Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Reviewccokeman -
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The joy of overclocking a CPU comes from the knowledge that you have bought a lower end product and have gotten the performance of a higher priced, higher end product for a much lower price. But by doing so you usually put more voltage into the CPU than you would have when buying the higher end model, thus shortening the lifespan some say. But if you are on the three to six month enthusiast upgrade plan, longevity is not a big concern. So why not buy the lower model and clock it on up? That's just what I will be doing with the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300. As the littlest of the quad core Yorkfields, it has less L2 cache (6MB versus 12MB) a lower clock multiplier (7.5 versus 8 and up) and the lowest clock speed at 2.5 GHz. What it does share with its bigger brothers, the Q9450, the Q9550 and the QX9650, is the 1333MHz FSB speed and quad core architecture. Will the lower amount of L2 cache hinder performance? Will the lower clock speed be competitive with the 65nm Q6600? Will the lowest multiplier of the group hinder its overclocking potential? All these questions need answers, so let's get started!
The retail packaging for the Q9300 is unchanged from that of the Q9450 and slightly different from the Q6600. The font of the package highlights the fact that the Q9300 is indeed a 45nm product. The rear panel has a brief snippet about the warranty and motherboard compatibility.
The top panel shows the Q9300 through a plastic window. For those enthusiasts who shop based on the stepping and specific codes on the PCB, then this is ideal for you. For the rest, you can see what you are getting. The side panel includes much of the information that can be gotten from the chip view. The production code, batch/ FPO number, and date packed are items you can check on this panel.
By pulling the plastic enclosure out, you can get a view of the stock heatsink and the detailed product information. The CPU heatsink sent out with the Q9300 is noticeably thinner than that which came with the 65nm quad core CPUs. With the lower voltage required to run this CPU, Intel probably figured that the additional heatsink material would not be needed.
As the lowest speed rated 45nm Quad core Yorkfield processor, the Q9300 has some big shoes to fill. It features a 1333MHz bus speed running with a 7.5 clock multiplier to give a final clock speed of 2.5GHz, just slightly higher than the 65nm Q6600 and 166MHz slower than the Q9450. What it does not share with the rest of the family is the 3MB of L2 cache per core of the Q9450 up to the QX9770. It only has 1.5MB of L2 cache per core for a total of 6MB versus 12MB or even the 8MB on the Q6600.
So just how well will this littlest of the of the quad core Yorkfields perform? How will it overclock? Well, let's find out!