It's an exciting day for computer enthusiasts as major review sites from all around the world are rolling out reviews of AMD's new Phenom processors and the firm's Spider platform. At the same time, Intel tries to steal the show with reviews of its Core 2 Extreme QX9770 processor.
The question on everyone's lips: how does the Phenom perform? Unfortunately it's not looking good for AMD. According to the AnandTech review the Phenom processor is clock-for-clock slower than Intel's Core 2 processors. That wouldn't be a problem if AMD could ramp up the clockspeeds to +3GHz but unfortunately the first batch of Phenoms are clocked at only 2.2GHz and 2.3GHz. The performance crown stays in Intel's hands, at least for now.
If you ask AMD, this is platform story; after all, who wouldn't want to combine a Phenom with the 790FX chipset and a pair of Radeon 3850 graphics cards. The problem is that you can pair up 3850s on an Intel chipset just as easily, leaving the biggest benefit to 790FX the ability to run 3 or 4 3850s, which we're not even sure is a good idea yet. There are some auto-overclocking features, but talking about Phenom's overclocking isn't really accenting one of its strong points. The platform sell is a great one to an OEM, but it's simply not compelling enough to the end user - if Phenom were more attractive, things would be different.
Perhaps the Phenom chips will become more competitive next year when some higher clocked models and price drops start rolling in but it's going to be hard as Intel's 45nm processors will soon be available.
The QX9770 is Intel's response to the Phenom. It's not really direct competition though as this new chip costs over $1,000 but this 3.2GHz 1600MHz FSB quad-core chip should be one of the fastest chips you can buy. It's faster than the QX9650 CPU but it also uses up to 40% (!) more power.