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AMD Phenom II X6 1090T And 890FX Platform Review: Hello, Leo

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T And 890FX Platform Review: Hello, Leo
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At $1,000, it’s simply not possible to use the word value when talking about Intel’s Core i7-980X. Yes, it’s nice that the company is serving up an extra two cores at the same premium price point. And yes, we’re glad to see Intel extending the life of its LGA 1366 interface. But currently, your options for six-core CPUs from Intel include the Core i7-980X and Xeon 5600-series chips. Surprise—all of the hexa-core models are priced at a grand or more. Those prices pretty much only make sense for the folks running heavily-threaded apps in a work environment, who stand to save valuable time/money on encode projects.

AMD’s Opteron 2400-series processors also sport six cores, and they’re significantly less expensive (as low as $455 for the 2.2 GHz 2427). The compromise, of course, is that they’re not as fast. Here, you’re paying for the ability to enable a dual-socket machine equipped with twelve total cores. As with the Intel hexa-cores, these CPUs are totally overkill on the desktop.

Meet The Phenom II X6

Enter the Phenom II X6—what I’d consider to be the first viable six-core option for desktop power users.

The Core i7-980X demonstrated the benefits of increased processor parallelization versus Intel’s previous flagship, the Core i7-975. With both chips running at 3.33 GHz, it is easy to see where an extra two cores buys you better performance.

AMD’s new flagship Phenom II X6 is going to show us whether spending extra money on two extra cores is a smart move. After all, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition bears a $185 MSRP, while the Phenom II X6 1090T will go for $295. Does a 50% higher core count translate into a greater than 50% price bump?

I'll be honest. My immediate reaction would be that, no, simply adding two cores (and the corresponding L1/L2 caches that go with them) does not map over to a correspondingly higher price tag. But AMD is trying to sweeten the pot by introducing Turbo CORE technology, which we’ve already previewed. Briefly, Turbo CORE attempts to capitalize on the TDP headroom freed up when three or more cores are idle by dynamically overclocking the remaining three cores. On the Phenom II X6 1090T, Turbo CORE takes a 3.2 GHz CPU and boosts a trio of cores up to 3.6 GHz.

As a result, almost any way you cut it, a six-core Phenom II X6 should be faster than the Phenom II X4. The only exception would be when taxing exactly four threads causes the processor to drop to 3.2 GHz, keeping it from benefiting from the fifth and sixth cores, while operating at a lower clock rate than the 3.4 GHz Phenom II X4 965.

Say Hello To 890FX

That’s not all, either. AMD is also launching a revised version of its discrete-only desktop platform. The 890FX might sound like a spanking-new northbridge, but it’s really quite similar to the 790FX preceding it. You’ll find that the biggest difference is the SB850 southbridge accompanying the updated platform. We’ll dig deeper into that piece of logic shortly. For now, consider it part two of a new three-part platform AMD is calling Leo, successor to the Dragon platform. The third component is a Radeon HD 5800-series graphics card.

First, let’s talk about what it means to add two cores to the Phenom II family.

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  • 29 Hide
    englandr753 , April 27, 2010 4:18 AM
    Being that I have seemed to changed my use of my pc more toward video editing than gaming I am definitely selling off my Q9550 and going with the AMD X6. I still game some but don't care to have the cutting edge video card atm so this is perfect for me. I'm buying from AMD for my next cpu! Way to go AMD! I still have another Q9550 system so don't think I'm an AMD fan boy but I do love it when AMD gives such a great value for such a great product. Everyone should...
  • 24 Hide
    jemlinus , April 27, 2010 4:35 AM
    Great. Six cores for under $200, and I don't have to change my mobo and memory cards. Can't go wrong with that!
  • 20 Hide
    dstln , April 27, 2010 4:38 AM
    Good to hear they're getting back into the performance market and still focusing on value.
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    dwave , April 27, 2010 4:12 AM
    My 4 core Core2Quad @ 2.83 is still working everything great, so I won't be upgrading. Nice to see the price for 6 cores is very reasonable though!
  • 13 Hide
    eugenester , April 27, 2010 4:16 AM
    Finally this article comes out. I've been waiting since the morning for this. Lol but anyway, good read.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , April 27, 2010 4:17 AM
    Got some GTX 480 numbers in there as well txt, and the results weren't much prettier.
  • 29 Hide
    englandr753 , April 27, 2010 4:18 AM
    Being that I have seemed to changed my use of my pc more toward video editing than gaming I am definitely selling off my Q9550 and going with the AMD X6. I still game some but don't care to have the cutting edge video card atm so this is perfect for me. I'm buying from AMD for my next cpu! Way to go AMD! I still have another Q9550 system so don't think I'm an AMD fan boy but I do love it when AMD gives such a great value for such a great product. Everyone should...
  • 19 Hide
    englandr753 , April 27, 2010 4:26 AM
    Is the X6 1090T not oc'able at all? It would seem there should be some headroom for overclock to some degree. Starting out at 3.2g makes me think you should be able to get fairly close to 4.0.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , April 27, 2010 4:31 AM
    englandr753Is the X6 1090T not oc'able at all? It would seem there should be some headroom for overclock to some degree. Starting out at 3.2g makes me think you should be able to get fairly close to 4.0.


    I was able to hit 3.7 with Turbo CORE enabled fairly easily. It might go higher, but I'd argue this probably isn't as much of an overclocking chip as a 965 might be.
  • 24 Hide
    jemlinus , April 27, 2010 4:35 AM
    Great. Six cores for under $200, and I don't have to change my mobo and memory cards. Can't go wrong with that!
  • 1 Hide
    bk420 , April 27, 2010 4:36 AM
    Where can I sign up to buy this thing NOW. It looks good considering the price. 6 cores is better than 4 IMHO.
  • 20 Hide
    dstln , April 27, 2010 4:38 AM
    Good to hear they're getting back into the performance market and still focusing on value.
  • 9 Hide
    deividast , April 27, 2010 4:42 AM
    jemlinusGreat. Six cores for under $200, and I don't have to change my mobo and memory cards. Can't go wrong with that!


    Actually it's under 300$, but still really affordable :)  to bad i'd have to change my mobo and ram for it :)  so i'll stick to my 4 cores for the time being :D 
  • 0 Hide
    englandr753 , April 27, 2010 4:43 AM
    So, my understanding the only ocing you can do is with turbocore? 2 cores or less are working to hit the 3.7? If this is so, this is a little disappointing but as I said for video editing, 6 cores even at 3.2 sounds sweet to me. Thanks for the review and the replies! Nice job!
  • 4 Hide
    pharge , April 27, 2010 4:43 AM
    I remember we did have few articles here talking about what happen when there are multiple programs running at the same time (which I belive is closer to the reality). Will 6-core system look better when there are 2-3 program running at the same time?
    Like playing games while having handbreak and antivirus running at the same time.
  • 20 Hide
    Doltron , April 27, 2010 4:45 AM
    I think you should add Bad Company 2 to the benchmarks. ;) 
  • -7 Hide
    englandr753 , April 27, 2010 4:47 AM
    DoltronI think you should add Bad Company 2 to the benchmarks.


    I can see why you would but do you realize the time this would take to do everyones favorite game? Not a reasonable thing to do...
  • 5 Hide
    jemlinus , April 27, 2010 4:48 AM
    deividastActually it's under 300$, but still really affordable to bad i'd have to change my mobo and ram for it so i'll stick to my 4 cores for the time being

    I was talking about 1055T. ;) 
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