AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE processor tested -
11 - The Verdict
Alright, let me start off with the pricing, the processor as tested today will cost you roughly 170 USD in e-tail at this very moment. Guys, for a quad-core processor that's just extremely good value. In most scenarios this processor is definitely faster compared to a Core 2 Quad Q6600, and Intel knows it as they recently adapted their pricing strategy to match this product. Intel however already moved on towards the Penryn based quad-cores, and though we still need to test it, the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Quad Core Processor is likely a better match to this processor, yet sells for ~ 250 USD. So value wise... this processor wins.
The trick with this processor is that you really should give it the mainboard it deserves, and that would be a mainboard based on the AMD 790GX chipset. These mainboards can deal with the power requirements of this processor... and much more. We have to mention the power consumption of the processor as well though, as that's a bit of a negative with the Phenom X4 9950. The TDP (maximum wattage) is set at 140 Watts, meaning if you fully stress the four logical cores of this processor, they'll consume roughly 140 Watts. And admittedly... it's quite a lot. Overclocked things get worse though, just a mainboard + VGA in idle and then stressing 4 cores 100% resulted in a power draw of roughly 300 Watt (total PC) in total when we clocked it towards 3.2 GHz.
Mentioning overclocking, the new combo definitely shows off the fruits of your labor. We increased the clock frequency by 600 MHz fairly easily, based on a reference air 15 USD Akasa cooler. When you have your variables right, like cooling, stable power supply and a nice 790GX mainboard, the sky is the limit. Overclocking has improved heaps, but be aware, you'll need the 790GX or 790FX (no integrated graphics) mainboard combo to accomplish it.
Looking at it from another side, ironically there's no quad-core platform more power efficient that the combo of a Phenom X4 with a 790GX based mainboard. Overall these four logical CPU cores are hardly stressed at all, let alone four of them simultaneously. Our tests showed that the PC in IDLE was only consuming 115 Watts, which was an all-time low. Very clever power states have been included throughout the design of these products. It's simple, your CPU will clock down if not stressed. Something that laptops have been doing for years. So it's a bit of a compromise I guess, when you really stress the PC, it'll consume a fairly decent amount current. But at average / normal / idle desktop usage, though slightly paradoxal, this is probably the most efficient system money can buy you at this time, and in the long term the most cost effective and green one.
I'll let you in on a secret, last week I changed my main work PC to a 790GX mainboard with Phenom X4 processor. That PC is not running it's four CPU cores to the maximum all the time anyway. And in desktop mode, it's so snazzy and extremely fast yet consuming so little power. It's a very green eco-system (790GX/FX+Phenom X4) to work with, I like it very much and to see it idle at just roughly 100 watts is amazing.
Performance wise the Phenom X4 9950 (BE) processor is just a small notch up in the eternal quest for more MHz and thus performance, the previous model Phenom X4 9850 is only clocked 100 MHz slower opposed to this 2600 MHz based Phenom X4 9950, and really next to a lower TDP that's the only difference. The 9950 however is a very competitive product that can keep up with the rest of the run of the mill quad-core processors. The next step for AMD is to gain even more performance and to lower the TDP. Other than that... it's just looking really good throughout the entire scope.
Newegg is selling these processors for 170 USD at the moment of writing this article, AMD 790GX/FX based mainboards sell for roughly 125 USD, do the math guys and acknowledge that is a good combo at a fair price.
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