If we were to summarize the test results generated for this performance preview in a few pithy words they would be: memory bandwidth. One of the key advantages AMD’s Athlon™ 64s enjoyed over Intel’s processors was an integrated, on-die memory controller that enabled much higher amounts of bandwidth to the processor. It’s unfortunate that the X38 isn’t a more mature platform with better DDR2 performance and that we weren’t able to run our memory at higher speeds. Temporarily setting the OCZ Reaper memory to 1066 speeds saw much better performance gains in many tested applications for the QX9650 at stock speed than overclocking the CPU by ten percent; and likewise for the QX9770 and its faster FSB. Intel’s forthcoming Nehalem architecture, as mentioned in our QX9650 review, is designed with an integrated memory controller with scalable channels that support DDR3 memory, finally retiring the aging front-side bus when it arrives.
We’ll revisit Yorkfield performance in general once the X48 chipset launches, which is rumored to have better DDR2 performance than the X38. In the meantime, the QX9770 outperformed the QX9650 at stock speed by any real degree in only a few games at low settings, though, again, the X38 isn’t the most mature of platforms at this point in time and from our test results it’s rather obvious that the processors were hindered from reaching higher numbers. We look forward early next year to more mainstream priced Penryn processors, particularly with boutique parts like the QX9770 getting set above already exorbitantly expensive Extreme pricing.
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