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The Phenom II X6 is an interesting proposition as it's meant to provide heavy multi-tasking performance on a budget.
Starting with the Phenom II X6 1090T, this processor can be matched to the Core i7 930 processor as they are both priced around the $300 mark. Unfortunately for the Phenom, the Core i7 930 processor was faster in most of our real-world tests. The Intel CPU dominated in all of our application benchmarks and was much faster in all of our gaming benchmarks. Games such as Company of Heroes and Resident Evil 5 heavily favored the Core i7 930 processor.
When it came to our encoding tests, the Phenom II X6 1090T fared a lot better, especially when testing with HandBrake. Nevertheless, for intensive 3D work, video encoding, or Excel modeling it seems as though the hyper-threading support of the Core i7 930 processor gets it over the line compared to the higher clocked Phenom II X6 1090T. The only tangible advantage the Phenom II X6 1090T has over the Core i7 930 is the lower power consumption both at idle and when under full load.
Moving down a notch, we have a similar situation between the Phenom II X6 1055T and Core i5 750 processors. Although the Core i5 750 doesn't support hyper-threading, it still performed very well and held its own against AMD's hexa-core that will retail for $20 more.
The Phenom II X6 1055T was faster when testing with HandBrake, delivered the same level of performance in the x264 benchmark, and was considerably slower when testing with TMPGEnc 4.0 Xpress. Then when looking at application and gaming performance, more often than not the Core i5 750 was considerably faster when compared to the Phenom II X6 1055T.
Further examining these results, we observe that on a majority of tests the hexa-core processors face a lack of support for multi-threading. Microsoft Excel is one program that is able to max out six-cores, but the problem here is that Intel processors are simply much faster. HandBrake is another real-world application that can fully utilize six-cores and AMD did have some success in this case.
Although we tested a limited number of games there is no denying that few games fully utilize quad-core processors, let alone hexa-cores, though this is slowly changing. Resident Evil 5 is one title that is able to stress multiple cores, but the Phenom II X6 processors were still slower than the Core i5 750.
The positive aspects of the new Phenom II X6 processors are their power consumption levels, overclocking abilities, and platform compatibility. The fact that someone who purchased his motherboard up to four years ago can spend a little over $200 and receive a six-core processor with no other necessary upgrades is quite amazing. It should be noted that we don't expect performance to be much different than what we have shown here today if you are using the AM2 platform.
The new Phenom II X6 models appear to be more overclocking friendly than its X4 counterparts as we easily achieved a stable 4.02GHz overclock. With limited time to play around with the Phenom II X6 1090T, we were happy with the 4.02GHz result and found that it provided substantial performance gains.
Along with the new Phenom II X6 1090T and 1055T processors, we also have the new AMD 890FX chipset, though this is a far less exciting release. Like the 890GX, the 890FX is really no different from its predecessor, the 790FX. Rather it is the south bridge chip that brings the most significant changes such as support for the latest SATA standard.
For now we are eager to see if AMD adjusts pricing of the Phenom II X6 1090T and 1055T processors at all to try and make them even more competitive. As things currently stand, at those price levels AMD should have no reason to modify its pricing strategy for existing AMD quad-core processors. Finally, talk of an upcoming quad-core version rumored to be the Phenom II X4 960T could open the door for a more affordable processor that like current X2 and X3 Phenoms has unlockable cores.