Intel Core 2 Duo E7200
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650
Cooler Master V8 Heatsink
4GB OCZ Reaper DDR2
ASUS P5Q-E Motherboard
Palit HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition
Samsung 160 GB 7,200 RPM (OS Installed)
Windows Vista Home Basic
Western Digital 74 GB Raptor 10,000 RPM SATA
Western Digital 120 GB 7,200 RPM
Creative X-Fi Sound Card
550w BFG Technologies PSU
SilverStone FT01 Case
2x 180mm Case Fans
1x 120mm Case Fan
Installation took about 45 minutes as I had to take the motherboard out of the case in order to remove the Cooler Master V8 heatsink. Once removed, I prepped the chip by first cleaning its surface with isopropyl alcohol then inserting it into the socket, securing it in place and adding a coat of Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste. Reinstall the heatsink and motherboard and that's that.
I will be comparing the Q9650 against a Core 2 Duo E7200. Yeah, I know this isn't really a "fair fight," but this should give most users a good idea of what a high-end Core 2 family chip is capable of against a lower end model - essentially what you could expect by upgrading your older chip with a Q9650.
The E7200 has a default clock speed of 2.53 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB, features 3MB of L2 cache and has a TDP of 65W. Like the Q9650, the E7200 is also built using the 45 nm manufacturing process.
Both processors will be tested at default, moderate overclock and high overclock.
E7200 @ 2.5 GHz (9.5 x 266 = 2527 MHz)
E7200 @ 3.0 GHz (9.5 x 316 = 3002 MHz)
E7200 @ 3.4 GHz (9.5 x 360 = 3420 MHz)
Q9650 @ 3.0 GHz (9 x 333 = 2997 MHz)
Q9650 @ 3.7 GHz (9 x 410 = 3690 MHz)
Q9650 @ 4.0 GHz (9 x 445 = 4005 MHz)
Here we have a few screen pics of the various BIOS settings, shown clocked at 4.0 GHz. If you notice, it took 1.325v to get the CPU stable at 4 GHz. Other settings include disabling CPU Speed Spectrum and C1E Support.
Each of these chips can no doubt clock higher, but I would feel better doing so with a good water cooling system. The Q9650 reached as high as 59 C under load when clocked to 4 GHz, which is about as hot as I felt comfortable with. Perhaps I will pick up a water kit and do another Q9650 overclocking article in the near future to really push this chip. That being said, if you plan to do any overclocking with a stock heatsink, keep an eye on temperatures as they will rise very quickly, especially when increasing voltage.
I put both processors through a series of benchmarks including synthetic, games and real-world tests. The following tests were conducted on each processor:
SiSoft Sandra Arithmetic
SiSoft Sandra Multi-Media
SiSoft Sandra Multi-Core Efficiency
Cinebench Release 10
Far Cry 2
Windows Movie Maker Compression Times
I had intended to include two other games in this list but my GPU seemed to be the bottleneck in both of these tests, as all of the average FPS results were within 1 frame of each other, regardless of CPU or clock speed. For these reasons, I excluded both of these benchmarks.
Continue ahead as we get things started...