Intel Core2 Q6600 CPU (Updated)

Bosco - 2007-02-14 00:12:00 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: Bosco   
Reviewed on: May 3, 2007
Price: $535.00

 

Introduction:

Please note we have just added the 5400X2 and the E6700 into this review bring a total of 7 CPU's into the article including the Q6600.


It's that time of the year again. Your single or even dual core CPU is starting to feel the strain of multi-tasking, and you just need more power.  That’s right, it's time for that dreaded "U" word. Upgrade.  For the average user, an upgrade comes every couple of years. But for those of us who are always straining to keep up with the bleeding edge of technology, those upgrades can usually be measured in weeks. If you are looking for a new processor, the decision ultimately comes down to either Intel or AMD.  While the two companies have always been trading the performance crown back and forth, currently Intel has a very firm grasp of it.  With the release of its Q6600 processor a couple weeks ago at CES 2007, Intel has tightened that grasp even further. 

That’s right, you read it properly. Q6600 stands for Quad Core 6600.  If a dual core CPU isn’t cutting it, I wonder how a quad core will do.  Intel was nice enough to provide us with a Q6600 engineering sample to perform all of our testing on.  In this review, we will be running over the basic change of CPU architecture as well as the mild overclocking of this processor.  The introduction of a line of quad core processors is a big step for Intel. With the release of the Core 2 Duo CPUs, the company took the lead in CPU performance.  With the release of a Quad line, Intel has propelled itself even further into the lead. As to whether these Quad core CPUs will yield a noticeable difference or not, we will soon find out.  With applications either starting to be produced or updated, programmers are finally starting to include multi-threading support to use multiple CPUs.  The real question that I have been countlessly asked is: "Do quad core CPUs provide actual real life performance gains, or is it purely a benchmark gain?"  That is just one of the questions that this review will be answering!

Closer Look:


There isn’t all that much to look at with this being a CPU review, so I will be taking a brief look over some of the advances for this genre of processor.  When I first got this CPU I had not had that much experience with socket 775 processors.  The IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader) of these CPU’s are actually very small, the processor itself also seems smaller than its P4, and Pentium D brethren.  Though I think the CPU size is about the same, the reason it looks smaller is the low rise IHS, and the slight lip that the IHS has on the sides.
 

Installation:


Installing these CPU’s (Socket 775) is actually a lot different than installing say a 939, 754, or 478 CPU.  With Intel making the jump from pins to pads, there is also a new mounting method to accommodate the transition.  On the CPU socket there is a lever, once unlocked you are able to lift up a metal plate that has a hole in the middle.  Orient your CPU the right way and place it down on the brushes you then flip the ‘pressure plate’ down over the top.  To secure the plate and the CPU down you must push very hard to secure the metal lever that latches the CPU and the plate down.  After the CPU is locked down, place your thermal paste on the CPU and the pop the four pins down into the holes on the motherboard of your cooler.  Pretty basic, though I was surprised at how much force was required to latch the CPU into the socket.

 

Specification:

CPU Core Kentsfield
CPU Socket Socket 775
Clock Frequency 2.4Ghz
FSB (Front Side Bus) 1066Mhz
L2 Cache 8192kB (8MB)
L3 Cache 0
Cores 4
HT (Hyper Threading) -
Integrated Memory Controller -
MMX Yes
SSE Yes
SSE2 Yes
SSE3 Yes
X86-64 Yes
XD-bit Yes
Fabrication Process 65nm
TDP (Max. Power) 105 W

Testing:


For testing this new and blistering Quad core from Intel we will be throwing the usual suite of OCC benchmarks at it and seeing just how fast it can crunch the numbers! I will be comparing this mega-chip to an AMD 4000+ (939), AMD X2 4800+ (939), AMD 5400X2, E6400, E6600 and E6600. Let’s see how things unfold. (We have more CPU reviews on the way).
The reason that a different board was using for test on the Core 2's was to see if they could still do well with an older chipset.

Test Setup
Intel Q6600ES
Intel Bad Axe 2
2x1Gb Mushkin XP8500 (running DDR2-800)
Mushkin 650 Watt PSU
Gigabyte 7900GT
Seagate 750Gb Sata2 HDD
Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2

Intel E6400, E6600, E6700
Gigabyte 965P-DS3
2x1Gb Mushkin XP8500 (running DDR2-800)
Mushkin 650 Watt PSU
Gigabyte 7900GT
Seagate 750Gb Sata2 HDD
Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2

AMD 64 5400+ AM2 CPU
Abit AN9 32x
2x1Gb Mushkin XP8500 (running DDR2-800)
Mushkin 650 Watt PSU
Gigabyte 7900GT
Seagate 750Gb Sata2 HDD
Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2
 

Apophysis


Apophysis uses a very unique fractal rendering engine while some people use it for art, we like to use it for a CPU test, and I did notice that in the task manager I was only using 25% CPU (100% on one core).



Lower is better


Cinebench

Next on the list comes Cinebench, which uses another type of advanced rendering. This benchmark has two tests, one that uses a single core, and one that is multi threaded.





Higher is better


Moving on along down our sometimes long benchmark list is...

ScienceMark



Higher is better
HD Tach

And as always we like to run a set of HDTach benches just to show that CPU/Motherboards have A LOT to do with hard drive speeds as well.


Higher is better



Lower is better



Higher is better
PCMark05

PCMark05 is always a nice test to use, as it provides us with some real life numbers that can be applied to basic tasks.



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better
SpecView

Lastly before we start up our game benchmarks we have SpecView.



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better



Higher is better











Now onto the Gaming benchmarks!

Far Cry:


Far Cry is a very popular FPS (First Person Shooter) it is also a favorite amongst reviewers to use as a benchmark. And as in all of the following benchmarks, the resolutions tested are 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024 and the average frames per second (fps) are recorded.




Settings:






F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R. is one of the newer first person shooters on the market. This game has its own benchmark built into the game. And as in all of the following benchmarks, the resolutions tested are 800x600, 1024x768 and 1280x960.



Settings:

  • FSAA: x4
  • Anisotropic: x16
  • Effects: Max
  • Computer: High
  • Soft Shadow: Off






Doom 3


Doom 3 is a favorite first person shooter of many gamers so it is no wonder why it is a very popular benchmark. This is one of my personal favorites also. And as in all of the following benchmarks, the resolutions tested are 800x600, 1024x768 and 1280x1024. We leave the 60FPS cap on for one reason and that is to see how long to you see the loss and how much the drop will be.




Settings:

  • Graphics: High Quality
  • Antialiasing: x4
  • Advanced Options: Enabled





Call of Duty 2


Call of Duty 2, the second installment to the Call of Duty Series, is an intense action packed WW2 thriller where you can fight on all battlefronts of the European Theater. And as in all of the following benchmarks, the resolutions tested are 800x600, 1024x768 and 1280x1024.



Settings:

  • Anti-aliasing: x4
  • Texture Filter: Trilinear





Need for Speed: Most Wanted


Unlike the other games we benchmarked, this game is not a first person shooter. This is a racing game in which you can choose from a number of vehicles, different types of vehicle setups and also choose which types of race courses you prefer.



Settings:

  • Track: Clubhouse and Hollis
  • All basic video settings set to ¾ on scroll bar
  • All geometric features: High
  • Vsync: Off








Overclocking:


And finally on to the overclocking of this new monster of a chip. I have played with the overclock of this CPU for a while and was able to get up to 3Ghz, which was mostly benchmark stable. Running the CPU up to 334x9 to bring me up to a blistering 3006Mhz, and 1336Mhz FSB. Though I did have to up the core voltage to 1.5V to get a bit more stability for the benchmarks, the Maya test in Specview did force a reboot everytime (no matter what the voltage was set to). I am sure that there is more headroom on this CPU. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be testing and finding the maximum stable OC that I can achieve. Even with the overclock, Quake 4, and Sisoftsandra would not run, I was unable to figure out why, but when / if I do there will be an update posted!

You can find all of the overclocked results within the testing / benchmark graphs on the previous pages.

 

Conclusion:


From all the above results, the only reason to buy the Q6600 over the E6600 or the 6700 would be if you do a LOT of encoding, rendering etc etc. The performance boosts for compression/decompression, and encoding is unsurpassed. However, if you're a casual gamer looking to build a new gaming rig, then I'd have to recommend the E6600. Currently, there are simply too few games that fully take advantage of SMP. Even in games that fully support SMP (Rainbow 6: Vegas), you'll only see improvements of 10-15 fps, which in my mind, isn't worth the extra cost of a quad core chip. Thankfully, with the ability to overclock these processors so easily, you will be able to milk every last drop of performance from them. The raw power that these new CPU’s have to offer makes them the current crème de la crème. I would say my major concern about this processor would be the highly inaccurate temperature reporting that this CPU has.

I am currently working on finding the maximum stable overclock, as well as some high clock benchmark runs. As these Quad core CPU’s are very new there is still some software compatibility, as well as motherboard issues. While the majority of software has made the leap to utilize multiple cores, some have not. This should be a factor when you are buying a CPU, if you are looking for the absolute best in performance, then Intel’s quad core is for you. Intel is selling two models; the QX6700 and the Q6600, clocked at 2.6Ghz, and 2.4Ghz respectively. While the Q6600 is not an ‘Extreme’ model, it still packs more than enough of a punch to tackle even the most hardcore of tasks. Hands down, this Intel Q6600 is the fastest CPU that I have ever had the chance to use, it does very in benchmarks, and sets the bar for other processors. When multi threaded applications are finally main stream, those of us who have one of these chips will be in the spot light for performance. Be sure to check out our forums for my updates on overclocking this CPU with other motherboards that are coming up for review!

With the addition of the 5400X2 from AMD it still does not have the punch that you get from Intel. But if you are on a very tight budget the AMD still does give you acceptable framerates just not as much as Intel's.

After looking over the benchmarks, it’s hard to pick a clear cut winner; but in price vs performance you definitely have to look strongly at the E6600. With overclocking, these CPU’s have the ability to reach 4ghz and that makes them much more appealing for the price. In the gaming benchmarks, you can see just how well the E6400, E6600 and E6700 do against the quad. Now if you have the need for major multi tasking, then the quad is probably a better option. We will be adding more CPU’s to our benchmarking list as the weeks go by so keep checking back often to see how the rest stack up against the quad.




Pros:

 

Performance (In multi-threaded apps)
Thermal Control

Cons:

Price
Compatibility
Poor Temperature Reporting