I’ve been writing about the “new” Intel for nearly three years now. It’s been so long that I almost forgot what the old Intel was like. It’s not that the old Intel wasn’t competitive performance-wise, it’s that the old Intel wasn’t pleasant to work with. The old Intel was the one that always thought the Pentium 4 was the fastest thing on the planet, even when it wasn’t. The old Intel wasn’t forthcoming with information and acted like it worked in a world where it had no competition. The old Intel wasn’t a very good Intel.

The new one is nothing like that. We get open sharing of information, real discussion about AMD’s strengths and weaknesses and it also helps that we also get the world’s fastest microprocessors with it.

We’ve seen that the new Intel can stand the test of time, at least over the past three years. But can the new Intel last when it’s not always winning reviews? Sure, Intel’s Core i7 remains untouched but what about at cheaper price points? Last month we found out that Intel is quite competitive at the $70 with its Pentium E5300. But between the $70 E5300 and the $280 Core i7-920 there are a few price points where AMD is recommendable.

The question then becomes how does the new Intel deal when it isn’t the fastest on the market?

Surprisingly well it turns out.

This is the Core 2 Quad Q8400:

It’s a quad-core chip running at 2.66GHz with a 2MB L2 per pair of cores (4MB total). It’s like two Pentium Dual Core processors on a single package.

These chips actually have a 6MB L2 but with 2MB disabled either because they have irrecoverable defects in the cache or simply to hit the right price point. In other words, the Q8400 is literally a Q9400 but with 2MB of its L2 disabled.

The Q8400 is Intel’s most recent response to the Phenom II X4 940. Initially AMD priced the 940 similarly to the Q9400. Then, Intel cut prices so that the 940 had to compete with the much faster Q9550. AMD responded, with a price cut that put the 940 on par with the Q9400 again.

Once AMD began shipping Socket-AM3 Phenom IIs, it dropped the prices on its Socket-AM2+ parts once more. This wasn’t so much a price cut but rather a gradual phasing out of the AM2+ CPUs, eventually I expect an AM3-only market since those chips can also work in AM2+ boards.

Rather than take the bait and drop the Q9400 prices once more, Intel instead responded with the introduction of a similarly priced Q8400 at $183.

AMD’s Phenom II X4 940 was generally the same speed if not faster than Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q9400. With less cache, the Q8400 shouldn’t perform any better than the Q9400, so the question is - does it perform any worse?

Then there’s power consumption to worry about and overclocking, but we’ll get to those in due time. Let’s just say that the situation is far more complex than it seemed at first sight.

Core 2 Quad Q9400 vs. Q8400: An Extra $30 buys you 6%
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  • enu73 - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    Oh God so confusing, Please help me, i am planning a gaming PC, what should I choose Intel 9400 or AMD 940,,
    Please please help me
    Reply
  • realpower3288 - Thursday, July 16, 2009 - link

    Hi,

    I was trying to see the benefit of moving to quad core performace on my P35 chipset which is a budget build.. so i went and behold, got a Q8400 for just USD 150.. after some bargaining... threw my OC dual core to the store room..

    when i first power up my PC, i was like hmmm it seems slower during loading boot up... loading of certain apps. Some apps seem faster.

    So i decided to try doing everything at once...installing world in conflict.. stream youtube..chat and work. had 24 inch wide LCd... so multitask is not that painful. Not bad, I could never do this on a dual core, there was no lag in switching apps and its fast..

    To cut the story short, it was slower in loading certain apps and games (modern FPS, strategy). So i decided to OC ... ho ho i easily reach 3.5 Mhz with my recycled artic cooler at 60C max load. I have not even gone to max coverclock speed yet.

    My view on this chip, in its default settings it is just a low speed quad core.. but when you overclock this chip it seems to be nuclear powered... (loaded 2 games and switched side by side to play)....
    Wait is this another chip in disguise???






    Reply
  • v12v12 - Saturday, May 16, 2009 - link

    I don't really care about a few pittance dollars vs Intel. I'm not an intel-zealot. But I can clearly see who actually has a CONSISTENT performance road map Vs a couple 1-hit-wonders and a crappy album with filler chips.

    Intel has proven their roadmap is viable; if all you AMD fanboys want to get socket-locked into a highly ambiguous hardware platform. then be my guest. I'll stick with Intel and wait for the price drop (they have a pattern, proving this) and know for certain that my current hardware will be on an upgradeable path to i7-Core, when their price drops... THEN what answer will AMD provide? It can barely "compete" (see 1-2 chips barely making PAR is NOT "competitive") with the antiquated Core2Duo... Nehalem is at min 20-30% faster and growing with every *tick* & *tock* release.

    Unfortunately I understand the AMD'ers passion and pull for them; I AM pulling for them, as it's better for prices when competition is high. I'm on my old XP-A right now, but I refuse to drink the coolaid. AMD did great to catch up to C2D, but a little late don't you think? Go AMD... but please shop with sense.

