Product: AMD Phenom II X6, Asus RoG Crosshair IV Formula
Company: AMD
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: April 29th, 2010
Summary & Conclusions

AMD
AMD
The big question about the Phenom II X6 is relevance - where does it make sense? With current Phenom II's topping out at 3.4GHz, the Phenom II X6 doesn't seem to move the game on significantly - at least at first glance. 50% more cores, similar clock speed; a pretty big jump in price. Look closer at the Turbo mode and the hexacore becomes more compelling, especially as the range fills out, and down in price.

The 890FX chipset is an incremental improvement over the last generation 790FX, as 890GX did for 790GX. Combined with the SB850 it's a solid design, especially in the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula configuration seen here. The IOMMU virtualization is a welcome new addition, but really ought to have been implemented on all 8-series chipsets. This is less of an issue with desktop boards, as very few desktop OS have support yet. Six true cores is a lot of processing power, and the 890FX chipset will really help it deliver in a gaming or productivity platform. The powerhouse new SB850 gives a lot of luster to the setup, thanks to the strong SATA 3.0 with FIS-based switching and extra connectivity options.

Realistically, the Phenom II X6 is both exciting and mundane at the same time. It's an execution of tried and true, designed to bring value to the masses. AMD's now almost trademark backward compatibility and simple, easy processor naming scheme make advising what to upgrade in an AM2+ or AM3 system very easy. CPU limited in your games? Phenom II X6 Turbo. Need more multi-tasking power? Phenom II X6. Crunching numbers on a budget? Phenom II X6. And it does all this while not cooking the bacon: cool and quiet is definitely the name of the game here.

AMD Leo: Phenom II X6 Turbo on 890FX with Evergreen Graphics
AMD Leo: Phenom II X6 Turbo on 890FX with Evergreen Graphics

If you're an overclocker enthusiast, the options here are like a giant inflatable fun park. Overclock for maximum core speed? Run all cores the same speed or find each core max? Undervolt the stock speed and run two cores in Turbo mode, higher than normal? Or run a 6 core Turbo mode? However you want to customize your system to your daily activities, the tools are freely and readily available. The biggest news is going to be how well the Thuban based Phenom II X4's perform - and do they unlock to 5 or 6 cores?

A lot has been made of the Intel Core i7 980X, a monstrous processor with a monstrous price. But somehow, the wee little hexacore that could, is chewing gum and taking names. He's ready to throw down, fighting on platform performance and cost; and a $1K+ CPU just can't win that fight. Retail pricing is going to make or break the Leo platform and Phenom II X6. While our test rig used here today is more than the cost of the Intel hexacore alone (thanks to the world's fastest graphics card - the HD 5970; and our Intel SSD's), it would be very easy to build a true enthusiast level Leo platform for under current i7 980X retail: AMD Phenom II X6 Turbo, AMD 8-series chipset, and AMD HD 5800 series graphics card is around $900USD.

The more sensible comparison is the Core i7 860 on Intel's P55 chipset, and here the Leo platform chalks up a lot of wins, and in some applications, a significant performance advantage. AMD's value oriented Leo platform allows consumers to build a top-notch gaming and productivity rig on a very reasonable budget.

Award
Award
Rage3D has no hesitation in recommending the AMD Phenom II X6 Turbo and awards it 5 stars, and the ASUS R.O.G. Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard 5 stars! The Phenom II X6 is a little high priced at $295USD, but time will drop that price just as it did for the Phenom II X4's. The 1055T appears to be a corker of a deal at $199USD for 2.8GHz and a 500MHz Turbo core. Early discounts are showing even better value for money, although how long these last and if the potential hassle of M.I.R. is worth the time is a personal decision.

Rage3D thanks AMD for providing the hardware for this review.  Click Here to discuss this article in the Rage3D Discussion Forums!  


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