Where are we now?
I hope you liked the little trip down memory lane with AMD and how they got where they are today. So, let me tell you a little about where I see them in the current market.
Some of you may not know this, but for a number of years I wrote for a publication called PlanetAMD64 and its sister site, Planetx64. These two sites were all about the x64 movement and in particular about AMD's push to bring this to the market. We had a great relationship with both AMD and Intel. Now, this was an oddity in the market as neither company likes to be publicly associated with what appears to be a fan site. Intel does not want to enter a biased slam fest and AMD does not want to look like they are supporting a potentially biased site.
Still, after we launched the non-brand specific name things changed and we maintained a neutral stance (I and TweakTown still do). However, things seemed to slow down after a review that talked poorly about the AM2 5000+. Things dried up somewhat for me and Planetx64 from AMD. They did not stop completely, but they did dry up. Now, as I am writing this I am staring at a full tray of CPUs from the top to the bottom all begging for attention!
This means that AMD is back in the game and has the budget to sample this quantity of CPUs. It also means something else. It means that they are competitive in terms of market position. True, the Athlon IIs and lower end Phenom IIs are still not a match for Intel's upper end. But they are once again in the price performance column. What this means is that at the same price point (with a few exceptions), you can get a better performing AMD CPU. This lowers your CPU cost and allows you to put money into other components (like a better AMD GPU).
But as we mentioned, this is not always the case. For an example, let's take a look at the X6 1090T. It is a $300 CPU that performs less than 10% better than the Core i5 750 in most tests. The 750 is a $200 CPU. If you are a gamer, that extra $100 gets you a HD 5870 over a HD 5850.
Before you hit the post button on that comment, yes, I am aware that you can also get an Athlon II X4 for significantly less than any of the Intel CPUs and end up with a HD 5970 in your system. But will that improve your gaming performance? Another question is; how will the decision to go with a lower powered CPU affect the rest of your computing experience? Well, that tray of CPUs is here to answer that question. We are going to be diving into it with both the 890FX and the 890GX to see if we can tell you what AMD has from top to bottom for you.
I would like to have some data ready for this article, but sadly I do not. However, we will also throw a few different GPUs into the mix just to see how well each level of CPU can handle the load. We will have the top-end 5970, a stock 5870, an MSI Lightning 5870 and an ASUS DirectCU 5850 all for the taking. We hope that this will settle a few questions we have in our heads about exactly where AMD does fit in the market and if their claims at price/performance leadership hold true.