Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Review

ccokeman - 2008-02-21 18:17:45 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: April 13, 2008
Price: $379.00

Introduction:

The 45nm chips have been out for some time now. The dual core E8400 and E8500 are proven performers, many reaching insane speeds. The problem has been that the only 45nm Yorkfield processors out have been the "Extreme" line-up, specifically the QX9650 and now QX9770 models. While the performance of the Extreme line-up has been well documented but the consumer looking for a non "Extreme" quad core CPU has been left out in the cold...until now. The regular quad core 45nm parts, Q9300, Q9450, and Q9550 are in e-tailors' hands for shipment (If you can find them in stock), so it was high time that a performance testing was in order. With all of the latest games becoming more and more CPU intensive, multiple core CPUs will start to become more advantageous during gameplay, not to mention the benefits during video encoding and workstation productivity.

So what does the Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 offer over its 65nm predecessors to make it an attractive buy? First, there is the additional L2 cache, three megabytes per core versus two per core, a higher bus speed (333MHz vs. 266MHz), higher clockspeed of 2.66GHz instead of the 2.4GHz on the Q6600 that we have grown so fond of. The 45nm manufacturing process has reduced the die size, and hence the power requirements needed to operate. This of course brings the benefit of reduced energy consumption and a lower thermal signature. But hey, this is Overclockerclub, we're not worried about that, so let's get on to seeing just how far the Q9450 can be pushed since that's what really matters. Let's see if the quad core Q9450 can duplicate the results of its dual core cousins.

Closer Look:

The Q9450 is an OEM version and is sent in a standard plastic shell. The foam block securely holds the processor in place during shipment. As an OEM processor, there is no heatsink shipped with it, so an aftermarket cooling solution will be required.  

 

 

The Q9450 is a socket 775 processor sporting a 1333MHz bus speed. As an enthusiast, one of the things that is of interest to me is the headroom over the stock speeds. Many times production codes are looked at and compared to find the best production run. With a new series of processors, that bank of information is not yet available to compare the performance differences between the "steppings." With that in mind, there is always the luck of the draw and the hope that the chip is a good one.

 

 

Specifications:

 

 sSpec Number:
SLAWR
CPU Speed:
2.66 GHz
PCG:
05A
Bus Speed:
1333 MHz
Bus/Core Ratio:
8
L2 Cache Size:
12 MB
L2 Cache Speed:
2.66 GHz
Package Type:
LGA775
Manufacturing Technology:
45 nm
Core Stepping:
C1
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 9450 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 clockspeed 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 9450.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Testing Setup AMD:

 

Comparison Cpus:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

3.2GHz on 1.175 volts was a promising start for this chip. Having a VID of 1.0625v was another plus in the quest to wring some additional performance from the newest from Intel. With the promising start I was very optimistic that the 9450 would be a great clocking chip. 450 x 8 came easily with 1.30 volts on the core and a tweak to the northbridge and FSB voltages to add some stability. Booting at 475 x 8 was possible but did not offer any stability, even with up to 1.75 on the chipset and 1.425v on the CPU core. That was kind of dissapointing, but nevertheless it gave a point to work down from. Lowering the clockspeed a bit at a time, I reached stability at 463 x 8 with 1.360 volts to the core and 1.6 volts to the northbridge. Not too shabby for a day's work! The temperatures did not seem to scale with the voltage like the QX9770 and Q6600s do, but the 9450 still gets a little warm. With 1.37 volts, I saw 64C with the less than optimum heatsink I used.

 

 

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. 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 Q9450 finished the rendering of the image nine minutes faster than the Q6600. In WinRar, the 9450 showed the value of the extra L2 cache that the Yorkfield processors possess.

 

 

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.

 

Performance across the board in Specview is fairly similar at stock settings on the 45nm quads. The Q6600 performs at an expected lower level.

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 Q9450 showed the value of having a higher core clockspeed in the Sandra benchmarking. The slightly higher bus speed did help it overcome the Q6600 in most of the benchmarks.

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

 

Handily beating the Q6600 in these performance bechmarks was the expected result. Higher core clockspeeds and a higher front side bus should outperform a lower clocked processor. Drive performance shows little to no difference between processors.

