Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Review

ccokeman - 2008-01-03 11:39:51 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: July 21, 2008
Price: $269.99

Introduction:

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!

Closer Look:

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!

Specifications:

 

 sSpec Number:
SLAWE
CPU Speed:
2.50 GHz
PCG:
05A
Bus Speed:
1333 MHz
Bus/Core Ratio:
7.5
L2 Cache Size:
6 MB
L2 Cache Speed:
2.5 GHz
Package Type:
LGA775
Manufacturing Technology:
45 nm
Core Stepping:
M1
CPUID String:
10677h
Thermal Design Power:
95W
Thermal Specification:
71.4°C
VID Voltage Range:
0.85V – 1.3625V

 

Features:

 

Testing:

The Intel Core 2 Quad 9300 processor will be put through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. Testing will include a direct comparison of several processors, including stock speed benchmarking. CPU clockspeed will be kept at the manufacturer specified clock speed and multiplier for the baseline testing. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables. The overclocking phase of the testing will be accomplished by using all of the available settings on the motherboard to gain the maximum performance from the latest Intel Core 2 Quad, the 9300.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Testing Setup AMD:

 

Comparison CPUs:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking each processor is different. With five identical processors you will get five different results. With this Q9300, 456x7.5 was the point at which it was prime95 stable. It would run benchmarks at up to 470x7.5 but was nowhere near stable. Above 456 FSB, the amount of voltage to keep the chip running was significantly more than what other 45nm processors I have tested have taken at similar FSB and raw clock speeds. At 1.55 volts there was no point trying to even push further. The good news is that the CPU would do almost 450 FSB on the stock 1.215 volts. I left the volts at 1.34v during my testing just as a safeguard but have since lowered this to 1.31v at 456 FSB. Pretty low volts for the clock speeds I was able to pull from the little brother of the QX9770. Having a motherboard that will allow high front side bus speeds with a quad core processor is essential with the Q9300 CPU. Raw clock speed is limited because of the low 7.5 clock multiplier. In order to reach 3.6GHz you would need to hit 480FSB, something not all quad core CPUs will do, some, but not all.

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02 Final
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.54
  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. Company of Heros-Opposing Fronts
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional

 

Testing:

The first part of our testing regimen will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

 

RAR:

 

 

 

In Apophysis, the Q9300 performed just barely better than the Q6600. This by virtue of the higher bus and clock speed. In the Winrar testing, the Q9300 was outperformed by the faster Intel CPUs, as well as the Phenom, in many of the tests.

 

Testing:

Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

 

The Q9300 is outperformed by the all of the other Intel chips in this comparison in the Specview testing as well as the Vantage testing. The Q9300 performs better than the Phenom in all but three tests.

Testing:

Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

The performance of the Q9300 in the Sandra testing shows it falling behind the 45nm 9450 and 9770 in all but the memory bandwidth bench. Here it performed better than all the comparison CPUs but the QX9770. The Phenom and Q6600 were outperformed in all of the categories but the drive testing, where the similar components delivered comparable results.

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

The results stratification falls in the rated speed range for each CPU. QX9770, Q9450, Q9300, Q6600, and Phenom 9600. The one exception is the Cinebench single CPU test where the 9300 fell to the Q6600.

 

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system. 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Q9300 performed quite well in the Crysis testing.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

The settings we will use are below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance is better than the Q6600 and Phenom in all four resolutions. Between its 45nm brethren there is some give and take, performance wise.

 

Testing:

Benchmark: BioShock

BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.

 

Settings:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a surprising result in the Bioshock testing. The Q9300 matched just about everything.

 

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.

 

The settings used are listed below:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As surprised as I was with the Bioshock testing, I am equally surprised at the COD4 results. The Q9300 just did not perform as well as was expected in COD4.

 

Testing:

World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.

 

The settings we will use are listed below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Q9300 results are bang on against the the comparison CPUs at all resolutions.

 

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

The settings we will use are listed below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The results in Call of Juarez are very similar across the board. Overclocking the CPU has very little effect on this game's performance.

 

Testing

Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)

Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first Allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Q9300 performed right on par against the comparison CPUs.

 

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CPU score in 3DMark06 plays a big part in the overall score in the benchmark. The performance of the Q9300 in this benchmark showcases this. Performance wise, it performs better than the Q6600 in all four resolutions and is beaten by the Phenom at the highest resolution. This was the expected performance.

 

Conclusion:

As a comparison to the existing quad core Intel CPUs, there really is not much of a comparison. The Q9300 just barely performs better than the Q6600 in the comparison field of processors. In many ways, it is handicapped by the lower amount of L2 cache it is equipped with. The clock speed does not in all instances make up for this lack of cache. Don't get me wrong here, in many of the benchmarks the Q9300 was competitive, it just did not have enough to get it to that next level of performance. The processor would do all that it was required to do and did so without any stutters or lag. So the actual "feel" of the chip in operation was really no different than the Q6600 or Q9450. This is where the majority of users will have their experience with this chip. But is this feel worth about $85 dollars more than the bargain Q6600 at $184? Probably not. In the system based tests, the Q9300 performed better than the Q6600 in only 13 out of 35 tests, performed worse in 10 and performed equally in 12. Not really much of an improvement. The Q9450 and Q9770 each out performed it, so there was no real performance comparison there. In the gaming tests, the Q9300 lost slightly more than it won when compared directly with the Q6600 and Phenom. It outperformed them in 11 tests, lost 16 and equaled the performance in five. Not exactly stellar, but not a total loss either. This was most likely due to the higher bus speed on the CPU as well as the clock speed.

When overclocking the Q9300, I was stoked when it went to 450 x 7.5 FSB on stock volts (1.215). My excitement was short lived though, as I could only manage to reach 456 x 7.5 (3420MHz), the lowest overclock I have achieved on any of the quad core CPUs I have tested. Dropping the clock multiplier, increasing the volts, tweaking skew levels, nothing would get it stable any higher. However, at this point 1.31 volts were required for Prime 95 stability. The level of voltage required for the maximum overclock brought a little of the excitement back. Just like its faster brothers, this chip gets hot when the voltage is pushed. After three mounts with the CPU heatsink, temperatures at the 1.31 volt mark were in the low 60s Celsius. This could very well be just a warped heatspreader that needs some attention. If you want a 45nm quad core CPU but the price of the Q9450 and Q9550 are just out of reach, then this would be a good option to go with. Performance junkies might want to give this one a pass as 500+ FSB speeds will be needed to get to the promised land due to the low clock multiplier. If a 45nm quad is not a requirement, then the Q6600 is still a better value for your money.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: