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Phenom IIs, Core I7-920 Win Out In Value Analysis 214

Posted by kdawson
from the computes-per-buck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've all seen processor benchmarks, but how do today's enthusiast CPUs look when you account for performance per dollar? Using a smorgasbord of charts, scatter plots, and performance tests, The Tech Report attempted to single out the highest-value offerings out of 16 popular Intel and AMD processors. The results might surprise you: AMD's 45nm Phenom IIs (both triple- and quad-core) prove to be strikingly competitive with Intel's Core 2 Quads. And, on the high end, Intel's $266 Core i7-920 turns out to be a compelling step up despite the higher costs of Core i7 platforms in general."
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Phenom IIs, Core I7-920 Win Out In Value Analysis

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  • Suprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonGCB (1398517) <7spams@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:53AM (#27268369)
    Really, who doesn't know that AMD is higher performance per dollar.
    • Re:Suprise? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nicolas.kassis (875270) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:54AM (#27268383)
      Dollars are meaningless GIVE ME RAW SPEED!!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Dollars are meaningless? And this is rated +5 Insightful? I knew the economy was bad, but I didn't knew it was THAT bad! (That or /. is some kind of billionaire's club.)

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Then you should be running a Power5. Actually most people don't need the fastest CPU. If you do then get the top of the line I7 or a two socket workstation motherboard.

    • My wife doesn't know that (she wouldn't care anyway). That's at least one person who doesn't know. ;)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)

        She cares because the Intel chips run cooler, and therefore the box will be quieter.

        • Re:Suprise? (Score:4, Informative)

          by diskis (221264) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:32AM (#27268937)

          2001 called, they want their AMD Thunderbird 1.4GHz back.

          Sorry, but Intel has taken the lead in the hottest CPU, 150W for the QX9775, versus 125W for the Phenom II 940.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by etymxris (121288)

            That's why you should stick to Core 2 Duos, which run at 65W, and are performance competitive with the latest AMD chips in 99% of use cases (quad core only has real value to "power" users that do things like transcoding, ray tracing, run multiple VMs, or run server apps).

            The i7 performance advantages just don't seem to be worth the doubling (or more) of TDP. The Phenom IIs don't fare much better.

            • by fnj (64210)

              Yep. The E6850 rocks. All around, it has never been bettered. They should have kept making the 57 Chevy BelAir, and they should have kept making the E6850.

            • by geekoid (135745)

              Well, those features not sued today will be used a lot more in the next 18 months, or so. Since I build computers to get 5 years of gaming out of them, the top end is a better deal for me.
              That plan has always worked well for me.

              I'll be building my next computer just before Star Craft II comes out.

            • The 45nm Core2 processors are even cooler - they have a TDP of 45w, and the average processor uses much less [xbitlabs.com].

              Please note: the measurements above are of processor power consumption only, not total system consumption. As you might expect, only the top-end 45nm Core2 procesors consume anywhere near their 45w TDP, just as only the top-end 65nm Core2 processors consume near 65w.

              As for the i7, it only performs well in perfectly-multithreaded benchmarks that are completely I/O-limited (like the aggressive multi-p

              • by FreonTrip (694097)
                It's worth noting that the recent Brisbane core Athlon X2s also have a 45W TDP. Most of what you've mentioned also applies there.
              • by Anpheus (908711)

                I disagree, purchasing an i7 now as opposed to a Core 2 Quad makes a great deal more sense as long as you're the sort of person who upgrades their computers themselves. If you don't ever swap a CPU, if you don't care about memory latency, or a whole mess of other things, then, really it doesn't matter what you buy. Buy a Phenom II rig, they're certainly Good Enough(tm) for whatever you want to do.

                On the other hand, if you want to be able to upgrade your computer and you do want that extra performance over t

          • by geekoid (135745)

            knee jerk much?

            I apologize for not using the proper punctuation. lets try this:

            She cares because the Intel chips run cooler, and therefore the box will be quieter~

            That said, I notice you chose the QX9775 when this is about the i7.
            If you want to play that game, then AMD is crap because there Phenom II 940 runs way hotter then Intels 286.

            And just for clarification, other factors go into how how a chip gets beside Wattage.
            Package design, heat sink, fan, placement of the bridge, etc . . .
            And from what I can tel

    • Not always Back in 2006 Intel Core 2 Duo chip actually beat AMD.

    • Really, who doesn't know that AMD is higher performance per dollar.

      What he says.