 

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

CPU:

 

 

 

 

GPU:

 

 

 

 

In the gaming benchmarks, the Q9450 performed worse than the Q6600 only twice. Increasing the CPU speed had little effect on the numbers generated in this test.

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 QX9770 takes the lead in the 1024 x 768 resolution based purely on its 3.2 GHZ clockspeed. The Q9450 stays ahead of the Q6600 through all four resolutions. As the resolutions increase, clockspeed plays a smaller role in the overall performance.

 

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:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance across the resolutions was similar between the 45nm processors. The 65nm Q6600 kept up with the 45nm processors until the 1920x1200 resolution despite the lower amount of cache.

 

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:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance results were relatively close between the QX9770 and Q9450 in this benchmark. Kind of surprising actually, considering the core clockspeed difference. The Q6600 puts up a good fight but is beaten in three of the four resolutions tested while the lone offering from AMD pulls ahead in the 1920 x 1200 resolution.

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overclocking the CPU results in gains at 1024 x 768 of 4 FPS. The Q9450 stays ahead of 65nm Q6600 in all four resolutions tested. Framerates of the AMD offering were a constant 28FPS in all four 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was little gain in performance between the Intel offerings at all of the resolutions. The Q9450 outperformed the QX9770 and Q6600 at the 1680x 1050 resolution. This just goes to show that CPU speed is not everything in gaming.

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, performance between the Intel line up is similar. On the other hand, the AMD offering just cleans up in this benchmark leading in all four resolutions.

 

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 Q9450 again outperforms the Q6600. The Q6600 falls anywhere between 400 to 900+ points behind the Q9450, a difference that is not wholly dependent on the CPU speed as 266MHz will not make that kind of difference possible.

 

Conclusion:

The performance of the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 was better than the ol' familiar Q6600. This, of course, was the expectation going into the testing. In the scientific benchmarks, the Q9450 pulled out ahead in 20 out of 35 tests. While that does not seem like a world beater, 9 of the 35 tests were drive related and the expectation is that no change would happen. So taken as 20 out of 26 tests, this looks a bit better. In the gaming tests, it pulled ahead of the Q6600 in 25 of 36 tests. Surprising? No! The performance of the Q9450 in the gaming tests show that game performance falls for the most part between the old standby and the king of the hill, the QX9770. In some of the tests, the performance of Q9450 was on par with that of the QX9770.

Am I disappointed in the overclocking headroom available from this processor. Not in the least! With the insane speeds being offered up by the dual core variants, I was still searching for a bit more than the 3.7GHz I was able to pull from this quad core processor. But even though I was expecting more, a greater than 1 GHz overclock is nothing to laugh at. The clockspeed increase was also done with a relatively low 1.36 volts to the processor. Much less than I have needed with both my Q6600 and QX9770s to gain the maximum core speed. Temperatures were, for the most part, kept in check throughout the testing. 64 degrees Celsius under load was the highest temperature I saw on air cooling during my stability testing with Prime 95. With better cooling, could the max overclock be increased? Probably, but the vast majority of users will be on air, so that's where I spent my time testing.

As enthusiasts, many times we buy a lower end processor hoping for increased performance so that we do not have to spend big coin on the top rated processors. Of course, with the big bucks come a guarantee of processor speed whereas in overclocking your mileage may vary. What you have with the Q9450 when overclocked is performance that beats the QX9770 in all but a few instances. On this account the Q9450 is a success. Ultimately, it means top end performance for bottom line dollars (at least for a Quad Core). Priced at $379, it does cost more than the Q6600, but is a far cry from the $1400 of the QX9770. Again, on this point it is a success. But is the performance that much better than the Q6600 it replaces for that same price? It really depends on what you want to do. In the scientific testing, it sure was. In the gaming, it was not as much of an improvement as I would have hoped for. For almost $200 more (at this point), the price may be a bit steep to make a switch from the old to the new, but ultimately any performance increase for an enthusiast is an increase. The Q9450 performance scales well as the clockspeeds increase, so with that being said, quad core 45nm performance can be had without the "Extreme" dollars that were needed up till this point. The price/performance ratio is there. If you are in the market for a new quad to add to the stable or just looking for a performance boost, Intel's non "Extreme" 45nm quad core is out right now! Finally!

 

Pros:

 

Cons: