The benchmark performance of the Core 2 Extreme QX9650, while not disappointing, is certainly not very impressive, at least compared to the Core 2 Extreme QX6850. The latest 45nm Penryn may be the fastest Intel desktop processor, but it's still a Core 2 and at 3.0 GHz, there is a definite limit in what kind of performance improvements it can offer. The new 45nm processor also did better in some benchmarks than others, with media encoding being the brightest light, while office tasks and most games showed very little difference between the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 and QX6850 processors.
Total System Power Consumption Testing
The Core 2 Extreme QX9650 may have shown only small performance increases over the Core 2 Extreme QX6850, but its smaller die size and lower voltage do carry some weight in terms of power consumption. Along with higher clock speeds and greater L2 cache, lower power usage is one of the main benefits for a 45nm part, and we're hoping that the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 hits it out of the park and offers up the first high-end quad core at a reasonable thermal and power envelope.
In order to measure power consumption, we took each of the AMD and Intel reference systems, ran the outlet through a Power Analyzer, and then compiled total system consumption figures (in Watts) for Idle and Load scenarios. In order to keep the systems and results consistent, we used the same configuration for the AMD and Intel processors as listed on the Test Systems page.
The first test measures the total system power usage when the AMD and Intel processors are set to power-saving mode. For AMD, this means enabling Cool'n'Quiet, while for Intel we need to activate Enhanced SpeedStep. The test was performed after the operating system has loaded, and all of the various software and hardware components have initialized and we hit a consistent power reading. These results are very promising, as the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 almost slides down into the dual core area, and is the best-rated quad core in the bunch.
The second test was also performed at idle, but this time under the same scenario that many users employ, with the processors operating at default clock speeds with no power savings enabled. This is performed by manually selecting the clock multiplier in the BIOS and disabling any BIOS and Windows power-saving features. Here, we again see the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 performing extremely well against the other quad core processors, finishing with the lowest power usage at the level.
The third test changes the operating conditions from Idle to Load, and the SANDRA Multimedia CPU benchmark pushes processor usage to 100%, while ensuring that no extraneous hard drive or peripheral activity artificially ramps up the power consumption rates. The results using SANDRA are also incredibly consistent, with the wattage numbers remaining stable through the entire test.
This is probably the most impressive, and important, of the power usage tests, as it shows the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 with an exceptional 214W total system usage at load, an improvement of just over 50W compared to the Core 2 Extreme QX6850. This is exceptional, and note that the 3.0 GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9650 bettered the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ and the entire gamut of quad core Kentsfield models.
Please keep in mind that these numbers relate to total system power consumption, of which the CPU is only one part. In evaluations like this, relative placing is sometimes more important than the base numbers, which can change based on the platform and peripheral mix.