9 Jan 2009


I was recently contacted concerning building a high end gaming machine for a company a friend works for. Brilliant I thought, a nice excuse to stress test (who am I kidding, play games on) some high end kit.
And it all started out so promising!


After talking specs we decided upon;
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6950
eVGA 680i SLI A1 rev

1x 150GB WD Raptor4x 1GB Corsair 1066Mhz DDR2
Highpoint R2400 PCI-e Raid Controller
8800 Ultra (main graphics, room for additional in future for SLI when software concerned supports it)
8400 GT (2nd monitor)
Windows XP Pro (32bit – Software requirement)

If only it were all that easy, firstly getting the qx9650 was no mean feat, then getting the bugger to work was damn near impossible.


Installing XP pro on machine results in blue screens and continuous reboots. These would normally happen just after the drive was formatted and files copied from the disk. Just at the point where you begin to setup the installation with you personal preferences.

Work around;

In the BIOS, I was able to disable 2 of the 4 cores of the processor, and reduce the multiplier to 6x.
Early results show stable enough system performance to complete Installation.


To discover the highest CPU frequency with stable performance I started with the x6 multiplier and increased the number of cores enabled. These are the results that I was able to achieve;

Multiplier2 Cores3 Cores4 Cores
x6Yes(Boots to XP)No(Post Only)No(Post Only)
x7Yes(Boots to XP)No(Post Only)No(Post Only)
x8Yes(Boots to XP)No(Post Only)No(Post Only)
x9Yes(Boots to XP)No(Post Only)No(Post Only)

So it will work at stock speed, all be it with only 2 out of the 4 cores enabled.
Somewhat disappointing for a Motherboard which performed so well with the QX9650 engineer samples!
I hope this can help people in some way as reading various forums it has become obvious that there are quite a few people with the same processor and chipset who have made nothing more than an expensive paper weight.
Here’s hoping that a BIOS update will restore the functionality of this processor, as for me, I'm going to have to order a X38 based motherboard for the time being so the machine can be delivered in timely fashion.

*** Update ***

I received an ASUS P5E motherboard based on the x38 chipset and the installation went swimmingly! The machine is now with its owners and from what I understand they're very happy.