Intel pulls curtain back on the Core 2 Quad Q6600

Since our first review of the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, we knew Intel was planning to introduce a lower-priced quad-core processor at some point in the first quarter of 2007. Turns out today is the day Intel has chosen to unveil the Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU, to coincide with the opening of CES 2007 in Las Vegas. As expected, the Q6600 is clocked at 2.4GHz and will carry a price tag of $851. Like Intel’s other quad-core processors, the Q6600 is actually two Core 2 Duo chips situated together on a single LGA775 package. Unlike its QX6700 big brother, the Q6600 has a more reasonable 105W TDP rating.

To understand the prospects for quad-core performance, let me suggest reading a couple of our articles. My original review of the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 compared this quad-core processor’s performance to a range of dual-core CPUs in a broad array of typical desktop apps. From this exercise, we learned that quad-cores benefits are rather limited, since even many multithreaded applications or tasks don’t use more than two threads. I then turned my attention to more highly multithreaded applications in my Quad FX review, in which the QX6700 was prominently featured. There, we found that that quad-core processors do hold some promise, given the right software, and that Intel’s quad-core offering is more attractive for power and performance than AMD’s Quad FX.

Due to its relatively low clock speed, the Q6600 will perform similarly to a mid-range Core 2 Duo CPU in single- and dual-threaded apps. And, of course, it will offer somewhat lower performance than the QX6700 due its 266MHz lower clock frequency. Damage Labs is locked into GPU-testing mode right now, so we don’t have any performance results for the Q6600 yet, but we’ll see about rectifying that before too long.

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