Improved Efficiency at 45nm
The AMD 790GX chipset made for an excellent HTPC platform and when paired with a quad-core Phenom processor it was also very powerful. There was however one small issue that involved operating efficiency.
The Phenom X4 processors tend to consume a lot of power, even with CoolnQuiet 2.0 enabled.
For example, when testing the Core i7 processors last month we found that the system using the Core i7 920 used 140 watts at idle and 249 watts under full load. The Phenom X4 9950 on the other hand used 210 watts at idle and 279 watts under load. Making matters worse was the Core 2 Duo E8600, which was not only faster, but used significantly less power. Therefore, operating efficiency is a particular area where everybody is going to be looking into with the new Phenom II X4.
The good news is that AMD has been working hard to improve this. Their new CoolnQuiet 3.0 includes a more efficient 45nm multi-core operation with improved power tuning and additional performance states meant to draw less power, especially at idle.
AMD is claiming that the Phenom II X4 940 will use up to 50% less power at idle, 50% less power under light load, and 40% less power under heavy load when compared to the Phenom X4 9950 that we used in our previous tests. We will try to confirm those claims later on this review.