AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Processor Review

Author: MAC
Date: May 2, 2011
Product Name: AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition
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So what can we say that hasn't been said before? We commend AMD for continously introducing new models and pushing the bar higher when it comes to pure clock speed. This approach creates a cascading effect whereby consumers can buy a previously flagship processor for a nice discount. It is great from a value perspective. However, this approach doesn't address the Phenom II X4's fundamental performance deficiencies. The tables below illustrate AMD's struggle versus Intel's past and present offerings, and really highlights how badly AMD needs to get their next-generation products out.

Click on images to enlarge

While the 3.7Ghz Phenom II X4 980 still struggles against the 2.66Ghz Core i5-750 in lightly-threaded workloads and most games, it can match or surpass the i5-750 in applications that utilize all four cores. However, the situation gets much uglier when you compare the Phenom II X4 980 to the Core i5-2500K. Aside from in wPrime, it is a slaughter across the board. Now to be fair, the Core i5-2500K is $30 more expensive than the AMD chip. However, even the $190 Core i5-2400, which we will be reviewing shortly, is also a better option than the X4 980. It has a 3.1Ghz default clock, can Turbo up to 3.3Ghz, and it will outperform the AMD chip in most workloads, often by double digits. The Phenom II X4 975 wasn't a particularly compelling option the day after Sandy Bridge processors were released, and the X4 980 isn't doing much better 4 months later.

If you're building a new system from scratch at this price point, go for a Sandy Bridge processor since there's no doubt about it's current performance superiority. However, even for those who simply want to upgrade their AM2+/AM3 system, the X4 980 is a little bit hard to recommend. This new model will be offered for $195, which is only $5 cheaper than the great six-core Phenom II X6 1090T. It is hard not to recommend paying the miniscule price premium in order to gain the two additional cores, because they honestly make a significant difference in quite a few workloads, and the 1090T's clockspeed deficit doesn't really have too much of an impact in most situations.

Honestly though, if you are a fan of AMD products, we would highly recommend that you make due with your current setup and wait a bit, since Bulldozers processors are right around the corner, and we think they are going to be well worth the wait.


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