Sunday, July 20, 2008

AMD Phenom X4 9850 vs. Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300

It's a measure of how far CPU technology has come when you can buy a CPU with four cores on a single die for about $235. That would be the AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition. It's also true that for under $300, you can buy an Intel quad-core CPU manufactured on a 45 nanometer (nm) process.

If you consider that the original Pentium processor, which ran at 66MHz (and that was the high-end model), was built using an 800nm process, with a measly 3.1 million transistors—well, you get the idea. And people spent upwards of 1,000 1993 dollars to buy one.

It's worth putting all this in perspective before we dive into the performance numbers of these two quad-core CPUs in our showdown today. The Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition and Core 2 Quad Q9300 are capable products and faster than the generations preceding them. One, of course, is faster than the other. As you might predict, it's the more expensive one who's manufactured by the company starting with the letter "I".

On the other hand, the new B3 stepping of the Phenom, even if you don't consider the critical TLB bug fix, just seems a little more well mannered than the original Phenom we reviewed back in December. Rated at a 2.5GHz clock speed, our Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition is currently looping 3Dmark06 at 2.8GHz—and the CPU fan is spinning at normal speeds.

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