been a long time coming, but AMD finally has some real competition for the
impressive Intel Core i7 920 processor. With six physical cores, faster
clock speeds and TurboCore to balance out its single threaded performance, the
3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor manages some stellar benchmarking
results, particularly in the areas of content creation and 3D ray tracing.
TurboCore marks AMD's foray into dynamic, load-based CPU
core speed adjustment. It goes a long way to addressing the traditional problems
that multi-core processors have in single and dual-threaded environments, where a
many-core processor generates too much heat to reach the high frequencies that
single and dual-core processors are capable of.
When the first many-core processors came out, users had
to weigh if they wanted good single-threaded performance for day-to-day
applications and games, or good multi-threaded performance in content creation
applications that were capable of taking advantage of extra compute cores.
TurboCore fixes the worst part of this dilemma for AMD. It's able to give around
a 10% boost in performance in situations where up to three cores are under load,
and that's enough to keep the 3.2GHz AMD Phenom II X6 1090T competitive in most
single and dual-threaded benchmarks. Conversely when it comes to applications
that tend to scale in benefit with any number of cores, the six-core AMD Phenom
II X6 1090T can typically best the Core i7 920, even when HyperThreading is
enabled. It's a big step forward for AMD no matter how you look at it.
With a street price of around $280 USD ($280 CDN, £165 GBP) (ie. Newegg), the 3.2/3.6GHz AMD Phenom II X6
1090T processor is a no brainer for anyone looking to build a powerful
content creation system. With six cores rendering in 3D or doing video encoding,
it can easily keep up with anything that Intel has at the same price point. Even
better is that you can pair the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T up with an inexpensive
AMD 890GX-based motherboard and get the exact same performance, instead of
having to buy into a more expensive socket 1366 Core i7 processor, Intel X58 chipset motherboard and triple-channel DDR3 memory.
To borrow a phrase, "it's the platform."
Of course there are still a few issues that come along
with any new architecture...
Most notably power
consumption for the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T is still quite high, especially when
compared against Intel's Core i5 series of processors. Turning on TurboCore
automatically increases the processor's voltage when cores are loaded to ensure
stability, which has the side effect of increasing system power draw.
Fortunately this behaviour can also be turned off using AMD's Overdrive
software, though most users are unlikely to actively take this step. Under
PCSTATS' testing, the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T CPU really didn't require any
voltage increases in order to maintain stability of a 3.6GHz overclock under
load, but as always individual processors may vary.
With the additions of the Radeon HD 5800-series of
videocards, the AMD 890FX and 890GX chipsets and 6-core AMD Phenom II X6 1090T, AMD
now has serious power in its Vision platform. Combining these three parts as the
foundation of a new computer rig will make for an excellent price-to-performance
system, but even on its own the six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1090T processor is a
Taking all this into consideration the bottom line is
this - if you can afford the trappings of an 8-thread Intel Core i7 9-series
computer system, that platform will generally offer the best performance over
all (with caveats here and there for specific benchmarks). If you're on a
tighter budget the 6-core AMD Phenom II X6 1090T built with an AMD 890FX motherboard will provide nearly the same
level of performance with a large side of savings.
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