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AMD Athlon II X2 / Phenom II X2 And Low-Power CPU Bonanza

Test Setup And Benchmarks

Never let it be said that we don't take your feedback to heart! Although it means the power and performance numbers in this story won't be comparable to any of our past reviews, enough readers asked to see AMD processors tested on AMD platforms and with AMD graphics cards that we're abiding in this piece. 

Also, because the dual-core CPUs are value-oriented in nature, we're using a Gigabyte motherboard based on AMD's 770 chipset, which sells for about $85 bucks online. In exchange, we're also testing with Intel's DG45ID motherboard, which sells for a bit more, but still amounts to what we consider a fair comparison. You should be able to find inexpensive P45 boards online as well, which would take memory running at up to 1,333 MT/s (thus giving the Intel solutions more bandwidth than what our DDR2-equipped G45 platform can deliver).

Test Hardware
ProcessorsAMD Athlon II X2 250 (Regor) 3.0 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, Power-savings enabled
AMD Phenom II X2 550 (Callisto) 3.1 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
AMD Phenom II X3 705e (Heka) 2.5 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
AMD Phenom II X4 905e (Deneb) 2.5 GHz, Socket AM3, 4 GT/s HyperTransport, 6 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 (Yorkfield-4M) 2.66 GHz, LGA 775, 1,333 MT/s FSB, 4 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
Intel Pentium E6300 (Wolfdale-2M) 2.8 GHz, LGA 775, 1,066 MT/s FSB, 2 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardsGigabyte MA770T-UD3P (Socket AM3) 770/SB710
Intel DG45ID (LGA 775) G45/ICH10R, BIOS 0101
ASRock M3A790GXH/128M (Socket AM3) 790GX/SB750, BIOS 1.10
MemoryCorsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 @ DDR3-1333
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2-1066 5-5-5 @ DDR2-800
Hard DriveWestern Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300 GB 10,000 RPM SATA 3 Gb/s
GraphicsHIS Radeon HD 4890 1 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate Edition x64, Service Pack 1
DirectXDirectX 10
Platform DriverCatalyst 9.5
Intel INF Chipset Update Utility 9.1.0.1012
Graphics DriverCatalyst 9.5

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Phenom II X2 550 BE

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Benchmarks and Settings
3D Games
Stalker: Clear SkyQuality settings set to high, 1920x1200/1680x1050, Benchmark tool, average of all four scenarios
Far Cry 2Quality settings set to high, 1920x1200/1680x1050, latest Steam version, in-game benchmark (Ranch medium).
Left 4 DeadQuality settings set to max, 1920x1200/1680x1050, latest Steam version, timed demo.
H.A.W.X.High Quality Setting, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Ambient Occlusion: High, Patch 1.2
Grand Theft Auto 4Quality settings set to high, Anisotropic filtering: "High," 1920x1200/1680x1050, Patch 1.3, Built-in benchmark.
Audio Encoding
iTunesVersion: 8.1.0.52, Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 (64-bit), Audio CD ""Terminator II" SE, 53 min, wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s
Video Encoding
TMPEG 4.6Version: 4.5.1.254, Import File: "Terminator II" SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-Threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.1Display encoding status=off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Applications
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 (64-bit)Version: 2009, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
WinRAR 3.90 Beta 1Version 3.90 Beta 1, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12, Compression=Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP3CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/MultiMedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark
  • IronRyan21
    Maybe if AMD would actually bring out some kind of nehalem competitor instead of flooding the cheapo market with variations of the same chips all over the place. There was Athlon 64 X2, brisbane and windsor, then there was Kuma, which was a phenom with 2 cores disabled. Now we got these new chips which are phenom 2s with 2 cores disabled. Lets put the money into some R&D and get somewhere. It seems like AMDs lost traction. sad.
    Reply
  • thedipper
    IronRyan21Maybe if AMD would actually bring out some kind of nehalem competitor instead of flooding the cheapo market with variations of the same chips all over the place. There was Athlon 64 X2, brisbane and windsor, then there was Kuma, which was a phenom with 2 cores disabled. Now we got these new chips which are phenom 2s with 2 cores disabled. Lets put the money into some R&D and get somewhere. It seems like AMDs lost traction. sad.
    The low to mid-price segments are the best selling hardware categories.

    Believe it or not, the $100 bang-for-the-buck graphics cards by far outsell the $500 space heater graphics cards. As with graphics cards, $50-100 CPUs by far outsell the $300-1300 CPUs.

    The market that seems like most of the market - the enthusiasts and gamers - is actually not that much of the market share. Businesses building for performance-per-dollar, low-mid performance factory built home PCs, and people building web or media machines... these together outweigh the enthusiast/gamer market.
    Reply
  • jj463rd
    Those Phenom II 905e's and 705e's would be kickass if paired with the upcoming 785g motherboards.
    AMD has some new interesting CPU's.
    Reply
  • @IronRyan: Why not start your own semiconductor company and show AMD how it's done? Can a similar argument not be applied to Intel's "double cheeseburger" quads, and "single patty" dual-cores? If we even get any non-quad i7/i5s, do you know if Intel won't just do the same thing? In the future, instead of coming up with some lame argument, just post this for each article:

    "Hi, my name's IronRyan, and I like Intel. Go team Intel, yay!!!!!"
    Reply
  • deputc26
    Anyone else see the Athlon X2 and think that if they underclocked and undervolted it they'd finally have a legitimate mobile contender?
    If they can run 4 cores at 2.5ghz and 8mb cache on 65w they should be able to run 2 cores at 2.5 ghz and 2mb cache at less than 32.5w.
    Reply
  • rdawise
    Interesting article...I'm glad you put this against the E6300. I haven't seen much about this chip. It as if Intel just snuck on onto the market. I wonder how high of an overclock you can get with it....

    Onto the article, it seems as if the Phenom II x2 550 BE would a great chip in a value gaming rig. If you could unclock the extra cores and get it stable, you'd be one lucky man. Can't wait till see these on the Egg...
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Quickest Pentium, only one with a 1066 MHz bus, disappointing that it's missing some functionality, though.

    Anyone else reminded of GeForce 2 MX when they see how Intel is positioning its mainstream chips these days? I'm all for differentiating with performance to drive down price (even cutting performance-oriented features, like Hyper-Threading), but don't start shedding the actual capabilities of an architecture to handicap it.
    Reply
  • I would find the Phenom X2 550 interesting because many of the programs I still run today are singlethreaded.
    These programs benefit more from a higher clockrate than more cores.

    Keeping this in mind, and the fact that an OS doesn't (spectacularly) boot faster with more cores, I think the X2 is a great buy.
    I'm a bit dissapointed at the powerdraw. For a HDTV box you don't necessarily need to buy a Radeon 4850. Perhaps a lower powerdraw (and price) in the 4770 or 4670 will be better.
    To playback full HD (1080p) I suppose a Radeon HD 2900XT would be enough.
    Add office tasks, internetting, some photoshop, and casual gaming on a 22"monitor (1680x1050 pix), and a Radeon 4670 would be enough in most cases.
    If you have a 24" monitor (1920x1200 pix) a Radeon 4770 would do.
    Only when latest gaming is concerned should you go for a Radeon 4870 or a 4890.
    Reply
  • Gin Fushicho
    Cant...wait...for...AthlonII.
    Reply
  • cangelini
    Pro, for an HTPC, you'd be fine with a 4670, more than likely. The challenge will be building a system able to keep that setup cool enough. The Maui box with the 905e was *near-silent* but a discrete card would have wrecked this, and a 4670 is almost too much card to be passively-cooled (a la Ultimate-style) without better airflow in the case.
    Reply