AMD's Phenom II X6 - Hexacore for the Masses


On April 27, AMD released not just one, but two 6-core processors (codename: Thuban) onto the market: the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (2.6Ghz per core) and the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2GHz per core). In contrast to Intel's i7 980x Extreme (6-core CPU, 3.33GHz launched in March 2010), AMD continues its mantra of delivering performance at an affordable price. Just how affordable the AMD CPU's are can be noted in the substantial price difference: Prices for AMD CPUs begin at just under 200 Euros, compared with the mortgage-inducing 949 Euros for the 980X. That translates in being able to build a high-end computer with the AMD without even touching the price of the i7 980X!

In addition to the new CPUs, AMD has also released its new flagship chipset: the AMD 890FX. This new chipset offers support for USB3, SATA6 and, perhaps most importantly for gamers, support for 4 PCI-E slots and great overclockability, giving an even better bang for your buck.

As well as adding the two extra cores, AMD has added a nifty feature that in fact, makes the Phenom X6 a 2-in-1 deal: Turbo Core. Similar to Intel's Turbo Boost, Turbo Core sets 3 of the CPU cores to a sleep state, while raising the frequency of the remaining 3, giving a very powerful Tri-Core setup. This is very useful for gaming where not all the cores are utilized, as well as video/photo editing, and similar applications. Turbo Core detects when some of the cores are not being used, and consequently sets them to sleep until they are needed again. Turbo Core is completely dynamic, using whatever cores are available at the time, meaning that it will not always the same 3 cores that are being overclocked - ensuring product longevity is sustained. One can read a little deeper and note that this also means that all cores within the CPU are capable of being overclocked - great news for enthusiasts and gamers alike.

While the new 6-core CPUs aren't as impressive as Intel's i7 980X in terms of pure power and speed, AMD is certainly maintaining its path of delivering performance at a great price. Turbo Core is a noteworthy feature, which gives the X6 more appeal even without software that cannot fully take advantage of the extra cores. Gamers won't benefit as much from Turbo Core as productivity in video editing/encoding, so if you already own a decent quad-core, and you only intend to game, you shouldn't shell out for the Phenom II X6 just yet.

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