      Seriously: surprise? Even a moron with learning disabilities living under a rock in a country without Internet access knows that Phenoms offer the most performance per buck.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@gmail . c om> on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:54AM (#27268379)

    which one is more more secure? [slashdot.org]

  • Mistake in TFS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Evanisincontrol (830057) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:54AM (#27268385)

    And, on the high end, Intel's $266 Core i7-920 turns out to be a compelling step up despite the higher costs of Core i7 platforms in general.

    TFA says that the Core i7-920 is $284; the chip below it (The Core 2 Quad Q9550) is $266. It's still up there on the performance/price scale, though.

  • Bottom LIne (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybrthng (22291) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:55AM (#27268413) Journal

    Its about your investment.. For me Phenom II was a no brainer because of AM2+ compatibility. Once newegg put those suckers at 200 bucks i jumped. Its like i have an entire new PC and that was upgrading from the 9600 quad core.

    Oddly enough i didn't have complaints about the performance of the 9600.. i just figured encoding times and processing times would be reduced enough that it would accelerate my work and well, for 200 bucks its done so and more so than i expected.

    i7 is a nice platform but i'm penny pinching right now and looking for better ROI vs bragging rights.

    • Re:Bottom LIne (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday March 20, 2009 @10:58AM (#27268463)

      >i7 is a nice platform but i'm penny pinching right now and looking for better ROI vs bragging rights.

      I wonder if penny-pinching will be more common with the economic downturn. If AMD can price itself lower then ROI will be very tempting, even if the Intel product is faster.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Ender305 (1504031)
        I agree, me(and most other consumers) will buy whichever chip gives them the most GHz for their buck, it doesn't matter who makes it.
    • by Xtravar (725372) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:17AM (#27268717) Homepage Journal

      I recently had to make the tough choice of a Phenom 2 vs Intel Core Quad. I went with the Intel because I somehow came to the conclusion that they run cooler.

      You see, I'm building a recording PC, so I want to have as few fans as possible. I plan on having a huge heatsink with NO fan. Most reviews, if they focus on heat, focus on the overclocking aspect.

      If wattage correlates to heat like I think it does, I may have been better off with a Phenom 2. But, then again, the wattage test was only run during one task in this review. I read another review where it was different.

      There just aren't enough review sites out there for... ahem... "grown ups". Maybe I should start one that takes a look at performance with DAWs like REAPER.

      In the end, I don't care about best performance per dollar, or wattage per dollar. I care about performance per degree of heat, because heat = noise. Performance of modern CPUs is good enough these days.

      Oh well, that's my rant of the day.

      • by diskis (221264) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:24AM (#27268811)

        You didn't google enough.
        These guys [silentpcreview.com] are really anal when it comes to finding quiet parts. Following their advice, I now actually have an overclocked PC, that I can't hear if it's on or off.

        • by Xtravar (725372)

          Are you kidding? I visit that site every day. While they're great, they don't really have as large of a hardware selection as most review sites. Also, they're still (as you've demonstrated) somewhat geared toward the gamer/overclocker/max performance crowd.

          • Are you kidding? I visit that site every day. While they're great, they don't really have as large of a hardware selection as most review sites. Also, they're still (as you've demonstrated) somewhat geared toward the gamer/overclocker/max performance crowd.

            I don't think you have ever visited that site.

            It's geared so much towards silent/quiet computing that they have their own anechoic chamber and a special system for testing fan airflow. They even test hard drives for vibration (subjectively, but still).

            "Most review sites" give absolutely no indication of hardware noise, and if they do, it's almost entirely worthless.

            • by Xtravar (725372)

              Hi, friendly troll!

              Yes, all of those metrics are great. But where are their reviews/comparisons of the current line up of CPUs? You know... relating to how this whole topic started.

              There's lots of nice information on PSUs, fans, cases. That stuff's infinitely helpful, and for that I am indebted to silentpcreview.

              • They don't measure performance, only power consumption and noise. Naturally, a CPU won't produce noise, but a fan will :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)

          What real difference do you get from over clocking.
          Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against overclocking, and did it back when perfomance gains was going from Doom as a slide show to a smooth running game.
          I also understand overclocking for the sake of overclocking. But is getting 15% increase in MHz really noticeable without testing?

          And does it still ahve the same direct relationships now that a lot of work is being removed from the CPU, and the CPU's are tasking across several cores?

          • I also understand overclocking for the sake of overclocking. But is getting 15% increase in MHz really noticeable without testing?

