All I can say is, "Thank you AMD!". Now anyone who knows me, or even reads this blog, knows I am an AMD fan for many reasons. This PII X6 CPU is yet another example why I will pick AMD over Intel each and every time.
This CPU is a beast. It provides 6 real 3.2GHz cores with 6x 512KB L2 and 6MB L3 cache all for a TDP of 125 watts and about $700 less than Intel's six-core i7 980x. Why on earth would anyone pay over $1000 for a processor that will have absolutely no discernible performance benefits for most users when they can spend only around $300 and get this amazing CPU from AMD? Perhaps they buy into all the hype, or maybe they are just smoking something that shuts down the part of their brain that controls logic. Though I know there are those who honestly believe the i7 and Phenom II class of CPU are not comparable. Those are the people living in a box under a rock with a giant Intel logo painted on it.
Now most people use their PC for either gaming, media, web, or software/web development. I dare anyone to sit behind two identical PC's and tell the difference in real world performance between and AMD Phenom II and comparable i5 or i7, simply put, with the exception of sheer luck, its not going to happen. That's because the Phenom II line of CPU's performs on par with much more expensive Intel chips. This is especially true when it comes to gaming.
Sure, the i7 980x will beat out the PII X6 in time trials on raw processing applications, but not by any means a huge amount. Defiantly not $700 worth. The i7 980x will also help boost frame rates in games, but no where near anything noticeable without benchmark software when compared to the PII X6. All six core processors have the same problem at the moment. Most games will not use more than 3 cores, and when they do, they will use one core at 100% while the 2nd and 3rd cores will run at about half. This is true for most all games, even the newer ones that are "optimized" for multi-core use. Meaning a quad-core and six-core CPU will be comparable while gaming if their other specs are comparable. So we will not see the real gaming potential of six-core processors for some time yet.
Now being a hardcore gamer, there is no way anyone can sit there and tell me they could tell the difference between the same game running on an Phenom II or Intel based system of comparable specs. This new X6 is no different. Here are some of the items that stick out in my mind.
- The Phenom II X6 costs $300 on Newegg while the comparable Intel chip, the i7 980X, costs over $1000.
- The i7 980X does boast 12MB of L3 but only 6x 256KB L2 where as the PII X6 has 6MB of L3 and 6x 512KB L2. Will that extra 6MB of L3 really make that big of a difference in gaming or real world end user use? No, not for many years yet, but that extra L2 the PII X6 has sure will.
- The PII X6 is clocked at 3.2GHz and the i7 980x at 3.33GHz, so not a big difference there, not even noticeable. The average stable overclock on the i7 980x seems to be about 4.4 to 4.5GHZ. Initial overclocking results on the PII X6 BE put it at 4.5GHz, stable, with proper cooling. So again, no difference. See below for some actual overclocking results.
- The PII X6 processors boast a rather impressive thermal design. At idle, with stock cooling, idle at about 24C and never goes over 43C after hours of Prime 95. With a good heatpipe cooler you can get it idle as low as 15C. If you go liquid cooling, it will run even cooler. This CPU runs very cool, even overclocked, amazing in my book.
- Side by side the PII X6 and i7 980x have NO discernible performance difference when it comes to HD media creation. Such and DVD and Blu-ray transcoding.
- This thing runs very cool thanks to its impressive power management with C1E on the CPU and low TDP. This allows the CPU to throttle up or down each core very rapidly and independently.
The i7 980x is a powerful CPU, there is no debating that, but it's power is no where near it's asking price. Its 32nm vs the PII X6's 45nm in no way makes it worth $700 more than the the PII X6.
For me, since gaming is the primary use of my main system, six-core CPU's really do not offer much over 3 or 4 cores at the moment. So its not like your going to see a huge jump in performance from a quad to a six-core CPU, either i7 or PII X6. Most games do not even take advantage of all the threads available on today's high end CPU's. Mainly because developers try and save money by designing one game for all platforms. So in essence, most newer games are "ports" from one platform to another and were not actually coded with any one platform in mind. Though recently some games, such as Bad Company, Modern Warfare 2, and a few others, are truly console ports to the PC and do not even come close to taking advantage of the power available to them on a PC over a console.
However, that being said, it's not hard to see that AMD's new line of six-core CPU's is going to give Intel a real run for their money. Those of us that have been following this separation between AMD and Intel when it comes to price vs performance, can easily see that this is a fight Intel is not going to win unless they wise up and realize that a vast majority of end users are not going to drop loads of cash for a product that offers no real world benefits over one that offers the same level of performance for a MUCH lower cost.
Closing points and thoughts:
- The i7 980x will give you higher framerates in many games over the PII x6, however the number differences are quite small, and its NOT noticeable without benchmark software running! The PII X6 will still pump out very high stable framerates in any game for a very long time to come. The i7 six core CPU will only beat out the PII X6 in raw numbers that the end user, the gamer, will NOT be able to discern.
- It's going to be a while before we see games and such that will actually take advantage of six core processors. So there is no real need to run out and buy one expecting this huge performance boost. Your simply not going to see that much over a comparable quad core processor with comparable specs. It's going to take time for the software to catch up to the hardware.
- Across the board, there is not a single benchmark that makes the i7 980x worth $700 more than the PII X6, not to me anyway. I will go toe to toe with anyone on an i7 with my PII system in any game and still lay them to waste. Pure and simple. Then again, I am not trying to encode an HD video, compile a 4GB RAR archive, burn a Blu-Ray Disk, and run a dozen instances of my web browser all while playing my games either. While gaming I run Firefox, IRC, X-Fire, Anti-Virus, Firewall, Steam, Everest Ultimate, and my G15 software and my current CPU does not slow any game down one bit with that and about a total of 40 other processes.
Keep them coming AMD! You have a customer for life right here. Intel, I think you need to watch AMD and take notes. All be it an impressive CPU, your i7 980x "Extreme" is far from it. Especially when it can be matched by a CPU that costs $700 less for most users and gamers.
Newegg customer reviews on the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Six-Core CPU
- Model: HDT90ZFBGRBOX
- Socket Type: AM3
- Core: Thuban
- Number of real cores: 6
- Core Stepping: E0
- Stock Operating Frequency: 3.2GHz
- Voltage: 1.25v to 1.40V
- Hyper Transports: Yes @ 4000MHz (bi-directional 2.0GHz 3.0)
- L1 Cache: 768KB per processor (Instruction & Data) - 6x 128KB (64KB + 64KB per core)
- L2 Cache: 3MB (6 x 512KB)
- L3 Cache: 6MB
- Manufacturing: 0.045 micron SOI
- 64 bit support: Yes
- Virtualization Technology Support: Yes
- Integrated Memory Controller: Dual Channel PC3-10667U (DDR3-1333), Dual Channel PC3-8500U (DDR3-1066), Dual Channel PC2-8500U (DDR2-1066)
- Multimedia Instructions: MMX, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4a, Advanced Bit Manipulation, AMD64 technology, AMD-V (virtualization) technology, Enhanced Virus Protection, Dynamic Acceleration technology (Turbo Core technology), AMD CoolCore Technology.
- Thermal Design Power: 125 Watts
- Maximum Temperature: 62C
Inside the box and other video reviews: