AMD has had a rocky start to its latest architectural update. K10 has had its major downs, suffering he TLB bug in the B1 and B2 stepping cores. When they were first introduced to market, they were the plague CPU; as in, every one avoided them like the plague! - It took many months for AMD to write this problem out, but B3 promised a fix and eventually delivered.
While fixing the problem, they couldn't fix the slow clock speeds that the Phenom suffers on the 65nm process. And with 45nm still some time away for AMD, the clock speed wall of 2.8GHz is limiting AMD from getting any real performance from K10.
To that end, AMD has moved more of their focus toward power savings, giving users a better overall PC with lower power requirements. Phenom X4 managed to give quite a good amount of performance for the price, and its power usage is extremely impressive.
Today on hand, we have the newest member of the X4 family; the 9350e. This CPU is a quad core offering with 2GHz core clock. It's designed for a power efficient quad core system. Let's take a look and see how it compares to the X3 and the Athlon 4850e.
The New Recruit
The new Phenom on the block
We have already covered the ins and outs of the K10 architecture in the past, so we won't go into that this time. If you want to know more about it, please visit our B3 stepping review.
AMD, for the most part really hasn't thought a great deal about the Phenom line of processors. While recycling is good (X3), it escapes us as to where exactly the 9350e is supposed to fit in? - Being a quad core part does have its advantages on paper of having four simultaneous thread executions, but we haven't really seen too many applications to date taking full advantage of this. Next is the clock speed; at 2GHz, it's not going to be the fastest thing on the market. Lastly, we have the price, which we hoped would be its savior coming into the market. However, it costs more than the most powerful X3 processor which is clocked in at 2.4GHz.
While it's beyond us, AMD really has big plans in energy efficient computing. This is where the X4 9350 fits into the picture; part of the same line that the Athlon 4850e we tested fits into as well.
Due to the nature of AMD's architectural design, there is little that can be added to an AM2+ CPU apart from instructions or die shrinks. No new memory changes can be made due to the on-die nature of the memory controller.
While clocked quite low from factory, we decided to see just how far we could push the CPU with our ASUS M3A32-MVP 790FX motherboard. We managed to get the CPU from 2.0GHz to a max of 2.38GHz by increasing the CPU VID up two steps on our board to just over 1.25V.
Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the motherboard. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking, or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.
Test System Setup and Everest
Motherboard: ASUS M3A32-MVP (Supplied by AMD)
Hard Disk: 500GB Western Digital SE16 (Supplied by Western Digital)
Graphics Card: GIGABYTE 9800GX2 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Cooling: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista SP1
Drivers: Intel INF 220.127.116.118, Forceware 175.16
Today's tests will be conducted on our ASUS M3A32-MVP motherboard which uses the 790FX chipset. We will be comparing the X3 8750 and the Athlon 4850e CPUs directly with the 9350e just to see who has the better option.
We did test at both stock and overclocked speeds with the X3 running 2.6GHz, the 9350e at 2.38GHz and 4850e at just over 2.8GHz.
EVEREST Ultimate Edition
Version and / or Patch Used: 2006
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Buy It Here
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems.
First off, it's into memory. The X4 and X3 both score the same at stock speeds due to the same NB/memory divider ratio.
The 4850e falls behind due to the older K8 architecture memory controller. At overclocked speeds the 9350e has a higher FSB so it manages a slightly higher bandwidth in the write test, though this is only noticed in the write test.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage
Version and / or Patch Used: 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
Moving into PCMark Vantage, we see that the Phenom X3 manages to outscore the 9350e in overall results despite losing a core. The 4850e is also left behind both setups here.
Benchmarks - SYSmark 2007 Preview
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04
Developer Homepage: http://www.bapco.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.bapco.com/products/sysmark2007preview/>
SYSmark 2007 Preview is the latest version of the premier performance metric that measures and compares PC performance based on real world applications.
SYSmark 2007 Preview extends the SYSmark family, which has been widely accepted by IT Managers, PC OEMs, press and analysts worldwide to support Windows Vista.
SYSmark 2007 Preview allows users to directly compare platforms based on Windows Vista to those based on Windows XP Professional and Home.
The new release also incorporates numerous new features and enhancements such as an improved GUI allowing streamlined start-up and run along with a heads-up-display (HUD) and automated error reporting.
SYSmark 2007 Preview is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications.
Again we see the Phenom X3 being able to keep ahead of the 9350e, despite having one less core on tap.
Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere Elements 4
Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.adobe.com
Product Homepage: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/
Buy It Here
Our test with Adobe Premiere Elements 4.0 is performed with a raw two hour AVI file. It is then compressed into DivX format using the latest version codec. We measure the time it takes to encode
Moving into Premiere Elements, we see that the extra cores on the Phenom X4 help here. But as we've seen previously, the X3 is able to do a pretty good job of keeping up despite the loss of a core.
Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage
Version and / or Patch Used: 101
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.
3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Last on the synthetic tests is 3DMark Vantage and this is where the X3 manages to get a bit of a lead due to its higher clock speeds. It seems that more than two cores here is really just a waste.
Benchmarks - Crysis
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here
From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.
Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.
Moving into real world gaming, the X3 8750 manages to just hold out the 9350e on pure performance.
We are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into an AC wall socket).
The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD-ROM or many cooling fans.
So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Here is where the 9350e manages to gain some ground. While having four cores, it managed to score in just under the 8750 and was almost able to equal the 4850e's power usage results.
AMD's Phenom processor range is by no means a huge leap forward for the company; certainly not like they were hoping it would be. While it does add a few new features, its architecture is still based directly on the K8 with a few tweaks. This is what brought Intel down trying to salvage Netburst and we saw what happened there. AMD is following a similar path; K8 has run its course and it's now time to put it to bed, fellows.
On the upside, Phenom does give end users the option of having a multi-tasking environment without having to spend a fortune. AMD's top Phenom X4 processor comes in very cheap, making it an attractive option for a mainstream PC. And it even allows for a cheaper SLI setup than an Intel based system. Though, if you're going for SLI, you're seeking power and performance. This is where Intel comes into play.
The Phenom 9350e really left us wondering why it's around. If its intention is to replace the 4850e processor, why was that one even brought into the market? Considering the price of the 9350e compared to the 8750 X3, I know which one I would rather have and that's the higher clocked X3 processor which is able to do more gaming than the 9350e.
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