Intel Increases The Bus Speed and Lowers Prices

At the beginning of this week, Intel officially introduced their flagship Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor to go along with the recently announced Core 2 Duo E6550, E6750 and E6850 series processors. While all these processors have different model numbers, they do have one thing in common, a new faster 1333MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) for improved performance that has replaced the old 1066MHz FSB. For overclockers this is nothing new as reaching a FSB of 1333MHz could easily be reached with the right hardware, but now with the introduction of the Intel P35 'Bearlake" chipset and upcoming X38 chipsets, a FSB of 1333MHz is now supported without 'overclocking' the system components. Other than Intel chipsets, third party chipset designers like NVIDIA also support these new 1333MHz FSB processors, giving consumers a multitude of boards to pick from when building a new system.

For our dedicated readers that came looking for our launch article a few days ago and didn't find it, please note that we were waiting on something to be sent to us before running all of our benchmarks.  For these new 1333MHz processors we wanted to run them on the ASUS P5K3 Deluxe motherboard with latest and greatest DDR3 memory. Just this past week Kingston Technology announced a new HyperX kit that operates at 1333MHz with 5-7-5-15 timings and since none of the four brands of DDR3 have reviewed offer timings tighter than CL7 timings we made the move to wait.  By chosing to wait, it delayed the article by several days, but by doing so improved the system's performance by a significant amount (greater than five percent in a number of cases).

Now that we are armed with the latest memory, chipsets and motherboard BIOS revisions, Legit Reviews will be covering both the new Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and the Core 2 Duo E6750 dual-core processor.  Both offer the new 1333MHz FSB and are monsters when it comes to performance and overclocking as you are about to find out.  

Intel

Looking at the QX6850 and the E6750 the look identical, but don't let the looks deceive you. The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 is a quad-core processor, running at 3.0 GHz with 8MB of L2 cache and features a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 130W.  The Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 is a dual-core processor, running at 2.66GHz with 4MB of L2 cache and features a TDP of 65-75W.  Other than those key differences, both processors are nearly identical as they are built with the same 65nm manufacturing process and contain Intel Core 2 microarchitecture.

Intel

If you are already wondering when these bad boys will be available, Intel has informed Legit Reviews that all of their 1333 MHz FSB parts should be available at your favorite retailer in roughly two weeks or so. As previously mentioned, LR will just be covering the Core 2 Extreme QX6850 and the Core 2 Duo E6750 in this article, but Intel is also launching two other processors today: The Core 2 Duo E6850 and Core 2 Duo E6550. This means that Intel now has four 1333MHz FSB parts on the market today that range in price from just $163 all the way up to the multiplier unlocked Core 2 Extreme QX6850 for $999.

Processor Cores Frequency Front-side Bus L2 Cache Price
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 4 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz 8 MB $999
Core 2 Quad Q6700 4 2.66 GHz 1066 MHz 8 MB $530
Core 2 Duo E6850 2 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $266
Core 2 Duo E6750 2 2.66 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $183
Core 2 Duo E6550 2 2.33 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $163

These new prices are by far the most exciting part of this product launch as last week Newegg was selling the Core 2 Duo E6700 for $318 and now Core 2 Duo E6850 can be had $183 and has a faster Front Side Bus.  With this product launch Intel has been able to improve performance and reduce prices at the same time.  It's not every day you pay less and get more, but this is obviously one of them and it happened just before the back to school shopping season. Thank the on-going price war between AMD and Intel for this one!

Let's take a look at these new processors and see how they stack up against recent releases from AMD and Intel, but before you go on be sure to catch up on our more recent processor reviews.

Test Systems

The Test System

The DDR3 Test System

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode! The memory on the Intel and AMD test platforms with DDR2 memory was run with Corsair PC2-6400C3 memory running 2GB at 3-4-3-9 2T timings at 800MHz except for the Intel quad-core system as it was run at 3-3-3-9. The memory timings on the Quad FX system were set to 4-4-4-12 and the V8 system was set to 5-5-5 at 667MHz. The DDR3 test system used Kingston HyperX PC3-11000 memory kit and was run at 1333MHz with 5-7-5-15 1T timings at 1.8 Volts.  The ASUS P5K3 motherboard was updated from BIOS version 0405 that was used in our last DDR3 article to BIOS version 0604 by using ASUS flash.  This BIOS update did impact the performance numbers, so if you own this motherboard you will want to update to the latest BIOS.

Here is the Intel P35 Express Test platform:

DDR3 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 & QX6850

Motherboard

ASUS P5K3 Deluxe

Memory

2GB Kingston HyperX PC3-11000

Video Card

ATI Radeon X1900XTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital RaptorX

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the AMD Scoket AM2 Test platform:

AMD AM2 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

All AMD AM2 Processors

Motherboard

DFI NF590 SLI-M2R 

Memory

Corsair PC2-6400C3

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

2x Western Digital 500MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the Intel Test Platform:

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

All LGA775 Processors

Motherboard

Intel D975XBX rev304

Memory

Corsair PC2-6400C3

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

2x Western Digital 500MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Here is the Intel Quad-Core Test Platform:

Intel Quad-Core Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

All LGA775 Processors

Motherboard

eVGA 680i SLI

Memory

Corsair PC2-8888 Dominator

Video Card

ATI X1900XTX

Hard Drive

2x Western Digital 500MB

Cooling

Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply

PC Power & Cooling 1KW

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

Let's move on and take a look at the testing!

Sisoft; Sandra XI SP4

Sisoft; Sandra XI SP4:

SiSoftware, founded in 1995, is one of the leading providers of computer analysis, diagnostic and benchmarking software. The flagship product, known as "SANDRA", was launched in 1997 and has become one of the most widely used products in its field. SANDRA is used by almost 400 world-wide IT publications, magazines, review sites to analyze the performance of todays computers.

Multi-Core Support: SMP (multi-processor) and SMT (multi-threading/Hyper-Threading) support has been added for future AMD and Intel CPUs. The benchmarks have been optimized to schedule the optimum number of threads on the optimum (virtual) CPU on both multi-core and Hyper-Threaded computers.

Sisoft Sandra 2007

The pair of Intel Xeon X5365 processors on the Intel S5000XVN workstation board make short work of the other processors that we compared it to. The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 comes in ahead of the slower clocked QX6750 as it should with a nice margin and the Intel E6750 had more mFlops, but less MIPS than the E6700. 

Sisoft Sandra 2007

The Intel QX6850 and E6750 really shined in the memory bandwidth test as the latest DDR3 memory from Kingston Technology with CL5 timings did very well compared to test systems. 

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a

Processor Performance on Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13a:

The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer was developed from DKBTrace 2.12 (written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins) by a bunch of people (called the POV-Team) in their spare time. It is an high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package. These scenes can be modified so you do not have to start from scratch. In addition to the pre-defined scenes, a large library of pre-defined shapes and materials is provided. You can include these shapes and materials in your own scenes by just including the library file name at the top of your scene file, and by using the shape or material name in your scene. Since this is free software feel free to download this version and try it out on your own.

The most significant change from the end-user point of view between versions 3.6 and 3.7 is the addition of SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support, which in a nutshell allows the renderer to run on as many CPU's as you have installed on your computer. This will be particularly useful for those users who intend on purchasing a dual-core CPU or who already have a two (or more) processor machine. On a two-CPU system the rendering speed in some scenes almost doubles. For our benchmarking we used version 3.7 as all of the processors we are testing today are dual-core.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13

Once rendering on the object we selected was completed, we took the score from dialog box, which indicates the average PPS for the benchmark. A higher PPS indicates faster system performance.

Pov-Ray 3.7 Beta 13

Looking at the overall render score, the winner is clear by a long shot.  The pair of Intel quad-core Xeon X5365 processors blow the other processors away and more than doubles the performance levels seen on the AMD QuadFX platforms. The new Intel QX6850 scored 391 points higher (24%) than it's little brother, the QX6700. The Intel E6750 out performed the E6700 by 74 points (8%), which shows what one would expect when moving from a FSB of 1066 to 1333MHz.

POV-Ray Real-Time Raytracing

The morning the Intel QX6700 article was to be posted Legit Reviews was e-mailed by one of the developers over at POV-Ray to see if LR could include real-time raytracing in our performance analysis of Kentsfield.  After spending a bit of time to get the beta software to work correctly LR has some of the only real-time raytracing numbers available for Conroe and Kentsfield. 

E-Mail From POV-Ray -- I thought I might ping you about an experimental feature we've added to the POV-Ray SMP beta: real-time raytracing. It's mostly useful to folks who have multi-core systems and in fact is something that I've wanted to do for years but the hardware just wasn't there (at least not in the consumer price range). It works best on a kentsfield or later, but a core 2 duo should be sufficient if you don't mind sub-10fps frame rates.

If you want to try it out it please feel free to grab it from:  http://www.povray.org/beta/rtr/

POV-Ray real-time raytracing Results

This experimental software by POV-Ray was a welcomed addition to our testing and was able to spread the work load across all eight cores on our V8 test system as seen above. The number that is used to gauge performance is shown in the status bar at the bottom of the main window as seen in the above image of with Intel V8 test system with two Xeon X5365 processors taking care of the rendering.

