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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

AMD has just released their fastest six-core CPU, the Phenom II X6 1100T Black Edition, which runs at 3.3 GHz. Let’s take a look at its performance.

It is important to know that the new Phenom II X6 1100T isn’t the CPU with the highest clock rate offered by AMD – the Phenom II X4 970 Black Edition works at 3.5 GHz.

One side effect of the release of the new Phenom II X6 1100T was the drop in price of the other six-core CPUs offered by AMD. The Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz) dropped from USD 265 to USD 230 and the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz) dropped from USD 240 to USD 200 since our last CPU review. The new Phenom II X6 1100T comes priced at USD 265 for distributors, therefore retailers will offer this CPU for more than that.

The new Phenom II X6 1100T is a “Black Edition” CPU, meaning that it comes with its clock multiplier unlocked, giving you another way to overclock your CPU (by increasing its clock multiplier).

Phenom II X6 CPUs have a technology similar to Turbo Boost from Intel, dubbed Turbo Core. When the CPU “feels” that three or more cores are idle, it will increase the clock rate from the active cores. On the new Phenom II X6 1100T the clock is increased from 3.3 GHz (x16.5 multiplier) to 3.7 GHz (x18.5 multiplier).

On the other hand, AMD still doesn’t have anything similar to Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, which simulates an extra core on each CPU core. So the six-core CPU from Intel is seen by the operating system and programs as a 12-core CPU.

Let’s now make a quick comparison between the CPUs we included in our benchmarking.

[nextpage title=”The Tested CPUs”]

In the tables below you can see a comparison between the CPUs we included in our review. AMD CPUs do not support SSE4 instructions (they have a proprietary instruction set called SSE4a, which is not the same thing as SSE4).

CPU Cores HT Internal Clock Turbo Clock QPI or FSB Base Clock Core Technology TDP Socket Price
Core i7-980X 6 Yes 3.33 GHz 3.60 GHz 6.4 GB/s 133 MHz Gulftown 32 nm 130 W 1366 USD 1,000
Core i7-965 4 Yes 3.20 GHz 3.46 GHz 6.4 GB/s 133 MHz Bloomfield 45 nm 130 W 1366 USD 1,000
Core i7-870 4 Yes 2.93 GHz 3.60 GHz 2 GB/s 133 MHz Lynnfield 45 nm 95 W 1156 USD 280
Core i5-750 4 No 2.66 GHz 3.20 GHz 2 GB/s 133 MHz Lynnfield 45 nm 95 W 1156 USD 200
Phenom II X6 1100T 6 No 3.3 GHz 3.7 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Thuban 45 nm 125 W AM3 USD 265 *
Phenom II X6 1090T 6 No 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Thuban 45 nm 125 W AM3 USD 230
Phenom II X6 1075T 6 No 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Thuban 45 nm 125 W AM3 USD 200
Phenom II X4 970 4 No 3.5 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Deneb 45 nm 125 W AM3 USD 185
Phenom II X4 965 4 No 3.4 GHz 8 GB/s 200 MHz Deneb 45 nm 140 W * AM3 USD 160

TDP stands for Thermal Design Power which advises the user of the maximum amount of heat the CPU can dissipate. The CPU cooler must be capable of dissipating at least this amount of heat.

* The prices listed were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review, except for the Phenom II X6 1100T, that we list the price AMD charges for distributors in the USA buying 1,000 processors.

** Newer models are coming with a TDP of 125 W. The tested model was from the older version, with a TDP of 140 W.

CPU L1 Cache L2 Cache L3 Cache Memory Support Memory Channels
Core i7-980X 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 12 MB total DDR3 up to 1066 MHz Three
Core i7-965 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1066 MHz Three
Core i7-870 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Core i5-750 32 KB + 32 KB per core 256 KB per core 8 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X6 1100T 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X6 1090T 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X6 1075T 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X4 970 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two
Phenom II X4 965 64 KB + 64 KB per core 512 KB per core 6 MB total DDR3 up to 1333 MHz Two

AMD CPUs talk to the external world (i.e., the chipset) through a bus called HyperTransport. For a detailed explanation how this bus works, please read our The HyperTransport Bus Used by AMD Processors tutorial.

Socket LGA1366 CPUs talk to the external world (i.e., the chipset) through a bus called QuickPath Interconnect (QPI), which has the same goal as the HyperTransport bus. For a detailed explanation on how QPI bus works, read our Everything You Need to Know About The QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) tutorial. Socket LGA1156 CPUs, however, use the DMI (Digital Media Interface) bus to talk to the chipset, which is the interface previously used to make the connection between the north bridge and the south bridge chips on Intel chipsets. At a first look this solution may seem worse than using the QPI bus, because the DMI interface provides a maximum transfer rate of 2 GB/s while QPI provides a maximum transfer rate of 4.8 GB/s or 6.4 GB/s, depending on the CPU. However, on socket LGA1156 the CPU has an integrated PCI Express 2.0 controller, so these CPUs talk directly to the main video card without using their external bus and without using the chipset.

Our tests have a known flaw. Socket LGA1366 Core i7 processors support triple-channel memory configuration and with them we used three 1 GB DDR3-1066 modules, so these CPUs had 3 GB available. With all other CPUs we used two 1 GB DDR3-1333 modules, so these CPUs had 2 GB available. Unfortunately due to the different memory configuration supported by each CPU, we had to decide which methodology to use, and we chose to use one that would provide the “best” memory co
nfiguration for the tested system.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the CPU being tested and the motherboard, which had to be replaced to match the different CPU sockets.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • NTFS
  • Video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • NVIDIA video driver version: 195.62
  • Intel Inf chipset driver version: 9.1.1.1019
  • AMD chipset driver version: 3.0.762.0

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”PCMark Vantage”]

PCMark Vantage simulates the use of real-world applications and gives scores for the following categories:

  • PCMark
  • Memories
  • TV and Movies
  • Gaming
  • Music
  • Communications
  • Productivity
  • HDD

For a detailed description of each one of these tests, please download and read the PCMark Vantage Reviewer’s Guide.

