Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4310/amd-phenom-ii-x4-980-black-edition-review



AMD has hardly kept quiet on the CPU front these past several months. At the beginning of the year AMD put the nail in Atom's netbook coffin with the Brazos platform, and last month it announced the first shipments of Llano APUs to OEMs. Expect an official launch of Llano to follow sometime in the next two months.

AMD's focus on the mainstream echoes to a certain extent its GPU strategy: focus on the bulk of the customers first, then address the smaller high end of the market. Despite an overly controlling stance on overclocking and issues with B2 stepping 6-series chipsets, Intel's Sandy Bridge (Core ix-2xxx) dominates the high end. AMD will make a go for that market later this year with its Bulldozer architecture. It's still too early for an accurate preview of Bulldozer performance, although the time for such a thing is quickly approaching.

Until Bulldozer's unveiling, the Phenom II remains as AMD's high end platform. Today, that very platform gets a little boost.

The Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition release marks a speed bump and a price drop for the quad-core Phenom II family. The 980 assumes the $195 price point, with everything else stepping down a notch in pricing:

CPU Specification Comparison
Processor Clock Speed Max Turbo L2 Cache L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T 3.3GHz 3.7GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $239
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.2GHz 3.6GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $205
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3.0GHz 3.5GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $195
AMD Phenom II X6 1065T 2.9GHz 3.4GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $185
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8GHz 3.3GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $175
AMD Phenom II X4 980 BE 3.7GHz N/A 2MB 6MB 125W $185
AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE 3.6GHz N/A 2MB 6MB 125W $175
AMD Phenom II X4 970 BE 3.5GHz N/A 2MB 6MB 125W $155
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 3.4GHz N/A 2MB 6MB 125W $135

Architecturally there are no surprises here. The 980 comes with a 6MB L3 cache shared by all of its cores and 512KB private L2s per core. The chip is built on Global Foundries' 45nm process with a 258mm^2 die size and around 758M transistors. TDP remains at 125W and the chip should work in all Socket-AM3 motherboards.

Don't expect any performance surprises here. The 980's closest competitor is Intel's Core i5 2400 a four core, four thread offering clocked at 3.1GHz by default with a 3.4GHz max turbo. Single threaded performance is clearly a win for the Core i5 2400:

Cinebench R10 - Single Threaded Test

Multithreaded performance ranges from equal between the two:

7-Zip Benchmark

...to another win for the Core i5 2400:

x264 HD 3.03 Benchmark - 2nd Pass

Typically the Core i5 2400 wins across the board. Load power consumption is also an advantage:

Load Power Consumption

The only advantage AMD offers is a fully unlocked CPU that can be overclocked as far as physics will allow. On our sample that meant 4.2GHz with the stock cooler. Given enough voltage hitting 4GHz+ on air isn't a problem:

Unfortunately even while overclocked the Phenom II X4 980 can't muster enough performance to put a stock Core i5 2400 to shame:

x264 HD 3.03 Benchmark - 2nd Pass

At 4.2GHz the 980 is fast enough to equal the 2400 in our x264 test and perhaps slightly surpass it in a benchmark that favors AMD's Phenom II architecture. But for the most part, even overclocked, the Phenom II X4 980 won't be worth it over Sandy Bridge.



General Performance: SYSMark 2007

Our journey starts with SYSMark 2007, the only all-encompassing performance suite in our review today. The idea here is simple: one benchmark to indicate the overall performance of your machine. SYSMark 2007 ends up being more of a dual-core benchmark as the applications/workload show minimal use of more than two threads.

SYSMark 2007

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Performance

To measure performance under Photoshop CS4 we turn to the Retouch Artists’ Speed Test. The test does basic photo editing; there are a couple of color space conversions, many layer creations, color curve adjustment, image and canvas size adjustment, unsharp mask, and finally a gaussian blur performed on the entire image.

The whole process is timed and thanks to the use of Intel's X25-M SSD as our test bed hard drive, performance is far more predictable than back when we used to test on mechanical disks.

Time is reported in seconds and the lower numbers mean better performance. The test is multithreaded and can hit all four cores in a quad-core machine.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Benchmark



Video Encoding Performance

Our DivX test is the same DivX / XMpeg 5.03 test we've run for the past few years now, the 1080p source file is encoded using the unconstrained DivX profile, quality/performance is set balanced at 5 and enhanced multithreading is enabled.

Xmpeg + DivX Encode

Windows Media Encoder 9 - Advanced Profile

Graysky's x264 HD test uses x264 to encode a 4Mbps 720p MPEG-2 source. The focus here is on quality rather than speed, thus the benchmark uses a 2-pass encode and reports the average frame rate in each pass.

x264 HD Benchmark - 1st Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - 2nd Pass

x264 HD 3.03 Benchmark - 1st Pass

x264 HD 3.03 Benchmark - 2nd Pass

 



3D Rendering Performance

Today's desktop processors are more than fast enough to do professional level 3D rendering at home. To look at performance under 3dsmax we ran the SPECapc 3dsmax 8 benchmark (only the CPU rendering tests) under 3dsmax 9 SP1. The results reported are the rendering composite scores.

3dsmax 9 - SPECapc 3dsmax 8 CPU Test

Created by the Cinema 4D folks we have Cinebench, a popular 3D rendering benchmark that gives us both single and multi-threaded 3D rendering results.

Cinebench R10 - Single Threaded Test

Cinebench R10 - Multithreaded Test

POV-Ray is a popular, open-source raytracing application that also doubles as a great tool to measure CPU floating point performance.

