Farewell Q6600 – Time to usher in a replacement

Farewell Q6600 - Time to usher in a replacement

We have known for some time that Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q6600 was approaching its End of Life. Today we have read reports confirming that the chip will cease to be sold come to the end of Q2 2009. The Q6600 is far and away the most successful quad-core processor of all time. Despite being released more than two years ago, the 2.4GHz processor based on Intel’s now-ancient Kentsfield core has remained the best selling processor on major online retailers like Newegg.com as recently as Christmas 2008.

With the exit of the Q6600, consumers will need to look elsewhere for a processor that represents the same kind of value and performance. The Q6600 offered significant overclocking headroom, considerable performance across all types of applications, and a very low price point – the result of numerous price drops over the course of two years. Additionally, the Q6600 was a strong match for Intel’s P35 and P45 chipsets, which represent the mainstream segment and are generally low-cost motherboards. The final thing the Q6600 had going for it was the LGA775 platform, which enjoyed and still is enjoying a very long and successful tour of duty.

So, the replacement for the Q6600 on the top of the best sellers list will have to overclock well, be relatively cheap, and be based on an affordable platform with a long shelf-life. If the replacement can do away with some of the drawbacks of the Q6600, like the high levels of heat generated by the 65nm part, then that would be an added bonus. While Intel’s more recent quad-core processors might be an attractive option, there is already a replacement for Intel’s LGA 775 socket available, along with another for the lower-end to be launched before the end of the year.

AMD, on the other hand, has several parts that could potentially replace the Q6600 on the top of the charts. The Phenom II X4 940 (945 soon), the Phenom II X3 720 BE, and the Phenom II X4 810 are three processors that exhibit all of the above traits. The AM3 platform (and the AM2+ platform for that matter) will be around for quite some time. The cost of DDR3 is plummeting as we speak and is expected to level with the price of DDR2 before the end of the year. There are already several very capable motherboard offerings on the market with AM3 support, despite it being a very new development. Overclocking is already proven to be superb, with the X3 720 BE reaching speeds close to 4GHz from a stock 2.8.

Not only would these processors be a good choice for those consumers looking for the same sort of value that the Q6600 represented, but it would be great news for AMD should they experience a similar level of success. Only time will tell what replaces the Q6600 as the top-selling processor on the market, but luckily we should be able to find out pretty soon what it will be.

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