Socket AM3: AMD's Phenom II Gets DDR3

Benchmark Results: Synthetics

We're going to start off with SiSoftware's Sandra here, if only because the memory bandwidth numbers are perhaps the most interesting in a platform introduction like this one. All of our AM2+ configurations employ the same DDR2-1066 modules, yet there was still a fair amount of variability between the slowest Phenom X3 8750 and the fastest Phenom II X4 940. As expected, the Core i7's triple-channel memory controller cranks out serious throughput, though our engineering sample was locked to DDR3-1066 speeds. Retail chips don't have this limitation in place and can run a more diverse array of divisors.

AMD did give us a heads-up that the current crop of AM3 motherboards was not optimized yet. But you wouldn't know it by looking at the throughput numbers, which show our AM3 platform pushing in excess of 13 GB/s. For the record, DDR3-1333 is the fastest memory setting AMD's integrated controller officially supports. However, Asus does make DDR3-1600 settings available in the BIOS of its M4A79T Deluxe.

If there were a most-important test in 3DMark Vantage for measuring processor performance, it'd likely be the CPU measurement. Here, it heavily favors Intel's Core i7 920 at 2.66 GHz, followed by the fastest Phenom II, the X4 940. In both of the other metrics, however, the Core i7 gets trounced by the rest of the field.

PCMark Vantage is loaded with the sorts of scenarios Intel's Core i7 is known to favor, so it's hardly a surprise to see the entry-level 920 taking a first place finish. The Phenom II X4 comes up a close second, though. The Socket AM3-based X4 810 outshines our simulated X4 910, despite its 2 MB L3 cache deficiencya good sign for DDR3 memory support on the newer platform.

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  • mi1ez
    Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition looks like it could be great value!
  • daglesj
    I'm glad you got the "What would happen if we chopped two pins off?" idea out of the way. Should save some tears.

    However, I'm sure some will try it still and be a top question on tech forums for the next few months.

    Why folks just cant do a simple google search before asking such questions is beyond me. Misplaced laziness I guess?
  • Startled_Toad
    I wasnt going to wait and get a high clocked am3 phenom to replace my current phenom and then upgrade to ddr3 later. But now iv read this i mite aswell just get the 940 and keep with a ddr2 setup.
  • Anonymous
    lol at all the peeps who hurried out and gobbled up an i7 setup for gaming purposes "the i7 needs to be ocd to function as a game machine" says it all when a stock 910 shows it up.
  • jasobnd
    why rush and buy an am3 board and cpu yet its just a waste of time and money! teething problems galore and until amd release a quad core BE im not even gonna bother changing my 9850BE cos it will be pointless.

    i upgrade when my computer does run the software i want to use not when someone releases somink with an extra digit in the name of it!!!
  • Solitaire
    Nice article. Would have been nice to see some C2Q scores or at least the power figures for the 720 though. Wonder if we'll see another bench featuring fully air-OCd i7-920 vs 720 vs 810 sometime? ;)

    Interesting. C2D still rules the roost for dual-thread apps and AMD's slightly less flaky 3+cores implemetation on 45nm parts makes the cheaper quads very competitive, and the 720 a potential sleeper hit for gamers especially once more and more games start to be inherently massively multithreaded. And all those who tried to turn an enterprise platform into gaming rigs *cough*Bloomfield*cough* because "Intel said so" are still wiping bits of egg from their beards. Guess the hype was just that.

    That said, the mainstream Nehalems coming out later this year might still prove solid competition if the stability improvements expected from AMDs next 45nm stepping fail to impress (or they again reserve stability enhancements for just the €200+ motherboards!). I'm not seeing any 4GHz Phenom2s on air yet...
  • avatar_raq
    Well I don't know about value coz the prices in my country differ considerably, but I can't help but saying investing in an AMD CPU is a great loss of performance.
    I bet many intel core 2 quads could have beaten the "new" AMDs if they were added to the mix. It's unfortunate they were not included.
  • avatar_raq
    And the advantage of intel CPUs becomes much greater when it comes to overclocking..In fact I can't imagine what made AMD lag behind intel by such a big gap..How did it come to this?!!! Come on AMD! As an end-user I like to see neck to neck competitors in the field!
  • pete3867
    the x3 720 looks like a superb chip for the money and all the phenoms look pretty good in gaming , surprised to see the i7 920 doing so badly in gaming
  • Jetinder
    Clock for clock an Intel quad core inc the "old" Q6600 CAN still beat the "new" Phenoms IIs even in AM3 mode.

    My motherboard can take DDR2 or DDR3 ram if i added DDR3 + Q6600 it would beat the Phenoms IIs even ones made for the AM3.

    x3 720 is good but it take 3 cores to try and beat an Intel 2 core......

    Now which is better AMD or Intel........ Intel of course.
  • pete3867
    if you can find a better intel chip for 100 pounds sterling or 145 dollars than the 720 x3 , well then intel is better , but seen as Intels i7 lags behind whilst costing 3 times as much .. well .. you get my drift
  • avatar_raq
    pete3867if you can find a better intel chip for 100 pounds sterling or 145 dollars than the 720 x3 , well then intel is better , but seen as Intels i7 lags behind whilst costing 3 times as much .. well .. you get my drift

    Obviously this is why AMD has reduced their CPU prices. Being unable to produce high end performance beasts foeced the company to cut their profits so they can at least compete in the entry and lower mid-range markets.
    As we all know, and THW's system building marathons every month prove, a worthy gaming rig (that can play all the games with decent visual quality @ decent frame rates) cannot be assembled for less than $1200. At that price range AMD just can't present anyhting which can run in parallel with the GPU and ram's performance.
    Again I hope AMD will soon close the gap. Even then, to be quite honest, I would go for Intel chips in my buils (since applications are and has always been optimized more for them and they experienced far much less issues), but the competition would then force Intel to drop prices, and both Intel and AMD's fanboys will be happy!
  • pete3867
    fair enough but personally I don't spend more than a couple of undred pounds when I upgrade (Istill run a skt 939 ) and decent gaming to me is ..well .. command and conquer red alert 3 at 1056 x whatever ,but I think I represent the majority of folks , and yes you are right about amd targeting the budget market , but that's what they have to do
  • Anonymous
    In my country (Malaysia) A reasonable (say for decent gaming with a 9800GTX+) motherboard + CPU, Intel way is US $222. AMD way is half of that, just about US $100 for a simple reasonable Gigabyte Board and a AMD X2 5000+

    I mean an AMD X2 5000+ DDR2 RAM and playing Crysis, the bottleneck say at 1440x900 is definitely still the GPU. Anything Nvidia GTX260 and above, of course, Intel. Anything Nvidia 9800 or less, AMD is more than good enough.

    I'm talking gaming here, I don't intend to encode and I do all my "productivity" on a Mac.
  • skalagon
    My AMD X2 5200 is still going strong xD Luckily i rarely have to defragment, scan for viruses, burn a dvd and play a game at the same time :D
  • Chulangj
    During normal day to day activity , the systems don’t outperform each other. It depends on the person and uses. I suggest for an average office and home user go with AMD because of cost. High end user will decide what to but according to performance.