            Try closer to 50%. You have to pick the right model of cpu to get that kind of increase, but it is always the case that the best overclocking chips are in the cheap section. So it isn't like you have to pay for the privilege if you do it right.

            And yes it can be very noticeable, depending on what you are doing. For example, it can mean the difference between smooth video playback of HD video and a herky jerky mess of dropouts.

          • by aaronl (43811)

            I took my i7 920 from 2.66GHz to 3.32GHz by upping my base clock from 133MHz to 166Mhz. This changes the QPI bus accordingly, making system transactions much faster as well. It cost me nothing over the original system cost to do this, and I didn't have to change voltages to make it work.

            This makes all single core bound tasks (which are frequent) substantially faster, and I spend far less money to do it.

          • On CPU-bound tasks like transcoding, it scales 1:1. I have a Q6600 overclocked from 2.4 ghz to 3.0 ghz - a 25% bump which is all-but-guaranteed with this chip (even higher overclocks are easily attainable, the Core line overclocks ridiculously well). This results in a 25% reduction in transcode times. Whether this is worth it to you, I suspect, is dependent on how many cpu-limited tasks you do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jbeaupre (752124)
        I'm curious what you think of the Atom processors. Passive cooling seems to be a nice benefit if you can live with less performance.
        • by Xtravar (725372)

          Didn't even know about Atom processors. I just did a quick search and it seems like they're for an entirely different market segment. Although, I'll have to keep that in mind if I ever build a HTPC.

          I was specifically looking for a quad core processor with this project, since I need to process effects on multiple audio streams at a time. The actual speed of those cores isn't too important to me as long as they're better than a Pentium 4. I also need relatively quick memory and the bus bandwidth/speed to

          • by Zashi (992673)
            Have you considered getting one or two PS3s? I'm not sure what audio processing software your running, but if you just need more cores you might be better off with a solution like linux clustering.

            You could also look into CUDA/OpenCL using one or more graphics cards.

            • by Fweeky (41046)

              The last AMD system I built is quieter and uses about an order of magnitude less power than my PS3 (~30W idle; about the same as a friend's Atom board manages).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fnj (64210)

          I'm curious what you think of the Atom processors

          The Atom is an efficiency crap fest. It's garbage. I'd rather have an Arm chip any day. Let's get away from this absurd undead i386 architecture garbage. Linux runs on any architecture.

      • by powerlord (28156)

        What do you mean by "Recording PC"?

        I'm not sure what you mean by quiet but if you need the least noise possible, look at the Atom architecture from Intel.

        If its Beefy enough then you could probably build a PC without a FAN (they use Atoms in most of the popular Netbooks which don't have fans, just some thermal material to passively cool the chips).

        Combine that with an SSD if you can afford one (again, depends on what you mean by "Recording PC"), OR some of the Western Digital "Green" drives (their 5400 RPM

        • by Xtravar (725372)

          While a real recording studio may not care so much about the noise (since they would just move the PC to another room), hobbyists have things a little difference.

          Anyway, my NewEgg shipment is already being delivered as we speak, so most of this discussion is moot. You can see more about the actual specifications I was looking for here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1168821&cid=27269123 [slashdot.org]

          The point of my main post is... review sites are always geared toward getting the most performance regardless of

          • by jargon82 (996613)
            If you are going to use windows 32bit, and you are going to have 4GB ram, you are also going to give up that ram one way or the other. 32 bit consumer windows doesn't support PAE and as such you have 32bits (4GB) of addressing space. If you throw a 512MB graphics card in, it uses (at least) 512MB of that addressing space, even if it's not using the RAM. The most you can reliably count on using in 32 bit windows is a tad above 3GB.
        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by fnj (64210)

          The Atom is GARBAGE. Use an Arm chip.

      • If you're doing serious recording, your computer should be isolated from whatever you are recording anyway.

        Noise shouldn't be an issue.
      • by orzetto (545509)

        If wattage correlates to heat like I think it does, [...]

        Er... in case you had doubts, wattage correlates with heat 100%. When energy enters a computer case, it can only leave as heat, except possibly for the small amount of airborne kinetic energy impelled away by the fans, which is anyway very small.

