Unfortunately this brings us to the end of our look at the new Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor. First, I would like to apologize for being so brief about this CPU testing, though it is not entirely our fault. Intel sprung this new processor on us just 48 hours ago, giving us very little time to produce this review (in other words, eliminating my weekend as I spent it testing the QX6850).
However, there are still a few concerns I have with an Intel quad-core "Kentsfield" processor clocked at 3.0GHz, which I did not get a chance to fully investigate over the weekend.
First of all the Core 2 Extreme QX6850 does have a thermal design rating of 130 watt, just like the QX6700. However while benchmarking this new quad-core processor we noticed that it ran extremely hot at all times. Idle temperatures appeared to sit over 50 degrees and we were using an after market heatsink (Thermaltake V-1) which is known to perform much better than the standard Intel box cooler. Intel did not send a cooler with the QX6850, so at this point in time we are assuming the same heatsink that was bundled with the QX6700 will come with the QX6850.
Based on what I have seen over the last 2 days it appears that 3.0GHz will be the limit reached by Kentsfield processors as even at this frequency the processor runs far too hot! With the ASUS P5K Deluxe reporting stress temps of around 80 degrees, we were shocked that stability never became an issue. Of course, you can never be 100% sure regarding the accuracy of these temperatures produced by the motherboard, but the board itself became significantly hotter when running the QX6850.
Heat is not the only concern we have with the Core 2 Extreme QX6850, as the $999 price tag is also very extreme. We are already accustomed to Intel jacking up the price of their most prized processors, but that won't keep us from saying that at that price the QX6850 is not flawless enough to justify purchasing. Keeping all this in mind, if you can stop the QX6850 from turning your computer case into an oven then it is a very powerful solution. While the QX6850 was only a fraction quicker than the QX6700, which was a fraction quicker than the Q6600, the performance in applications such as Pinnacle Studio and 3D Studio Max was impressive.
Clearly based on what we have seen today and in the past as well, there is little point on purchasing a quad-core processor if your sole purpose is to play games at very high frame rates. For now quad-core processors are no faster than dual-cores in games and this is unlikely to change in the near future. However, those that spend much of their time in CAD, graphics design or video editing programs really should jump on the quad-core bandwagon today. The performance gains offered by quad-cores in these kinds of applications are massive!
For now we are eagerly awaiting for July 22nd as the 2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor is said to almost halve in price. At just $266 the Q6600 should become a realistic dream for all those running graphic design and video editing applications with a restrained budget. The Core 2 Extreme QX6850 will remain at around $999 for quite some time, making it a pipe dream for most. However, given that the Q6600 is really only slightly slower than the QX6850 and should easily clock to 3.0GHz if need to, users have very little to worry about.