    Your AMD box that "competes" now, will soon be a hard to sell item, once it falls even further behind, when Intel decides at a whim to drop prices. Competing on price is a very fickle and unreliable method of securing sales. Compete with superior products and they will sell themselves.
    Reply
  • Hatisherrif - Sunday, May 10, 2009 - link

    Well, if people were smarter then we'd not only have AMD to talk about, but it would be a question if Intel could stay on it's legs. As AnandTech recently mentioned in their Crossfire Phenom II review, the gaming performance on AMD chips is much smoother and fluid. But when "gamers" see a benchmark with Intel above 120 and AMD at 90 they want to go Intel for sure. That is why everyone should read from trusted sources that give personal opinion and experience in games. It is my personal experience also. I have 9800GT with 4GB RAM and Intel E4600, while my friend has 2GB, 9600GT and AMD Athlon 5000+. Every single game lags due to low fps on my rig, while on his, with twice less RAM, goes as fluid as hell. It doesn't even lag on explosions or anything. Besides that, his system is much more stable and fast. But noooooooooooo, ME'Z GONNA BUYZ INTELZ BEKAZ INTELZ MONOPOLZ IZ GUUUD. AND INTELZ HAZ HIGHER FPS! Reply
  • Lolimaster - Saturday, May 09, 2009 - link

    You want to see a true review with real numbers results?

    How about this?
    Q9650 vs PII 940 (Both at 3Ghz)

    video compressión/edition
    audio compresión/edition
    3d render
    image edition
    etc

    http://foro.noticias3d.com/vbulletin/showthread.ph...">http://foro.noticias3d.com/vbulletin/showthread.ph...

    The results?
    On average the Q9650 is 4-5% faster than the 940. Obviously you not find this in "inteltech, your source for hardware-bias analisys and news".

    Now the 940 is way cheaper than the Q9550, that's a deal. Intel need to drop prices, but they don't want to, you think a slowy Q8400 has a good price? You're part of the problem.
    Reply
  • mhahnheuser - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    I have used alternative cpu's for years because although not always up to speed they competed well feature for feature and were simply more price/performance competitive. AMD has spent most of its life performing lower in BM's to Intel. Why this is the biggest news since bread came sliced to the Intel community all of a sudden is a mystery to me. (It's not really, they are hanging on by their fingernails, and clinging to any fact no matter how pathetic).

    Now that there is something that won't run on these cheap flogger Intel cpu's, that won their fine reputations on the refined and outrageously expensive cousins, and.......

    suddenly it's "Houston we have a problem," and we(Anandtech) defend the indefensible, with a bucket load of excuses, or was it that we now have to defend the fact that we relentlessy flogged that technology to consumers without asking enough questions? Now, suddenly, virtulisation doesn't matter. Thank god it wasn't AMD who left it off.

    This is a sad sad article as I think it is deeply misleading. Not only does the article clearly show that the P2 940 is superior in performance, offers the independant core technology found only in Intel's latest processors the i7 & the as yet phantom i5, and offers platform upgrade path to DDR3 memory and has virtulisation included and that, somehow, is concluded that the 8400 is a viable alternative. Get real Anantech! time wake up in the real world.

    The real news in this article was that, to my vast ammusement I might add, the fabeled and much vaunted Q6600 starting to fall behind the X2 in some of the benchmarks. Is this a result of the forward thinking of AMD to go independant core? I wonder.
    Reply
  • skasucks478 - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    DDR2 v DDR3 is no real deal breaker for building a system of now. DDR3 is new (and more expensive for the little performance difference) and very far from being what DDR2 is now to DDR. The joy of new RAM type is that it will be at least 6mo until DDR3 is the "OH HELL YEAH!" RAM.

    Oh, don't look now, but a lot of 775 boards now offer DDR3!
    Reply
  • FalcomPSX - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Maybe i just got lucky, but my phenom II 940 overclocks extremely well. On stock cooling, without bumping the voltage one bit i'm able to hit 3.5ghz, 100% stable while gaming, or stressing the cpu. a bump of 0.05v to 1.40 was all i needed to get 3.6ghz stable, but at that point temps started to get too high for the stock cooler between the increased speed and voltage bump. It ran fine for hours, but i just prefer lower cpu temps(at this point i was seeing 60 C at 100% load) I have no doubt in my mind i could easily get to ~3.8ghz with a aftermarket cooler and a bit more voltage. Unlocked multipliers make it ridiculously easy to overclock these things, and once i hit a wall, i can tune individual cores. Intel can't compete with these features unless you go to their extreme edition $1000+ cpu's. Reply
  • lef - Monday, May 11, 2009 - link

    You are not lucky. Mine also overclocks to 3.4Ghz on stock voltage/cooling at 17x and these guys can only do 3.2ghz ... i haven't even tried 3.5 but since you are able to hit it i will try it Reply
  • TA152H - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Anand,

    Have you ever asked Intel why they don't lower the latency of their processors when they cut the cache size? Why should a processor with two MB cache run at the same latency as one with six MB? Certainly it does not need to.

    I could understand it where they are just cutting off some of the cache because it's faulty, but when they are actually two different dies, with the different cache sizes designed into the chip, why do they artificially slow down the chips with the smaller cache? They should have no trouble lopping off one cycle, since the 4 MB Conroes were 14 instead of 15, and these processors are 2 MB cache per core, so it could allow 13 cycles, but surely can handle 14 easily.

    It's maddening when Intel slows things down for no good reason. It's probably a marketing decision, and we all know how marketing decisions are.
    Reply

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