        If you are talking about temperature, you obviously have to consider both heat input (=wattage) and dissipation capacity. In your particular case, in which you want to minimise fan usage, low wattage is very a

      • by fnj (64210)

        I'm with you on power drain. Intel has continually shot themselves in the balls since the early Conroe era. The last good thing they did was adopt the superb development work that came from their Israel team. The T2500, T7200, and E6850 rocked; it's all been downhill since then. We're repeating the Pentium 4 gag-fest debacle, churning out space heaters that do a little computing on the side. They laid a giant shit egg with their 45nm process.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        A solution is to put a fan in a different room that circulates cool air into a 'closet' you put your computer in so is is silent during recording.
        Or put your computer in a different room, and then just remote into it from a less powerful computer in the studio.

        Or lease a computer housed in a different building and just remote into there.

    • by IorDMUX (870522)
      I just upgraded to a Phenom II 940 last night (I still haven't had time for benchmarks). One of the best features, for me, is that I was able to drop it right into my 1.5 year old AM2+/DDR1066 motherboard, upgrade the BIOS, and be on my way.

      Though ROI and convenience weighed heavily, for me, there is one more bit of philosophy that affected my decision:
      If Intel and AMD were to offer me equal and balanced options, I would purchase AMD, so that next time I go looking for a CPU, I still have the choice.
  • by junglebeast (1497399) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:05AM (#27268553)
    It is wrong to compare performance/price because this assumes price scales linearly with performance, which is clearly false. Nobody expects to get 50% more performance when they pay 50% more. But if there is a $100 process having a performance of 1000, then we would normally consider it an excellent deal if we could pay $150 for a performance of 1300. The value for your money therefore scales in a non-linear way, and it's better to just have everyone look at the scatter plot and choose their own price point based on their personal internal scaling function. The core i7 has the greatest discontinuity in jumping ahead of the rest of the crowd in this regard.
    • by slashkitty (21637) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:22AM (#27268805) Homepage
      Actually, this is a very important comparison. If you're considering any sort of clustering, like what I do, you absolutely need it. Do you need 100 opterons, or 4 core i7's?

      In the cluster I run, I've been quickly swapping out old xeons for new Core i7's. With just the 4 920's I have running, I've been able to remove 20 old xeons, all while improving the overall performance of the cluster.

      Price / Performance also helps you judge how fast the computer will be antiquated. If you now need only 500 gflops, and this computers offers 1000, you know that it should sustain you into the future.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        I think his general point is that most of us are only able to use one primary computer at a time, you can have supporting ones like file server etc. but we humans don't scale well. So if I got 1000$ to spend and the choice is between Intel at 1000$ and AMD at 500$ then my only real options are to buy the Intel or buy AMD and pocket the 500$. Buying two AMD machiens might net me more gigaflops than the Intel but I don't have four arms and 30fps on each screen is not the same as 60fps. I know that I'm quite a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:09AM (#27268605)

    Until electricity is free, comparing CPUs based on up-front cost of the CPUs alone ignores a major part of the expense of owning and operating computers, particularly if you're running servers.

    But that's okay, Slashdot. I understand that you live in your parents' basement and you don't pay for electricity anyway.

    • by fnj (64210)

      Yep. A piece of crap Intel or AMD system running at 200 watts 24x7 uses 1750kwh per year, which at 20 cents per kwh comes to $350 per year. If it lasts 5 years, you're looking at a total power bill of $1750.

      We need new blood. This garbage is pathetic. It's producing 99.9% heat and 0.01% computing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yoshi_mon (172895)

        ...running at 200 watts 24x7...

        Unless your running SETI or some other setup then it's doubtful that your CPU is pegged at 200W 24x7. But lets for the sake of argument say that for whatever reason that some setup has it's CPU pegged at max/near-max all the time. What then is the value of the productivity?

        Now that's a huge question and something I'm not even going to being to answer but just wanted to point out that putting out a lot of big numbers without context is pretty silly.

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      The thermal envelopes in most current processors aren't that different until you start looking at the extreme top end, and if you're looking in that price range, you don't really care about the cost anyway. Besides, a couple bucks a month isn't that much of a deal for most people, the initial capital outlay and overall performance are MUCH more important... it really only becomes a serious concern when you're running datacenter numbers of machines.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:12AM (#27268645)

    What stood out to me is that AMD seems to have a fairly consistent price:performance ratio. Is this policy?

    Most of their offerings fall pretty close to a line (not quite a zero crossing, but close). If this holds true for all their current and future offerings, you don't have to have test metrics for every processor. You can use price as a reasonable estimate of performance. i.e. Double the price gets you twice the performance.

    Intel on the other hand, you can't trust price to indicate performance. A lot more research is involved. OR else you have to assume there's a high likelihood that the AMD offering for the same price will be better.

    • by giverson (532542) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:19AM (#27268757) Journal

      It's because Intel dominates the high end. AMD can't sell a processor with a premium pricetag because its performance would compete with Intel's midrange which is priced pretty reasonably.

      AMD is the loveable underdog, but don't forget how expensive their X2s were when they were dominant. AMD isn't cheap because they're doing us a favor, they're cheap because they have to be.

      • by Kjella (173770) on Friday March 20, 2009 @12:55PM (#27270121) Homepage

        AMD is the loveable underdog, but don't forget how expensive their X2s were when they were dominant. AMD isn't cheap because they're doing us a favor, they're cheap because they have to be.

        That's a thing that people don't seem to get - prices are what they must be in the market. The question is, can you skim off enough to keep designing new chips and developing your foundries? Already they've failed at the latter and is trying a huge bet trying to make a foundry company spin-off. No matter how badly they're really doing, in the "here and now" they'll be competitive right up until they file for chapter 11.

    • by Bill Dog (726542) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:21AM (#27268773) Journal

      Indeed. Something that stood out to me (from that scatter graph) is:
      * If you don't want to spend more than $100 on a CPU, AMD wins.
      * If you don't want to spend more than $150 on a CPU, AMD wins.
      * If you don't want to spend more than $200 on a CPU, AMD wins.
      * If you don't want to spend more than $250 on a CPU, AMD wins.
      * If you don't want to spend more than $300 on a CPU, Intel's (cheapest) i7 wins by far.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fnj (64210)

        Now run your comparisons based on 64 bit code instead of 32 bit. Intel shits the bed running in 64 bit mode.

  • Best performance per dollar: the 486 i got for free. Do the math yourself :)
  • by sricetx (806767) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:34AM (#27268963)
    The article is missing the best CPU value for the money, in my opinion. The AMD Kuma 7750 AM2+ processor. It's dual core, but at around $60 shipped (Newegg) nothing else touches it from a performance to dollar perspective. They should have included the 7750 in the comparison rather than the Athlon X2 6400+ (the 7750 is K10 architecture vs. K8 for the 6400+, has 2MB level 3 cache, is not discontinued, etc.)
    • by mdm-adph (1030332)

      It's probably because at stock clocks (what they have to run for this test), the 7750 runs a lot slower than the 6400+, while probably using the same amount of power.

      Other than that it's a darn good chip.

      • It also has vastly increased memory bandwidth (3600 vs 2000), a much improved CPU cache, support for faster RAM, uses less power (95 vs 125W), has a 65nm die instead of a 90nm one, works in AM2+ motherboards, and contains the latest set of SIMD extensions. The 6400+ maybe slightly faster (as this shows [tomshardware.com]), however it is twice the price of the 7750 for not a lot of benefit. (and the 7750 overclocks better than the 6400)

        With that in mind, I'd imagine the 7750 would have been solidly beaten the 6400+ CPU in
    • by PitaBred (632671)
      I just got one of those for my media center, and it flies for 1080p decoding (mplayer-mt is awesome). The 7750 is the Black edition, so the multiplier is unlocked. It runs at 2.7GHz stock, it'll overclock to 3GHz without really breaking a sweat in my experience, not to mention having all the extra cache that sricetx noted.
  • Just about threading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by astra05 (987104) on Friday March 20, 2009 @11:38AM (#27269051)
    I just redid my system line by putting an e8400 in my desktop, where I mostly game. I switched out a Phenom 9600 (cause the tlb erratum for vista x64) to my file server/media center (which runs Ubuntu). and really as this graph will tell you: fast dual-cores are going to blow away slow quads in gaming because most games are not programmed for multiple threads and take advantage of a higher clock core. However, for most other tasks I do, like compiling the Linux Kernel (I run gentoo side by side with vista), the Quad Core Phenom 9600 seems to be much faster. Plus, I had a hard time overclocking the 9600 to anything past 2.6 ghz whereas the 3.0 ghz stock e8400 easily clocks up to ~4.0ghz on air. I should also note that I picked the e8400 over the q8200 because of the virtualization tech as I do alot of virtual systems for testing.
  • ..like audio software and soft synths.

    Ableton Live will support multiple chips/cores, so I want something that will really make short work of those VSTs that are currently beating my CPU like a redheaded stepchild.

    Any ideas?

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