We test all currently available phenomena, from the 9600 Black Edition to the as yet unpublished models 9700 and 9900.
While Intel has quickly regained much of its lost popularity in recent years, this is no excuse to forget the second largest computer processing company. AMD has made a name for itself with the original Athlon and Athlon 64 processors, and it only seems logical that its next-generation product, the Phenom (K10), should arouse expectations everywhere, and it did.
But as we know today, the launch of Phenom didn't go smoothly, and to make matters worse, Intel has barely stopped pounding with newer Core 2 CPU releases every quarter.
The first series of AMD Phenom processors was finally launched last November. The models 9500 (2.2 GHz) and 9600 (2.3 GHz) were presented for the first time. Initial pricing was set at $ 283 and $ 251, respectively. However, since their performance lagged a little behind the direct competition, AMD quickly responded by lowering the price to $ 251 and $ 209, respectively.
Today, two months after the release of these first processors, the same 9600 and 9500 models are still commercially available. Due to the known problems with B2 stepping, AMD has suspended the release of further models until around March until a new error-free B3 stepping will be available.
This new step updates the current Phenom range and adds a number of new processors. The Phenom 9500 is replaced by the 9550 and the 9600 by the 9650. Later in the year, AMD will also launch the Phenom 9700 and 9900 processors, which are clocked at 2.4 GHz and 2.6 GHz.
Although the new phenomena were very negative, we found that they are overall quite good. The biggest problem we currently have with the processor is that it doesn't scale very well. The fastest announced processor is the 9900, which will operate at just 2.6 GHz. Already when testing the 790FX platform, we found that if the Phenom is to have a chance against the Core 2 quads, it must at least match the same frequency. When you consider that most Core 2 processors offer significant overclocking latitude, it becomes clear that the Phenom faces an even greater challenge.
Today we will compare the Phenom 9500, 9600, 9700 and 9900 (B2 Stepping) with the recently released Core 2 Duo E8400 and the very popular Core 2 Quad Q6600. An older Athlon64 X2 5200+ processor is also added to the mix.
Although the actual shipping of the Phenom 9700 and 9900 processors should be faster than what we are showing you here, AMD has sent us technical samples, which in the meantime should give us a pretty good estimate of what to expect from them . The final retail versions of these two processors are based on the improved B3 step. The Phenom 9500 and 9600 are retail versions that we bought on the store shelves. So the performance of these versions is identical to what you can get today when you buy one of the two processors.