Intel Q9550S: A Greener Quad Core?

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Intel's Q9550S: A Greener Quad Core?

June 22, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S
LGA775 Processor
Manufacturer Intel
Street Price US$335~$360

The high-end desktop processor market is saturated with products that use a lot of energy. The fastest, Intel's Core i7s, all have thermal envelopes of 130W. AMD's highest-clocked Phenom II quad cores are rated for 125W, while most Intel Core 2 Quads are rated for 95W. Intel is in a enviable position with a sizable lead in performance at the very top, and energy efficient alternatives to rival the best AMD has to offer.

Enter Intel's Q9550S, Q9400S, Q8400S, and Q8200S, 65W variants of some of the existing Core 2 Quad line. Rather than ramp up the performance of their Core 2 Quads (which would eat into their Core i7 and future Core i5 profits), Intel has taken a page from AMD's book, releasing more energy efficient chips. AMD brands their energy efficient chips with an "E" at the end of their model numbers, while Intel has decided to use "S."

Comparison Table: Current Intel Core 2 Quad Lineup
Model
Clock Speed
Total L2 Cache
TDP
Mfg.
Price
Best Online Price
Q9650
3.00 GHz
12MB
95W
$316
$320
Q9550S
2.83 GHz
12MB
65W
$320
$335
Q9550
2.83 GHz
12MB
95W
$266
$220
Q9400S
2.66 GHz
6MB
65W
$277
$287
Q9400
2.66 GHz
6MB
95W
$213
$214
Q8400S
2.66 GHz
4MB
65W
$245
N/A
Q8400
2.66 GHz
4MB
95W
$183
$174
Q8300
2.50 GHz
4MB
95W
$183
$190
Q8200S
2.33 GHz
4MB
65W
$183
$236
Q8200
2.33 GHz
4MB
95W
$163
$160
Pricing according to Intel's Processor Price List and SPCR/Pricegrabber as of June 18

A 30W drop in power is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a high performance chip like the Q9550 that's likely to be put to good use on demanding applications. Lower power consumption has obvious benefits, namely a reduction in operating cost, but from silent computing perspective, a lower power processor puts out less heat, making it easier to cool quietly. A 65W Core 2 Quad would be a better choice for a small form factor system where performance cannot be sacrificed yet cooling is not optimal. The "S" versions do come with a heavy price premium, though. Currently, the slower model S processors retail for $75 more than their 95W counterparts. For the Q9550S, the difference is $115.


Our Q9550S sample.



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