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AMD Phenom II X4: 45nm Benchmarked

Dragon Platform And Socket AM2+

Compatible And Cost-Efficient: Sockets AM2 And AM2+

When presenting its first Phenom processors next to the Spider platform in November 2007, AMD took great pains to stress their backward compatibility as a selling point. From today’s vantage point, AMD has been true to its promises. The Phenom II will also work in AM2 and AM2+ motherboards, at least as far as the underlying BIOS will allow. For those who want to equip their PCs with a Phenom II, this would ideally require no added costs for a new motherboard or RAM. Various motherboard vendors—most notably, Asus, MSI, and Gigabyte—have already published compatibility lists, and use them to provide information about which of their motherboards will work with the Phenom II, and which BIOS versions are needed for each.

New Platforms: From Spider Comes Dragon

AMD launched the first-generation Phenom in tandem with its Spider platform. In order to use the Spider logo in labeling and system branding, vendors were required to include a graphics card from the Radeon HD 3800-series, a motherboard with a 700-series chipset, and of course, a Phenom processor.

AMD introduced its new Dragon platform with the Phenom II processor. As the graphic to the left illustrates, this branding program requires a 4800-series graphics card, a motherboard with an AMD 790-series chipset, and a Phenom II processor to qualify. Note that the required platform could include a mid-range board based on 790GX or a higher-end motherboard armed with 790FX. We've tested both, and appreciate that the790FX/SB750 combination is being given a new lease on life.

With the old Spider combination, a favorite chipset series anchored the program; because the Phenom II can be used in a Socket AM2 motherboard rig, we can only presume that AMD wanted to prevent Dragon branding on systems with older motherboards or chipsets--remember, AM2+ enables faster HyperTransport speeds and a dual-power plane. Only the inclusion of all three of these components is sufficient to permit a vendor to brand its offerings as Dragon-compatible.

ComponentsSpider PlatformDragon Platform
CPUAMD PhenomAMD Phenom II
ChipsetAMD 7xx SeriesAMD 790-series
Graphic CardsRadeon HD 3000-seriesRadeon HD 4000-series
  • one-shot
    YAY!, The day has come! Haven't read it yet. I am excited to see what it brings!
    Reply
  • firedogevan
    why focus on the q6600... wouldn't the q9550 or 9650 be a more accurate comparison given their respective locations in the product lineup?
    Reply
  • dechy
    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.
    Reply
  • one-shot
    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.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Coming up soon one-shot--I was working on that one =)
    Reply
  • V3NOM
    who cares about performance/watt? PRICE/PERFORMANCE is the big deal
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • nashville
    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?
    Reply
  • kirvinb
    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..
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    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%)?
    Reply