We are back today with a quick update to an article we did a few weeks ago. That article addressed readership questions about how well the Phenom II X4 940 performed against a similar Intel Core 2 Quad (Q9550 in this case) with a multi-GPU setup. It was an interesting request and one that we enjoyed answering. Without repeating the entire article, we discovered the X4 940 was every bit a match for the Q9550 in the majority of our multi-GPU game tests. The one exception was Far Cry 2, but that title just favors Intel’s processors, especially the i7 series.

Our conclusion brought about additional questions. The majority of questions centered on how well the latest Phenom II AM3 processors perform in multi-GPU setups and if DDR3 really makes a difference in performance, application or gaming. We had other comments questioning our sanity and/or heritage after commenting on game play fluidity advantages for the Phenom II in a couple of major titles. We still stand by those comments and might even discuss them again today.

In the meantime, our article today seeks to answer if the Phenom II X3 720BE is a viable alternative to the more expensive Phenom II X4 940 and indirectly the Q9550 in gaming with a CrossFire X setup. We had numerous readers wanting to know how well a “budget” oriented processor would perform in a multi-GPU setup if they decided to divert possible cost savings to procuring an additional mid-range GPU like the HD 4870 1GB. A fair enough question for gaming centric users although we still believe in procuring the single fastest card possible (based on price/performance) for gaming. However, considering current release schedules, pricing, and performance ratios for the higher end GPUs, a more modest dual GPU setup might be a better value proposition over the long term if driver support is consistent.

We will be back shortly to answer the DDR2/DDR3 performance questions and more as we extend our coverage on budget and mid-range platforms. Until then, let’s discuss the system setup and get to the numbers.

The Setup...
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  • strikeback03 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    What is the need for a 9400M in a carPC? How much GPU does it take to run a front end?
  • tshen83 - Sunday, March 29, 2009 - link

    If you haven't figured out by now, both Intel and AMD flush higher TDP CPU parts down the consumer's throats, and save the really good CPUs(performance per watt) for the data centers in the 2P space.

    My original post was meant to tell Gary Key, the author, that his "paid" assertion that "Phenom is competitive as a gaming platform" is flawed, because all gaming benchmarks are GPU bound. It means CPU can be a lot weaker before it will show up on the FPS charts.

    There is no reason to save 30 dollars to get the X3 at all because the X4 is just a dinner bill away from the X3. Have some mac and cheese for dinner and you would have had enough money to get the Phenom x4 920.(Not that it is a smart choice at 125W TDP, but surely beats the X3 by far.)

    There are actually far better AMD CPUs to get than the Phenoms. AMD Shanghai 2376s are at the same price now, and allows scalability to 2 Socket and takes only 75W TDP also. Tyan S2912G2NR board is 60 dollars at newegg to support two Shanghais. Phenom x4 is the CPU that didn't make the "Shanghai" grade, and got flushed down to unsuspecting consumers. x3 is a castrated x4. You get the point.

    BTW, i7 920 will get far better longevity as a platform than any AMD processor right now. Nehalem-EP would likely bankrupt AMD for good this time(In fact AMD is already broke a few times if it wasn't selling blood to the Dubai oil suckers) Your argument that Phenom IIs will outlast Socket 775 is correct, except in the case of AMD going belly up, then, you are stuck with a 125W TDP heater that's half the speed of the i7-920.

    Good luck, I am taking off for the day. Get ready for tomorrow, when Nehalem-EP will be revealed, and it will put AMD out of its pathetic misery.
  • moriz - Sunday, March 29, 2009 - link

    some bold assertions. care to prove any of those?

    out of the three tech giants (Intel, nVIDIA, AMD), AMD currently has the best platform: only AMD can deliver the complete package using only their products. this will be a pretty big advantage down the road, and i think Intel and nVIDIA both know this.

    therefore, AMD is not going away.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Don't feed the TROLLS.
  • tshen83 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Only AMD can deliver the complete "CRAP" package to idiots pretty much. Let's see, the CPUs aren't as good as the Nehalems. The GPUs get their butts kicked in GPGPU modes. It takes AMD's 800 Stream processors to fight Nvidia's 240. Talk about freaking copy and paste engineering.

    In the enterprise market, IT managers will soon realize that the glorious AMD days(HP DL585) are gone, and 8 Socket Nehalem-EX will be a 128 thread monster with 1-2TB of ram(128 FB-DIMMs), killing off Itanium(HP Superdome) along the way.

    "AMD is not going away". Really? I have AMD's tombstone marked June 2010, with Hector Ruiz's name on it too. The Global Foundry spinoff dollars won't even last them 3 months.

  • Hacp - Sunday, March 29, 2009 - link

    Does the Opteron have unlocked multipliers? I'm thinking no!
  • Repr - Sunday, March 29, 2009 - link

    so far the E8x00 series have been the most wanted choice for gaming machines (in the netherlands at least). however after checking a few price comparison sides i found out that the x3 720 is cheaper then the E8400. i would wonder how the tripple core would fight up against the intel dual core.
  • hansmuff - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the article.
    I do have a request: for those games where you use timedemos or other recorded input files, would you be willing to link to them in the article?
    It'd be nice to compare one's own machine to those benchmarked.

    Thank you!
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    My guess is they want to keep them closed so "optimizations" don't take place that would give an unfair advantage to one side or the other.
  • Roland00 - Saturday, March 28, 2009 - link

    This article was near perfect in what I am looking for in a price for your buck comparison. Showing the difference between cpus at different frequencies, with/without cross fire, and showing the minimum frame rate in an easy to read manner. To top it all off you had real analysis in the text.

    Well I am glad to know the X3 PhenomIIs are comparable with gaming, with a nice oc and sometimes needing Crossfire.

    Then again at the price an X4 PhenomIIs are you may just want to get an X4 PhenomII

    Currently newegg has the x4 920 at 164. It has a promo code for 30 dollars ( AMD32530 ). Making the cpu $134 with free shipping and most places no tax.

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