The Core 2 Quad Q6600 is yet another impressive Intel processor and the first to be launched in 2007. Nevertheless, quad-core technology is still ahead of its time, and it will take some time before this technology delivers the kind of performance-per-watt that the Core 2 Duo does. There were a few programs that favored the quad-core processors notably, though for the most part similarly clocked Core 2 Duo processors can deliver the same performance.
Original Intel plans to unveil this processor with an $850 price tag would have earned the Q6600 a poor value reputation; fortunately they changed their mind on time. Even at $530 the Core 2 Quad Q6600 is going to be an expensive bet given that the equally clocked Core 2 Duo E6600 is available for about $350 with near future plans of a price cut. The E6600 delivers the same performance in games and many other Windows-based applications. Furthermore, the E6600 uses half as much power and will most certainly overclock better. Therefore we feel that for 90% of todays tasks, the dual-core E6600 is a better processor when compared to the Q6600. No doubt this kind of scenario will change over time, but for now and many months to come, the majority of consumers will be better off with a Core 2 Duo processor.
Update (01/08): Intel has now confirmed that initial pricing for the Core 2 Quad Q6600 will be $851 in 1,000 quantities. This means they will be keeping their original pricing strategy that sets the Q6600 just below the QX6800, making for a less impressive introduction. According to this plan Intel will be reducing the Q6600 price later this year to $530 (in the coming 3-4 months), when it will probably give more life to it as a more affordable quad-core solution.
That said, the launch of the quad-core processor is a huge milestone for Intel and quite a big success for the company. The Q6600 is another leap in the right direction for Intel, as it will give many more users the option of quad-core technology. Todays video editing software seems to benefit the most from this new technology, followed by image editing software. However, those that like to multi-task like crazy will also enjoy the power of a quad-core processor. The Q6600 and other multi-core processors should also prove to be very beneficial when running Microsofts latest operating system, Windows Vista.
The Q6600 and QX6700 quad-core processors are amazing even when they are just two Core 2 Duo processors under the one roof. Ideally, a dedicated 8MB L2 cache could have made these quad-core processors even better, however for this to happen Intel would have had to re-engineer the processor from the ground up, so we understand why this never took place. Back when we first tested the QX6700 we were a little surprised that this processor used the existing 1066MHz FSB.
This year Intel will be moving some of their newer processors to a 1333MHz FSB. After running some in-house tests however we discovered that the Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo CPUs do not benefit much from the faster bus. Therefore we conclude once again that for now the biggest limitation of the Q6600 is not actually in the hardware, but in the software that it powers.