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AMD Phenom II X4 review overview

Posted on Thursday, January 08 2009 @ 15:15:56 CET by

Dozens of tech sites from all over the world have published their review of the new quad-core AMD Phenom II processors a couple of hours ago. Lets take a look at some of the reviews to see how the new Phenom chip lines up against Intel's offerings.

First up is the review from Tech Report, they conclude the new Phenom II chips come strikingly close to duplicating the performance offered by Intel's mid-range Core 2 Quad processors, the Q9300 and Q9400. However, the reviewer does note that AMD can still not match the fastest Core 2 Quads clock-for-clock, and obviously, it's no match for the newer, but more expensive Core i7.
The Phenom II proved to be faster in several of our gaming tests, but it was slower in some components of WorldBench, including WinZip and Photoshop, which lowered its overall score a bit. On the whole, though, the key characteristic we saw through the bulk of our performance tests was the remarkable parity between the Phenom II X4 940 and the Core 2 Quad Q9400—and the same between their siblings one notch down the ladder. The idle power use of our Phenom II X4 940 system was a couple of watts lower than its Core 2 Quad-based adversary, although it did draw 24W more under load, which was the Phenom II's one definitive disadvantage in this comparison. The Phenom II may even be able to rival the Core 2 Quad's vaunted overclocking headroom—and it's hard to argue with the ease of overclocking a Black Edition processor with a simple multiplier tweak.
Next is the review from AnandTech, they conclude this chip is what the original Phenom should have been. Anand says the Phenom II X4 940 is a better pick than the Core 2 Quad Q9400, but reckons Intel could easily mitigate AMD with some price adjustments:
Despite Intel's strengths, AMD was able to do very well here today with Phenom II. Being able to have a CPU competitive with Penryn right out of the gates is worthy of a commendation. The scary part is that Intel could easily mitigate AMD's gains here with some simple price adjustments. Even more worrisome for AMD is that Phenom II is its only foot forward until 2011 when the first Bulldozer based CPUs arrive. There's headroom in AMD's 45nm process, but what happens when Core i7 goes mainstream? We must not forget that Phenom II is competitive with a 45nm derivative of a 2+ year old architecture.

If you have a Socket-AM2+ motherboard with BIOS support for Phenom II there's no question - Phenom II is the best upgrade path for you. If you are trying to build a new system from scratch, I'd suggest waiting for either the Socket-AM3 CPUs or see what Intel does with its pricing later this month.
Last but not least, we take a look at what Bit Tech has to say about the Phenom II X4 940 and 920 processors. The reporter says the Phenom X4s offer good value, the chips can't compete with Intel's old Core 2 Quad processors in a clock to clock comparison, but they are very cost competitive.
We're not even comparing the Phenom IIs to Core i7s simply because Intel's latest architecture is not only leagues ahead, the barriers to entry are massive: motherboards cost up to twice as much and memory can cost three or four times more, so even a $284 Core i7 920 platform is much greater investment.

In a clock to clock advancement, the Phenom IIs are a pretty solid four or five percent faster than the original Phenoms throughout many of our tests and it's mostly the greater core clock that has won favour for the AMD CPUs. After all these benchmarks, despite complaining about the initial memory performance drop, we understand why AMD decided to drop the clocks back a bit - given the available thermal overhead it was better to have faster core clocks.



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