I ran the SMP benchmark in beta 23 of POV-Ray 3.73. The numbers reported are the final score in pixels per second.

POV-Ray 3.7 Beta Benchmark

Blender 3D Character Render



File Compression/Decompression Performance

Par2 is an application used for reconstructing downloaded archives. It can generate parity data from a given archive and later use it to recover the archive

Chuchusoft took the source code of par2cmdline 0.4 and parallelized it using Intel’s Threading Building Blocks 2.1. The result is a version of par2cmdline that can spawn multiple threads to repair par2 archives. For this test we took a 708MB archive, corrupted nearly 60MB of it, and used the multithreaded par2cmdline to recover it. The scores reported are the repair and recover time in seconds.

PAR2 Multithreaded Decompression Test

WinRAR 3.80 Compression Test

7-Zip Benchmark



Visual Studio 2008: Compiler Performance

You guys asked for it and finally I have something I feel is a good software build test. Using Visual Studio 2008 I'm compiling Chromium. It's a pretty huge project that takes over forty minutes to compile from the command line on the Core i3 2100. But the results are repeatable and the compile process will stress all 12 threads at 100% for almost the entire time on a 980X so it works for me.

Visual Studio 2008: Compile Chromium

Flash Video Creation

Sorenson Squeeze Flash Video Creation

Excel Math Performance

Excel Monte Carlo Simulation



Gaming Performance

In testing Left 4 Dead we use a custom recorded timedemo. We run on a GeForce GTX 280 at 1680 x 1050 with all quality options set to high. No AA/AF enabled.

Left 4 Dead

Far Cry 2 ships with several built in benchmarks. For this test we use the Playback (Action) demo at 1680 x 1050 in DX9 mode on a GTX 280. The game is set to medium defaults with performance options set to high.


Far Cry 2

Crysis Warhead also ships with a number of built in benchmarks. Running on a GTX 280 at 1680 x 1050 we run the ambush timedemo with mainstream quality settings. Physics is set to enthusiast however to further stress the CPU.

Crysis Warhead

Our Dragon Age: Origins benchmark begins with a shift to the Radeon HD 5870. From this point on these games are run under our Bench refresh testbed under Windows 7 x64. Our benchmark here is the same thing we ran in our integrated graphics tests - a quick FRAPS walkthrough inside a castle. The game is run at 1680 x 1050 at high quality and texture options.


Dragon Age: Origins

We're running Dawn of War II's internal benchmark at high quality defaults. Our GPU of choice is a Radeon HD 5870 running at 1680 x 1050.

Dawn of War II

Our World of Warcraft benchmark is a manual FRAPS runthrough of a lightly populated server with no other player controlled characters around. The frame rates here are higher than you'd see in a real world scenario, but the relative comparison between CPUs is accurate.

We run on a Radeon HD 5870 at 1680 x 1050. We're using WoW's high quality defaults but with weather intensity turned down all the way.

World of Warcraft

For Starcraft II we're using our heavy CPU test. This is a playback of a 3v3 match where all players gather in the middle of the map for one large, unit-heavy battle. While GPU plays a role here, we're mostly CPU bound. The Radeon HD 5870 is running at 1024 x 768 at medium quality settings to make this an even more pure CPU benchmark.


Starcraft II

This is Civ V's built in Late GameView benchmark, the newest addition to our gaming test suite. The benchmark outputs three scores: a full render score, a no-shadow render score and a no-render score. We present the first and the last, acting as a GPU and CPU benchmark respectively. 

We're running at 1680 x 1050 with all quality settings set to high. For this test we're using a brand new testbed with 8GB of memory and a GeForce GTX 580.

Civilization V: Late GameView Benchmark

Civilization V: Late GameView Benchmark



Power Consumption

Power consumption, like performance, isn't surprising here. I noticed I couldn't get Cool'n'Quiet to properly underclock the Phenom II X4 980 BE when idle, resulting in a constant 3.7GHz operating frequency and thus higher than expected idle power numbers. I updated our test platform to the latest public BIOS but I suspect this is something that'll be addressed in a future update.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption

I also measured power at the ATX12V connector to give you an idea of what actual CPU power consumption is like (excluding the motherboard, PSU loss, etc...):

Processor Idle Load (Cinebench R11.5)
Intel Core i7 2600K @ 4.4GHz 5W 111W
Intel Core i7 2600K (3.4GHz) 5W 86W
AMD Phenom II X4 975 BE (3.6GHz) 14W 96W
AMD Phenom II X4 980 BE (3.7GHz) 35W 104W
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3GHz) 20W 109W
Intel Core i5 661 (3.33GHz) 4W 33W
Intel Core i7 880 (3.06GHz) 3W 106W


Final Words

There's not a whole lot to say here about the Phenom II X4 980. AMD originally introduced the Phenom II architecture over two years ago to compete with Intel's Core 2 lineup. Intel has since been through one major microarchitecture revision (Sandy Bridge) and Phenom II is beginning to show its age. AMD is most competitive at the edges of its lineup. The Phenom II X6 offers a ton of cores at a budget if you have a workload that can use them, and the Athlon II at the low end is still quite desirable. Unless you're an existing Socket-AM3 motherboard owner a high end Phenom II X4 just isn't attractive.

With Bulldozer due out in the coming months I'd suggest either going Sandy Bridge or waiting to see how this one plays out.

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