On Monday, Intel announced the creation of a new quad core processor. The obvious change from the QX6700 to the QX6800 is a frequency boost from 2.66 GHz up to 2.93 GHz. Although this only matches the speed of the existing Intel Core2 Extreme dual core processor, it has the added bonus of two more cores.
What you might not have read about is that the processors are being sold to a limited number of outlets. The word on the street is that only 2,500 QX6800s exist in the world, with 1,200 of them slated for North America. Trays of processors are selling for $1199 per unit and have a few criteria. The 135 W thermal design power (TDP) processor is only being sold to outlets that can properly cool it, and by that Intel means a water cooling system must accompany each QX6800.
There is really only one way Intel can be certain that these special edition processors meet its cooling requirement as well as get into the hands of people who can sell them: that resource is the boutique system builder. This is not an uncommon practice; Nvidia utilized this approach with its launch of GeForce 7900GX2. It ensured that only the most experienced system assemblers were configuring Quad SLI. Not only could technicians with years of experience report issues and devise solutions to problems, but more importantly, high end consumers have the means to purchase $1,200 in hardware.
So where does that leave us today? With three systems designed to thrill. We spoke to several system builders ahead of launch to get some expert implementations of the new quad core processor. Each is different in its approach to building the killer system, but all have a price tag for only those with an overstuffed wallet.