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Test Hardware Details

AMD Phenom II X4: 45nm Benchmarked
By , Frank Voelkel

Test Systems 

Here are both of our test systems, for the AMD and Intel platforms.


Motherboards

The components we used for our recent CPU charts were completely updated to the latest and greatest. For our AMD processors we used an Asus motherboard with an AMD 790FX, and for the Intel CPUs, a Gigabyte X48 motherboard.

System RAM

We used DDR2-1066 modules from A.Data for all of our AMD processor testing, with timings set to CL 4.0-4-4-12. On the Intel platforms, we used DDR3-1333 with timings set to CL 7.0-7-7-21. Depending on how we clocked the processor, we used tighter timings on the RAM, as specified by the vendor.

Graphics Cards

To keep the game benchmarks focused on the processor contribution, we used the same high-performance MSI N280GTX-T2D1G-OC for all of our builds; it includes the Nvidia G200 graphics chip.

Hard disks and USB Flash Drive

Our test systems include two 320 GB Western Digital hard disks. These WD32000AAKS drives incorporate only a single platter in the drive, which keeps their power consumption and cooling needs to a minimum. We loaded our Linux systems from a Corsair Flash Voyager USB stick, but our Linux Parcourser Benchmark doesn’t work on Nehalem systems, so we had to forgo the Linux results in these benchmarks.

Blu-Ray Optical Drive and Sound Card

For our Blu-ray benchmark we used the Pioneer BDC-202BK optical drive. To keep the playback benchmarks across platforms as similar as possible during CPU load testing, we used a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer soundcard on all platforms. It includes its own built-in audio processor to offload the CPU as much as possible during such tests.

Power Supply and CPU Cooler

To supply our test systems with ample, reliable power, we used an 850 Watt PSU from CoolerMaster. We cooled our AMD and Intel processors with Zalman’s CNPS 9700 LED cooler.

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    Cuddles , January 8, 2009 7:57 AM
    "Who will buy it?"
    I have two AM2+ MB Computers. In about 6 to 9 months I'll upgrade them with the most current CPU and call it good for the next 3 years. This will allow me to concentrate on Graphics Cards. Which means that for at least the next few years I won't have to worry about upgrading and when I do I could just buy a AM3 MB and make the transition one step at a time. Intel does have the better CPU's but you do pay for it and you have to pay for it all at once. I am looking at making an Intel HTPC/Home Automation/Gaming Computer and I'll probably use a DFI MB. Intel isn't a very nice to the middle class tech company while I would say AMD is. You spend more on Intel and you spend it all at once while with AMD you spend less and it's over a period of time. With Intel you start off super strong and over a period of time you grow weaker then you replace everything. With AMD you stay average and you upgrade to stay current.
    If I had the cash I would go Intel but I don't and thus AMD fits that bill. I can stay current with the times, at all times, and it never costs me more than a couple hundred a year. Still, once in a while I really get that hunger for an Intel chip but alas I have four other mouths to feed.
  • 20 Hide
    kirvinb , January 8, 2009 5:10 AM
    I'm so happy to see Intel has some competetion. While these new processors are not mind blowing, they offer some decent performance at the price given. I am sure this will lower the price of the q9400 and q9550, which is exactly what I want to see. Maybe even the i7s price will lower and maybe we will be back in the good days..where intel and amd flipped sides of the powerhouse like every 6 months..!! Good Write Up..
  • 20 Hide
    V3NOM , January 8, 2009 4:14 AM
    who cares about performance/watt? PRICE/PERFORMANCE is the big deal
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    firedogevan , January 8, 2009 3:29 AM
    why focus on the q6600... wouldn't the q9550 or 9650 be a more accurate comparison given their respective locations in the product lineup?
  • 16 Hide
    dechy , January 8, 2009 3:40 AM
    Yeah, the price comparison table should of included a Q9550, which costs same as i7 920 but with the lower mobo/ram combo price.

