We first reviewed a 45nm Intel processor back in September, and since then, the CPU maker has been ramping up production and slowly transitioning to 45nm chips across its product lines. Two of the final steps along Intel's path to 45nm ubiquity are of great interest to PC enthusiasts: budget dual- and quad-core processors. We like budget processors for obvious reasons--they're cheap, like us--and not-so-obvious ones--they tend to have the most overclocking headroom. We especially like the idea of budget 45nm Core 2 processors for yet another reason: they promise to combine a potent punch with modest power draw.
We have two of these chips on the bench today, and they're just now becoming widely available. The Core 2 Quad Q9300 is Intel's most affordable quad-core processor, and it promises to supplant a long-time favorite of ours, the Core 2 Quad Q6600, by offering additional goodness at the exact same price. The Core 2 Duo E7200, meanwhile, is Intel's cheapest 45nm dual-core CPU and a potential goldmine of overclocking potential. As is our dubious custom, we've tested these two processors against a whole slew of would-be competitors and wholly inappropriate alternative options.