

All other non-game benchmarks will be explained along the way.


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