POV Ray RTR Benchmark Chart

The Intel QX6850 showed off nice numbers in POV-Ray raytracing and it's amazing to see how fast these processors have gotten.  The first processor I used on this benchmark was the Intel E6300 and at just 4.80 FPS it seemed like a hopeless benchmark.  Now we are seeing frame rates in the teens and above, which is amazing! None of the desktop procesors come close to the pair of quad-core Xeon X5365 processors, but 14.28 FPS is very fast. The Intel E6750 comes in at half the FPS, but this is expected as it has half the number of cores and has a lower clock frequency.  

CineBench 9.5

MAXON; CINEBENCH 9.5:

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer?s performance in everyday use. Especially a system?s CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Cinebench 9.5

Cinebench 9.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench 9.5

Our SMP Cinebench 9.5 results show a two second drip between the Intel QX6700 and the QX6850, but let me explain how the increase is so great.  When running the Intel QX6850 with 1333MHz memory at 7-7-7-20 timings it would score 14 seconds every time.  After getting in Kingston's new memory kit with 5-7-5-15 timings we were able to drop a full second off our benchmark results. The higher FSB and memory combination on the E6750 was also amazing as it beat out the 'old' Intel E6700 by a full five seconds on this great SMP benchmark!

WinRar v3.70

RARLAB - WinRar v3.70 has a multithreaded version of the RAR compression algorithm, which improves the compression speed on computers with several CPU, dual core CPU and processors with hyperthreading technology. Multithreading is enabled by default, but you can disable it in "General" part of "Settings" dialog.

WinRAR on Quad-Core

When we ran WinRAR on the Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor QX6700 we noticed that it used roughly 80-84% of the 2.66GHz quad-core processor, so it makes for a decent SMP benchmark. 

WinRAR on Eight Cores

When running WinRAR on the eight cores using a pair of Xeon X5365 processors, the CPU utilization was even lower at roughly 75-78%, which is something interesting to point out. Also, notice that the performance decreased when moving from the quad-core system to the eight core system. Lets a look at the multithreaded testing results and see how things turned out.

WinRAR Benchmark Results

The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 processor easily took the lead thanks to the fact that it has better memory bandwidth thanks to its low latency DDR3 modules versus the FB-DIMMs that the Xeon workstation board uses and DDR2 kits on the other boards. The Intel E6750 was almost able to keep up with the X6800, which for those that follow processors used to be more than $1000 when it was released.  Now a $183 processor is performing at roughly the same levels. 

Futuremark 3DMark06

3DMark 2006 v1.1.0

3DMark06 includes an array of 3D graphics, CPU and 3D feature tests for overall performance measurement of current and future PC gaming systems. With this broader design approach, 3DMark06 has become the benchmark of choice for all PCs with top-of-the-line graphics hardware and CPUs. 3DMark06 is the first product from Futuremark using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library in two very complex, game-like threaded CPU tests conceived to measure properly performances of single processor, multi-core and multiple processor systems in next generation of games. In addition to using real-time physics, both CPU tests also employ multi-threaded artificial intelligence algorithms. By combining the results of the two CPU tests and four graphics tests, 3DMark06 enables users to get a 3DMark score which reflects the overall gaming performance of their PC.

3DMark 2006

The overall score on Futuremark 3DMark 2006 didn't increase that much, but the QX6850 and E6750 made short work of the QX6700 and E6700 and passed up their older counter-parts.

3DMark 2006

While the overall score from the test didn't show a significant difference, the CPU test showed that the pair of Intel Xeon 5365 processors kicked some serious ass even though they slightly lost the overall 3dmark test. The AMD FX-62 processor that was just launched a year ago on May 23, 2006 for $1031 can only score a third of what a pair of these Xeon processors can do. The Intel QX6850 scored an impressive 4763 points on the CPU test, which is the highest we have ever seen from a single processor platform. The Intel E6750 scored 50 points more than the E6700 thanks to the additional FSB.

Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds.  The systems ran with the power supplies, case fan, video card and hard drive model.  To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement.

Power Consumption at Idle

When it came to idle power consumption, the AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ consumed the more than any of the other processor on a single socket platform that we tested. By enabling AMD's Cool’n’Quiet feature we were able to go from consuming the most to nearly the least amount of power! AMD really has made strides with idle and power consumption for those that enable Cool’n’Quiet (C’n’Q in the charts) in Windows. AMD's 65nm Brisbane-based 4800+ processor took the overall lead when it came to having the best power consumption.  When it comes to the QuadFX and V8 systems, these dual socket platforms obviously consume more power as they have another power hungry processor to keep running. Another reason for the large jump up is due to the chipsets that the motherboards use on the QuadFX and V8 platforms, so remember not all the Watt increase is due to the CPU alone.

