AMD Phenom II X6 1100T Review: The New Six-Core Flagship

Conclusion: Take It To The Limit One More Time

Yes, the AMD speed bumps are here again. In what has almost become a bi-monthly tradition, we're starting to take the company's increasing clock rates and seemingly-static price tags for granted.

Unfortunately, we can only overclock our Phenom II X6 1100T sample to 4.0 GHz. While this is a respectable speed for a hexa-core CPU, it’s the same ceiling that our older Phenom II X6 1090T would hit. When you consider that the realistic cap for the Phenom II X6 CPU on air cooling is around 4 GHz, and that the Phenom II X6 1100T's Turbo CORE clock is already set to 3.7 GHz, it's pretty apparent that these speed bumps can't go on forever. In fact, we remain convinced that the Sandy Bridge launch will put even more pressure on AMD. What can the company do at that point? It's hard to say.

Having said that, AMD offers plenty of entry-level processors that could be scaled up to run faster at similar prices, if it needed. The Athlon II line is capped much closer to 3 GHz at the moment, and the Phenom II X4 processors have some wiggle room. The Phenom II X6 base clock could certainly be increased on future models, even if it had to leave the Turbo CORE limit in place. But all of these possible outcomes skate the fact that the company's future rides on the success of its Fusion initiative.

But Fusion isn't here yet, so let's concentrate on the here and now: the 3.0 GHz Phenom II X6 1075T is $200 at the time of writing, but it performs better than the Core i5-750 in most applications, and is generally on par with the Core i7-920 in our benchmarking suite. Priced $35 higher, the Phenom II X6 1190T Black Edition sports an unlocked CPU multiplier for overclockers and is just about as likely to hit 4 GHz as the Phenom II X6 1100T flagship. Enthusiasts will likely consider the 1090T about as good as the newer chip priced higher. Finally, $265 gets you AMD's fastest hexa-core desktop CPU $600 below Intel’s entry-level six-core model.

Don’t foget the new Phenom II X2 565 with its 6MB of cache, high 3.4 GHz clock, unlocked multiplier, and (if you’re lucky) the potential for triple- or quad-core operation at $115 dollars. Last but not least, the $87 Athlon II X3 455 promises a speedy 3.3 GHz clock speed and triple-core ability for well under a hundred dollars, making it an interesting starting point for a budget PC with exceptional potential.

Of course, Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 processors aren't slouches, and we would be remiss to ignore the overclocking potential of Intel's more advanced 32 nm manufacturing node compared to the 45 nm process AMD continues to massage. But the attractive AMD price/performance ratio is undeniable: at stock clocks, the Phenom II X6 and Athlon II X3 are solid contenders when it comes to threaded applications and budget computing, respectively.

Fusion and Sandy Bridge might be around the corner, but AMD isn’t waiting for the next generation to deliver value. The Athlon II and Phenom II lines continue to offer very impressive performance for the price. Would we recommend an upgrade today, though, knowing that Sandy Bridge is a couple of weeks away, and the first Brazos-based CPUs are going to be unveiled at CES? If you can, it certainly seems like a better idea to wait. After all, the computing landscape could very well change in less than a month.

  • Mark Heath
    I wish Intel would do something like this for all (or at least most) of their processors.(the speed bumps with same price model)
  • fstrthnu
    A pretty good effort from AMD, but Sandy Bridge is only 2 or 3 months away by now. Of course, this is just a stopgap measure till Bulldozer comes; still, when AMD is only just catching up to Intel in terms of stock performance NOW (even though it has slightly better value)...
  • sideshowbob32
    Great article I just ordered a 1090T for m old am2+ set up, I look forward to it and this article makes me want it more!! Glad to see amd is doing great.
  • tacoslave
    im gonna wait for bulldozer
  • stingstang
    AMD is most certainly not doing great if they have to rerelease all their chips. Here's what happens: They make a batch of chips and sell them all as 4 core processors at X speed. The ones they don't sell or are returned go into stress testing. Those batches are divided in to x2 or x3 piles depending on how stable they are with which cores enabled. The winners of the tests get promoted and branded as new, faster chips with x+100 MHz. The process then repeats.
    Now if you'll look, their third iteration of this process still doesn't match intel's entry-level i7 processors. It's just embarrassing is what that is.
  • Could this be any more unremarkable or unnecessary a product? Might as well grab an i5, or one of the existing X6s, or wait for SB, or Bulldozer... this is just pointless.
  • buzznut
    I'm waiting as well I think. I'd have to upgrade my mobo to run a X6 anyway since Biostar chose not to support it with my current board. I think the 1090T is a great value at $230 though. Pretty sweet.
  • sudeshc
    thats more like it, increase those stock speeds and the we will have more chance to to get even more performance by overclocking :D
  • FunSurfer
    It would be nice to see in the gaming benchmark games that have intensive use of all the CPU's cores like GTA4, BFBC2, RFG (@ large building destruction).
  • dEAne
    With this data Sandy Bridge will not put pressure on AMD it will kill it. I think the only thing left for AMD is to lower the price much further.