I know what you're thinking, "A QX9770? What is this guy made of money?" Well, no, I'm not. I just have connections. Now, my father happens to work at Intel and they have something called a "Loaner Program". Every year my dad is eligible to receive a new processor for no charge that for some reason didn't meet binning. I have so far used 3 of the processors, a 3.4 GHz Pentium IV Prescott with HyperThreading, a Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz, and the chip I am using in this current machine, a Q9300 2.5GHz Core 2 Quad. So, what exactly is wrong with these chips? I don't know for sure, but my guess is that they probably needed more voltage to sustain their clocks over the other chips and didn't make the projected TDP.
Now, although it looks like my current rig (which can be seen in my signature around the forum) is pretty new, it has already been a whole year since I built it. I dropped a nice $2500 on this machine so it has a lot of bells and whistles. A lot has changed since I built it, DDR3 no longer costs an arm and a leg, X38/X48 board prices have dropped, you can get 1TB of HDD space for under $100. HD 4870s now come equipped with 1GB of VRAM (wish that was the case when I bought mine), but all things considered my machine is still holding up well.
Then there is this processor, the Q9300, a hard processor to overclock because it has such a low multiplier of only 7.5x. Pretty pathetic right? Then there is the fact that it didn't make binning for whatever reason, so it's gonna be a pain to overclock. I bought the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe for a reason, I needed a motherboard that could really push the FSB. Well, believe it or not, getting this Q9300 to 3.0GHz was really easy. In fact, just changing the FSB to 400MHz and leaving everything on auto kept it stable. However, pushing it past 3.0GHz was the hard part. After minimizing the voltages at 3.0GHz which I was able to do with only a slight bump to Vcore, I begin pushing this processor further. The mark I wanted to hit was 3.33GHz, or a FSB of 444, because at this speed I can set my RAM to its default timing of 1333. Well after lots of reboots, Prime95, Memtest and watching my temps and voltages carefully I finally made it there, but I dare not go any further. My voltage going from 3.00GHz to 3.33GHz went from 1.230v to 1.40v, which is quite the jump for a mere 333MHz. I also have to keep a considerable increase on my northbridge and FSB termination voltage, as well as a ridiculous 2.00v on the CPU PLL voltage. It's stable, and it's temperature stays in the safe range, but it sure was stubborn.
Now, to the thought of a QX9770. 3.2GHz stock sure sounds nice, and because of the huge L2 cache of 12MB vs the Q9300's 6MB cache, this chip stock should be very comparable to my already fast overclocked Q9300. My hopes are to get this chip to 4.00GHz, 400x10 should be easy for my board to handle. I already know I can handle 1.4v, and most reviews have this thing getting to 4.00GHz at around 1.35v, if this will hold true for this QX9770 that for some reason didn't make binnig, well, we'll wait and see.
I will be upgrading the fans on my heatsink, and a couple of my case fans for this new chip. I have confidence the cooler in its current state could very well handle it but a little insurance is always nice. I plan to compliment the native 1600MHz FSB speed with some new DDR3 1600MHz RAM, which I can get 4GB for $80, which is great considering I payed $200 to get 4GB of 1333 a year ago. As for the old Q9300, my dad is going to get a P45 board with DDR3 support to upgrade his already pretty fast 945/E6700/DDR2 machine. I'll be giving him my old 1333MHz DDR3 for that board, since it matches up 1:1 with the Q9300s FSB.
Anyway, that's the plan. I know that once I have a QX9770 in this board it's officially maxed when it comes to processor upgrades. I think I'll hang on to my HD 4870s as long as I can, they are still plenty fast. If I have some extra cash around I may sell them to some friends and maybe go for a DX 11 card, but if not, I'll just save up some money for some new guitar equipment.