Intel Core 2 Extreme Edition QX9770 review

£500600
Price when reviewed

In a moderately blatant attempt to fully steal Phenom’s performance thunder, Intel has released samples of its Extreme edition CPU slated to be released at the beginning of 2008. The QX9770 is architecturally identical to the current top-end QX9650, but with a speed hike to 3.2GHz and a 1,600MHz FSB. TDP (thermal design power) is up to a hefty 136W, but in practical use it doesn’t appear to use anything like that much.

The eagle-eyed among you will spot the fact the new part has an FSB of 1,600MHz must mean that there’s no way to test it – there’s no consumer-level chipset with an FSB frequency over 1,333MHz. Fortunately the Gigabyte X38-chipset-based GA-X38T-DQ6 runs perfectly happily at the higher speed.

The QX97700 is outrageously overclockable. When we first fired up our test system, it defaulted to the wrong FSB and clock multiplier settings, giving a clock speed of 3.6GHz. Our benchmarks ran without a hitch at this speed. This is without the heatsink even being clamped down.

You’ll have to wait to get your hands on one though; Intel’s official word is that it will be released “In Q1 2008” and will cost “More than the current QX9650”. That’s to say, more than £500.

As a technology demonstration it’s extraordinarily impressive; as a shoddy tactic to steal AMD’s thunder it’s less so. But with AMD struggling to find its feet with production of the competitor Phenom FX parts, there’s currently no alternative if you want the fastest possible desktop processor regardless of cost.

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