Intel's Core 2 Quadro Kentsfield: Four Cores on a Rampage

Conclusion: Core 2 Quadro Soups Up Performance

Compared with the already not-too-shabby Intel Core 2 Duo/Extreme, the Core 2 Quadro can give performance a mighty tweak - but only for specific applications. In the best-case scenario, performance can even be doubled. However, this depends on the particular program. Software makers have yet to initiate the needed optimizations for multiple physical CPU units. The table below lists a hodgepodge of applications that benefit from four cores right away.

The future belongs to HD content. If we take our benchmarks into consideration you can no longer get by without a quad-core processor. Test results with the software packages Main Concept with H.264 encoding and the WMV-HD conversion make this very clear. We noticed performance jumps of up to 80% when compared to the Core 2 Duo at the same clock speed (2.66 GHz). A Core 2 Quadro at 2.66 GHz and higher is the answer for HD video (editing and rendering) at full HD resolution (1920x1080).

Ambitious video geeks will want to have four cores or even more. But that's still a way off, even as the developers of both AMD and Intel are working on it.

Gaming fans, however, can confidently stick with the Core 2 Duo/Extreme or the legendary Pentium D 805. That's due to a lack of adaptations for four CPUs - in practice, only a maximum of two processors are used in games.

Overclocking fetishists can rest assured. Our test samples ran reliably at 3.33 GHz with no voltage increase - including a sound boost in performance.

With a maximum system power draw of 260 W, the power consumption of the Core 2 Quadro system levels out in the same league as a Pentium EE 965. In idle mode, the system required 167 W - this is the same amount of power that a Core 2 Extreme demands at full load. The reason for this likely lies with incomplete implementation of Intel's SpeedStep technology at this stage. In terms of computing performance, the Core 2 Quadro is worlds apart compared to the classic Pentium 4/D processors: It performs more than twice as fast than the Pentium EE 965, but requires less power input. A Core 2 Quadro does get hotter than a Core 2 Duo/Extreme, though.

Intel intends to offer the top-of-the-line version of the Core 2 Quadro for about $1,000. The customer will bring home a quad-core 2.66 GHz processor with 8 MB of L2 cache.

Topics Programs Performance
Core 2 Quadro vs. Core 2 Duo
3D rendering 3D Studio Max 8.0 100%
video editing Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 80%
HD video encoding Main Concept H.264 70%
video encoding Windows Media Encoder 9 63%
video encoding DivX 6.2 27%
image editing Adobe Photoshop CS2 24%
file compression WinRAR 3.6 10%

Editor's Opinion

For me, working with one of the first quad core systems was amazing. No matter how many applications you run at the same time, the system reacts to user commands quickly. Some applications require half the time to finish tasks. To me, it's like being catapulted a year into the future and is unlike the past few years when computing power increased only marginally. Intel pumped out 30% more performance with Core 2 Duo and will double that again with Core 2 Quadro soon.

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