Power Consumption at Load

At load the processors performed as exptected with the Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 consuming 165W and the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 using up 235W at full load.

**TIP** If you are interested in saving even more money every month try switching to an Active PFC power supply!

Overclocking

We checked our processors with CPU-Z and determined that both our Intel QX6850 and E6750 were "B" steppings with a die revision of G0. Overclocking results will vary between different steppings and die revisions, so please keep this in mind.

Overclocking the QX6850:

 As previously mentioned the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 comes clocked at 3.00GHz and it's performance is impressive to say the least, but that doesn't mean you can't get more out of it. We used the Corsair Nautilus 500 water cooler to help keep the four cores cool and then overclocked our Stepping B QX6850 processor.

QX6850 Stock Speeds

Using the ASUS PK53 Deluxe motherboard and BIOS version 0604 we set off to overclock the processor by increasing the front side bus (FSB) and the voltages that are found in the BIOS.

Image Description

After cranking up the voltage on the processor from 1.4250V we were able to reach 4.05GHz, which is an overclock of 1045MHz!  This was a stable overclock and was impressive for a quad-core processor! We hit a wall at 450MHz, but that's not a bad point to reach!

Overclocking the E6750:

Image Description

The Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 processor is clocked at 2.66GHz right out of the box with a FSB of 333MHz. 

Overclocked QX6700 Results

We were able to crank up the FSB all the way to 460MHz without even touching the voltages on the board. After increasing the CPU voltage to 1.4500V the FSB was able to be increased 20MHz higher to 480MHz FSB or a quad pumped speed of 1920MHz, which is more than we expected to hit. This is an overclock of 1169MHz,  an overclock of 44%, on a processor that comes at a lucrative price point. For a processor that runs $183 when purchased in 1,000-unit quantities it means that this processor is going to be a monster for the enthusiast market as the sub $200 price point is within the reach of nearly all enthusiasts and gamers.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

Intel

After testing the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 and Core 2 Duo E6750 it leaves no doubt that these are two fast processors that pack some serious punch when overclocked on the right platform. We don't have to think twice before saying that the Core 2 Extreme QX6850 is hands down the fastest desktop processor on the market. The Core 2 Extreme QX6850 also comes with the famed $999 Extreme price tag, which puts it out of reach for many, but remember, Intel lowered the price on the now mainstream Core 2 Quad Q6700. The Core 2 Quad Q6700 is now priced at $530 and I have yet to see one that can't be overclocked to 1333MHz, so for those wanting a 'bargain' chip to overclock this might be your ticket to some fun.

The Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 was by far the highlight of this article as it comes at an affordable $183 and is one of the best overclocking processors I have seen in years. By being able to leave all the settings on the ASUS P5K3 Deluxe on "auto", I was able to take this processor up to 460MHz FSB (1840MHz quad-pumped), which took it from being 2.66GHz to 3.68GHz. This is more than enough to push all of the chipsets and memory kits on the market today, which means enthusiasts will be in heaven! The introduction of the Core 2 Extreme QX6850 and Core 2 E6750 with support for a 1,333MHz FSB and new steppings was done at the perfect time as the back-to-school shopping season is starting to take off and AMD just got a little more behind on the performance side.

Processor Cores Frequency Front-side Bus L2 Cache Price
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 4 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz 8 MB $999
Core 2 Quad Q6700 4 2.66 GHz 1066 MHz 8 MB $530
Core 2 Duo E6850 2 3.0 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $266
Core 2 Duo E6750 2 2.66 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $183
Core 2 Duo E6550 2 2.33 GHz 1333 MHz 4 MB $163

Without question, Intel has become very aggressive with pricing, but I predict this will not go on for much longer as some reports are saying AMD has declared a cease fire. Combine this news, and the news of Intel's gross-profit margin falling below its forecast, hurts both of these companies and their investors. Intel has a lower gross-profit margin this year because its margin was hurt by lower average selling prices on their microprocessors.

The future of Kentsfield and Conroe look strong seeing how high they are able to overclock, but with Intel Penryn coming up down the road map, the full potential might never been seen on these processors as their replacements are coming down the pipe. With the upcoming release of the X38 series chipset, it wouldn't surprise us if we didn't see another frequency or FSB increase as these processors can handle it.  AMD hasn't released a desktop processor since the AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ back in February 2007 and it looked like they were playing catch-up then. They certainly need to catch up now as they are about to get lapped on the performance level.

Legit Bottom Line: Having a Front Side Bus (FSB) of 1066MHz is old news as Intel has now officially moved over to a faster 1333MHz FSB that helps improve performance.  The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 is now the flagship processor and rightly so as it dished out the pain with ease.  The Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 offers some serious bang for your buck and should be popular this fall for the back to school shopping season.