The overall benchmark performance of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 was about where we expected, although some portions offered a nice surprise. One of these was memory performance, where the extra bandwidth offered by the 1600 MHz CPU bus provided results close to that of AMD's integrated memory controller. This is a huge step for Intel, and proves that no single memory controller strategy is unbeatable. System application results also increased, and made use of the FSB1600/DDR2-1066/3.2 GHz triumvirate to break a lot of records. The gaming results, as expected, were a real mixed bag, and while some increased noticeably, others remained tied to the graphics card.
Total System Power Consumption Testing
The Core 2 Extreme QX9770 may only be an incremental upgrade compared to the Core 2 Extreme QX9650, but as mentioned earlier, the new 45nm processor does have a higher TDP rating. Lower power consumption represents one of main goals of a 45nm processor core, and although the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 hit it out of the park with some exceptional results, we'll have to see how the higher 3.2 GHz clock speed and a 1600 MHz CPU bus of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 affect the numbers.
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 show a noticeable increase compared to the Core 2 Extreme QX9650, although the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 still manages to beat out the Core 2 Extreme QX6850.
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. There is not much change in the overall Intel results, although the AMD processors do jump up considerably.
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.
The Core 2 Extreme QX9650 posted an exceptional 214W total system usage at load, which is significantly lower than the 246W of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770. Part of this is the higher system and CPU power draw, but a portion of it was due to the higher fan speed.
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.