    Ends up being the same price as the AMD bundle, but with a good more performance... there goes the whole "AMD price/performance" aspect of this chip.
  • 7 Hide
    one-shot , January 8, 2009 3:41 AM
    Great review. Maybe some overclocking later? There were some pretty high claims about its overclocking potential. I'll wait for AM3 before I retire my E6750.
  • 7 Hide
    cangelini , January 8, 2009 3:59 AM
    Coming up soon one-shot--I was working on that one =)
  • 20 Hide
    V3NOM , January 8, 2009 4:14 AM
    who cares about performance/watt? PRICE/PERFORMANCE is the big deal
  • -5 Hide
    Anonymous , January 8, 2009 4:30 AM
    The Q9xxx series would trump the PhenomII in all the categories listed above. THG, it was downright *criminal* to have not included the Yorkfield chips in your performance per dollar and performance per watt analysis.
  • 1 Hide
    nashville , January 8, 2009 4:33 AM
    hey bert/tom's:
    good write up: thought id comment on i7 watts:
    "we measured the power consumption directly from the 12 volt rail that supplied the CPU", i read somewhere the only i7 core logic gets power from 12v rail, the uncore/cache part somewhere else. if this is true, you going to do another measurements?
  • 20 Hide
    kirvinb , January 8, 2009 5:10 AM
    I'm so happy to see Intel has some competetion. While these new processors are not mind blowing, they offer some decent performance at the price given. I am sure this will lower the price of the q9400 and q9550, which is exactly what I want to see. Maybe even the i7s price will lower and maybe we will be back in the good days..where intel and amd flipped sides of the powerhouse like every 6 months..!! Good Write Up..
  • 2 Hide
    jj463rd , January 8, 2009 5:21 AM
    On the forums someone mentioned "why did they use DDR2-800 RAM when DDR2-1066 would give better performance for the Phenom II".Wouldn't this skew the benchmarks by a little bit (perhaps 2 to 3%)?
  • 13 Hide
    tomc100 , January 8, 2009 5:39 AM
    I'm glad AMD has provided some competition to Intel. Lack of thereof would result in Intel price gouging customers just like Nvidia did last year.
  • 3 Hide
    kirvinb , January 8, 2009 5:50 AM
    oh god!! tell me about it!!! the 8880 Ultra was like 800 even 1000 bucks online!! What the hell!! that was ridiculous!! The 4870x2 is the fastest card on the planet(currently released) and you kind find it for less than 500..! 2007 was a bad year indeed
  • 3 Hide
    that_aznpride101 , January 8, 2009 6:05 AM
    i think this confirms this is what my next upgrade will be. can't wait for the AM3 platform. =)
  • 16 Hide
    xx12amanxx , January 8, 2009 6:16 AM
    Time to ditch the ole x2 6000+ Phenom 2 here i come!
  • 8 Hide
    ravenware , January 8, 2009 6:26 AM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103471

    newegg is listing $US 275.

    Based on on the performance numbers here and the overclocking benches from firing squad this release looks to be very promising for AMD.

    Can't wait to see how well the AM3 platform performs especially if you can use an integrated 48xx chip in xFire mode.
  • 10 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 8, 2009 6:59 AM
    the conclusion is a bit rushed.
    how come it became a recommended buy, who will but it?

    i see it a recommended buy for those who have am2 boards wanting core2quad like performance especially those like me which have an athlon x2 processor now.
    anyways, if i will build a box soon based on amd,
    i have to say wait for am3 boards.

    nice addition of nero recode8 but it favors intel procs. now i know why my single core intel celeron m laptop works well in recode 8.
  • 4 Hide
    BartG , January 8, 2009 7:26 AM
    mmm, was it wrong to expect a bit more?
    Even thought the intel costs more, the performance is also better... all in all, I would think only AMD folks are slipping of there chairs but not many Intel fans will change brands.

    Me, im sticking to wanting to get a X58 board when the hype is gone and the prices drop...

    Nice effort AMD, keep it up so we get even stronger competition!
  • -4 Hide
    PCfreak15 , January 8, 2009 7:34 AM
    WOW, AMD finally has a cpu that can compete with my Q6700 box, too bad that processor is almost two years old now. Pat on the back to the guys in green.
  • 3 Hide
    ahslan , January 8, 2009 7:35 AM
    well i wonder how long my x2 6000+ is gonna last now...now imma be tempted to just stick a new Phenom II into my rig...but i think Ill wait till prices drop a lil...
  • 31 Hide
    Cuddles , January 8, 2009 7:57 AM
    "Who will buy it?"
    I have two AM2+ MB Computers. In about 6 to 9 months I'll upgrade them with the most current CPU and call it good for the next 3 years. This will allow me to concentrate on Graphics Cards. Which means that for at least the next few years I won't have to worry about upgrading and when I do I could just buy a AM3 MB and make the transition one step at a time. Intel does have the better CPU's but you do pay for it and you have to pay for it all at once. I am looking at making an Intel HTPC/Home Automation/Gaming Computer and I'll probably use a DFI MB. Intel isn't a very nice to the middle class tech company while I would say AMD is. You spend more on Intel and you spend it all at once while with AMD you spend less and it's over a period of time. With Intel you start off super strong and over a period of time you grow weaker then you replace everything. With AMD you stay average and you upgrade to stay current.
    If I had the cash I would go Intel but I don't and thus AMD fits that bill. I can stay current with the times, at all times, and it never costs me more than a couple hundred a year. Still, once in a while I really get that hunger for an Intel chip but alas I have four other mouths to feed.
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