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AMD’s continued push into Intel’s territory is now being spearheaded by the latest Phenom processors, a series of multi-core processors that promise performance while maintaining value.

Case in point; when the 9350e version of the Phenom was announced on July 1st, it came with a sticker price of just $235. That price has already been dropped down to $195 to make the Phenom even more phenomenal.

Price is only part of the story here, there is of course a big focus on performance – both overall speed and energy usage. AMD has been aiming for the Holy Grail of performance as defined by the latest measurement, performance per watt. While a performance per watt rating is clearly aimed at those looking to “green” up their PC offerings, it does also indicate a level of engineering that can be difficult to attain, more processing power with less energy. AMD is also adding another consideration to the value equation, performance per dollar, and the company is succeeding in pushing that envelope also.

AMD sent over a 9350e for us to take a look at and we were quite impressed with the improvements to the Phenom design offered by their latest processor.  

Billed as an energy efficient processor, the AMD Phenom X4 9350e Quad Core Processor   is 65 watt unit that offers 2.0GHz performance with 2MB total dedicated L2 cache, 2MB L3 cache, and a 3600MHz Hyper-Transport bus all on AMD’s standard socket AM2+ architecture.

We installed one of these units into a new Gigabyte MA790X-DS4 mother board and added 2Gbytes of Kingston DDR2 ram, an ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 display adapter and powered the system up with a ThermalTake 1000watt ToughPower PSU. Our test unit was built with performance in mind and our initial tests showed that this low power CPU does indeed offer high performance.

Using PerformanceTest V6.1 from Passmark, we were able to exercise the system to give us a Passmark rating of 770.5, under the 32 bit version of Windows Vista Business Edition. While that in itself is a good score, we did build our test system with top of the line components and power usage peaked at 167 watts, and used 119 watts while idle. 

The of course, the most important score here would be what the CPU itself offered and PassMark rated the CPU Integer Math at 248, CPU Floating Point Math at 1411.9, and CPU Encryption at 58.1. For comparative specs, we pulled up a review that we did on a SuperMicro 5035B-T system running a Intel Quad Core 2.33Ghz CPU. That unit  peaked at 231 watts under the maximum load of the PassMark test suite and offered offered a very good overall score of 1066.5. The Intel Quad-Core Xeon E5410 / 2.33 GHz has a street price of around $350 and PassMark rated the CPU Integer Math at 375.1, CPU Floating Point Math at 1846.6, and CPU Encryption at 67.0. The Intel CPU clearly outperforms the AMD unit, but at a premium for price and energy used.

While an Intel Quad-Core Xeon E5410 based PC may be better suited for high performance workstation use, the AMD Phenom 9350e may just be the ideal performance CPU for low cost desktops and inexpensive gaming rigs. Ultimately it will be up to system builders to choose which manufacturer to go with, but AMD is sure to not disappoint when it comes to prices verses performance.