In one breath Intel dramatically cut pricing on its Core 2 Quads. Intel’s swift response was even faster than NVIDIA’s after the RV770 launch. In the following breath however, Intel introduced new, lower power, and much higher priced Core 2 Quad CPUs. Enter the S-line.

TDP binning is something that AMD has done for quite a while on the desktop. The e-suffix parts (e.g. Phenom X4 9350e) are lower TDP parts, sold at a premium, to those users who need lower power consumption.

The Phenom X4 9350e and the 9150e are both 65W quad-core parts from AMD, while all of Intel’s quad-core CPUs have been 95W. Unwilling to allow AMD any sort of advantage, Intel has finally responded with 65W quad-core offerings of its own. The difference here is that while AMD’s 65W quad-cores are all significantly lower clocked Phenom processors, Intel’s 65W chips are available at up to 2.83GHz.

The Core 2 Quad Q9550S, Q9400S and Q8200S are all 65W TDP quad-core CPUs. They share the same specs as their non-S brethren. The only difference here is that instead of being 95W TDP parts, these CPUs can fit in a 65W thermal envelope.

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache L3 Cache TDP Price
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition 3.20GHz 1MB 8MB 130W $999
Intel Core i7-940 2.93GHz 1MB 8MB 130W $562
Intel Core i7-920 2.66GHz 1MB 8MB 130W $284
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 3.00GHz 12MB - 95W $316
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S 2.83GHz 12MB - 65W $369
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz 12MB - 95W $266
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400S 2.66GHz 6MB - 65W $320
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz 6MB - 95W $213
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 2.50GHz 4MB - 95W $183
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200S 2.33GHz 4MB - 65W $245
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz 4MB - 95W $163


The price premium for these new S-parts is huge. The Q9550S costs $103 more than the non-S, the Q9400S will set you back another $107 and the Q8200S is the most affordable with only an $82 premium. Note that in the case of the Q9550S and Q9400S you're actually more expensive than the entry level Core i7-920.

Intel achieves these lower TDPs by running at a lower core voltage. With a mature enough manufacturing process, which Intel’s 45nm process is, it’s quite possible to produce CPUs that run much cooler than average and on a lower voltage. CPU power varies with the square of the voltage, so any savings in voltage can result in a non-linear decrease in power consumption.

Don’t get too excited however. If you remember back to our review of the 9350e/9150e we found that the decrease in power wasn’t worth the added price. Even Intel has come forward and told us that these are primarily OEM parts and not intended for the high volume enthusiast community. With Intel being honest in its intended purpose for these S-class CPUs we don’t really have to do much to keep them honest, we just need to confirm the findings.

To do this we took a subset of our regular CPU performance tests and looked at performance, power consumption and power efficiency. We measured total system power consumption at the wall outlet, which does admittedly lessen the impact of a lower power CPU but it should give us an idea of the real world benefit of these processors. If you want to see how the Q9550/Q9550S performs across our entire suite of benchmarks take a look at AnandTech bench, our new publicly available benchmark database.

...and in case you’re wondering, no, they don’t overclock any better. Our Q9550S couldn’t get any further than the Q9550 we used in our Phenom II review.

The Test

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 940 (3.0GHz)
AMD Phenom 9950 (2.6GHz)
Intel Core i7-965 (3.2GHz)
Intel Core i7-920 (2.66GHz)
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (3.2GHz/1600MHz)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 (3.00GHz)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S (2.83GHz)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 (2.66GHz)
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 (2.66GHz)
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
MSI DKA790GX Platinum (AMD 790GX)
Chipset: Intel X48
Intel X58
Chipset Drivers: Intel (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: G.Skill DDR2-800 2 x 2GB (4-4-4-12)
G.Skill DDR2-1066 2 x 2GB (5-5-5-15)
Qimonda DDR3-1066 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance
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  • UltraWide - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    why was a normal 95W TDP Q9550 not included???
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    I didn't actually have a 95W Q9550 available (Gary has the one we used in our Phenom II review). I provided the Q9650 and the Q9450 so you can get an idea of where the Q9550 would fall.

    Take care,
  • StraightPipe - Thursday, January 29, 2009 - link

    I've got to agree with UltraWide.
    The news is Intel just came up with the S-line of procs.

    But the test doesnt compare any S to non-S CPUs...

    Isnt that what really matters? the perfomance and power consumption difference between the 95W and the new 65W is what I want to see.

  • anandtech02148 - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    finally nice to see the pick and choose Anandtech bench, need to take it out of beta, save me a trip to tomshardware.
  • Calin - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    Those processors are perfect as replacements in servers already validated for the 95W version of the same processor. While buying i7 would be better, maybe the i7 servers weren't validated (remember the 3 years of support for business-related hardware lines)
  • danchen - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    looking at the numbers, it doesn't look like its worth the extra money.
    Its like buying an "environmentally friendly" car - high initial investment, takes many years to get an ROI.

    perhaps if you're the type who runs your computers 24/7, it may actually save you some bills in the long run.
  • rpsgc - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    Or... you could just undervolt your current CPU. Voilà.

    BTW, what is the default Vcore of these processors?
  • WillR - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    Depends on the model, but I assume you mean the likes of the Q9550. Those are 1.22V."> shows a few.
  • lucassp - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    "the publicly available x264 codec (open source alternative to H.264)"

    firstly x264 is only an encoder, and doesn't have an encoder included. x264 is an Open Source implementation of the H.264 standard. it's not an alternative to it.
  • lucassp - Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - link

    sorry for the mistake, I meant to say it doesn't have a decoder included ;)

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