Can't stomach the £2,000 sticker of Intel's new eight-core Skulltrail platform? Do not despair - the chip giant has also begun shipping its cheapest 45nm quad-core PC processor yet, the £175 Core 2 Q9300.

For the most part, it's identical to the existing Core 2 Extreme QX9650 and QX9770 45nm quad-core chips. So, it's based on the same immensely efficient and powerful Penryn processor microarchitecture and boasts a 1,333MHz CPU bus.

The key differences involve clockspeed and cache memory. The former is capped at 2.5GHz while the latter has been chopped down to 6MB. In both cases, those remain healthy figures.

Conquering the Q6600

Of course, what enthusiasts will really want to know is how well this chip compares to the Q6600 65nm entry-level quad-core model. In particular, can the new Q9300 match the Q6600's remarkable overclocking prowess, perhaps even better it?

Hop on over to our review for the full skinny. In the mean time, chew on this. At stock frequencies, it's clearly faster than the Q6600. Dip into the BIOS and speeds of well over 3GHz and QX9770-matching performance are possible. Yum yum.

The Q9300 should appear shortly at the usual online retail suspects priced at approximately £175.