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.

Spider Platform
Dragon Platform
AMD PhenomAMD Phenom II
AMD 7xx SeriesAMD 790-series
Graphic CardsRadeon HD 3000-seriesRadeon HD 4000-series  
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  • one-shot
    YAY!, The day has come! Haven't read it yet. I am excited to see what it brings!
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • cangelini
    Coming up soon one-shot--I was working on that one =)
  • V3NOM
    who cares about performance/watt? PRICE/PERFORMANCE is the big deal
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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..
  • 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%)?
  • tomc100
    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.
  • kirvinb
    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
  • that_aznpride101
    i think this confirms this is what my next upgrade will be. can't wait for the AM3 platform. =)
  • xx12amanxx
    Time to ditch the ole x2 6000+ Phenom 2 here i come!
  • ravenware

    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.
  • zodiacfml
    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.
  • BartG
    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!
  • PCfreak15
    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.
  • ahslan
    well i wonder how long my x2 6000+ is gonna last imma be tempted to just stick a new Phenom II into my rig...but i think Ill wait till prices drop a lil...
  • Cuddles
    "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.
  • I'd really like to see FSX being one of the benchmarks used for these processor tests. Considering how CPU intensive it is, and the gains achievedby the latest I7 processors, it can lead to some really good insight.
  • apache_lives
    OMG! AMD Caught Up with MY almost 2 year old Q6600! Wow the 6 series feels old now..... Thank god i got it clocked to 3.5ghz LOL!

    Now all AMD has to do is release a Phenom III to take on Intels Q9xxx series and then a Phentium IV for the i7 :P

    Wont MalcolmK be happy about his upgrade path haha

    High five PCfreak15, dont worry about that negative vote LOL
  • apache_lives
    I wonder how it would compare to an i7 with only dual channel DDR3-1066 and no HT - see how the cores compare.
  • srgess
    Maybe this processor doesn't consume energy but some people don't give a """" here. The 940 look like the same price range as the q6600. But the thing is that in the benchmark the q6600 was stock and what about the q6600 was O/c to 3ghz. I think the q6600 would dominate those new processor wich is the q6600 was out couple years already. I don't think so people with already intel board will change for amd. I am sure that Intel will cut their price to let no chance to amd to get a place. But amd starting to catch up, maybe in 3 years they will have something good.