You can see the results for each category below. We are not going to compare the results for the Memories and HDD suites.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On the PCMark overall score the new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same result as the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz). The Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) was 11% faster than this new CPU from AMD.

Phenom II X6 1100T

 

The new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved a TV and Movies score similar to the Phenom II X6 1075T’s, Phenom II X4 970’s and Core i5-750’s.

Phenom II X6 1100T 

On the gaming test, the new Phenom II X6 1100T  (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), being 8% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz) and 17% faster than Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz). The Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) was 21% faster.

Phenom II X6 1100T

 

On the Music benchmark, the Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz) and Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), being just 4% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz). The Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) was only 4% faster than the reviewed CPU on this benchmark.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On the Communications benchmark, the Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz), Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz) and Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz). It was 5% faster than the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), 12% faster than the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) and 13% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz). The reviewed CPU only lost to the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 60% faster.

Phenom II X6 1100T

And finally on the Productivity benchmark, the Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the
Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) and Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz). It was 6% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz).

[nextpage title=”VirtualDub + DivX”]

With VirtualDub we converted a full-length DVD movie to DivX format and saw how long it took for this conversion to be completed. The DivX codec is capable of recognizing and using not only more than one CPU (i.e., more than one core), but also the SSE4 instruction set (feature not available on the reviewed CPUs).

The movie we chose to convert was Star Trek – The Motion Picture: Director’s Cut. We copied the movie to our hard disk drive with no compression, so the final original file on our HDD was 6.79 GB. After compressing it with DivX, the final file was only 767.40 MB, which is quite remarkable.

The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the better.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On DivX encoding the new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) was 4% faster than the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), 9% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz), 10% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), 13% faster than the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz) and 18% faster than the Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz).

It lost to the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz), which was 7% faster than the reviewed CPU, to the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz), which was 11% faster, and the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 17% faster.

[nextpage title=”Photoshop CS4″]

The best way to measure performance is by using real programs. The problem, though, is creating a methodology using real software that provides accurate results. For Photoshop CS4, there is a methodology created by the folks at GamingHeaven that is very accurate. Their script applies a series of 15 filters to a sample image, and we wrote down the time taken for each filter to run. At the end, we have the results for each individual filter and we simply added them up to have the total time taken to run the 15 filters from the GamingHeaven batch. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the number the better.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On Photoshop CS4, the new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), being 4% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), 5% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3.0 GHz) and Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), and 9% faster than the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz). The Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz) was 4% faster, the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz) was 15% faster, and the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz) was 19% faster than the reviewed CPU.

[nextpage title=”After Effects CS4″]

After Effects is a very well-known program for video post-production that is used to add animation and visual effects in videos. To evaluate the performance of each CPU running this program, we ran a workload consisting of 25 compositions that applied several filters and effects to a variety of input file types such as PSD (Photoshop), AI (Illustrator), EPS, and TIF. After each filter was applied, the composition was rendered to an uncompressed AVI file with the same resolution as the input files. The results below are the time each CPU took to finish the whole batch, given in seconds, so the lower the number the better.

Phenom II X6 1100T

 

On After Effects CS4, the new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz), being 5% faster than the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), 10% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3 GHz), 31% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), and 34% faster than the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz). It lost to the Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz), which was 29% faster, to the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz), which was 33% faster, and to the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 85% faster.

[nextpage title=”WinRAR”]

We measured the time each CPU took to compress five high-resolution 48-bit uncompressed TIF images, each one with around 70 MB, to RAR format with the popular WinRAR application. The results below are given in seconds, so the lower the number the better.

Phenom II X6 1100T

The new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level of the Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), being 7% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3.0 GHz), 9% faster than the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), and 10% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz). It lost to the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz), which was 21% faster, to the Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz), which was 32% faster, to the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz), which was 39% faster, and to the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 56% faster.

[nextpage title=”Cinebench 11.5″]

Cinebench 11.5 is based on the 3D software, Cinema 4d. It is very useful to measure the performance gain given by having more than one CPU installed on the system when rendering heavy 3D images. Rendering is one area in which having more than one CPU helps considerably, because usually, rendering software recognizes several CPUs. (Cinebench, for instance, can use up to 16 CPUs.)

Since we were interested in measuring the rendering performance, we ran the test called “Rendering x CPUs,” which renders a “heavy” sample image using all available CPUs (or cores – either real or virtual, as on CPUs with Hyper-Threading technology, each core is recognized as two cores by the operating system) to speed up the process.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On Cinebench, the new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level as the Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz) and Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz). It was 7% faster than the Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz), 9% faster than the Phenom II X6 1075T (3.0 GHz), 42% faster than the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz), 45% faster than the Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), and 78% faster than the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz). It lost only to the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 53% faster.

[nextpage title=”Call of Duty 4″]

Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.

We ran this game under 2560×1600, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was put on the maximum values on the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the game internal benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVID
IA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo for downloading here if you want to run your own benchmarks. The game was updated to version 1.7. We ran this test five times, discarding the lowest and the highest scores. The results below are an arithmetic average of the three remaining values, given in frames per second (FPS).

Phenom II X6 1100T

The new Phenom II X6 1100T (3.3 GHz) achieved the same performance level of the Phenom II X6 1075T (3.0 GHz). All other CPUs were between 4% and 19% faster. For example, the Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz) was 13% faster and the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz) faster than the reviewed CPU.

[nextpage title=”Super Street Fighter IV”]

Super Street Fighter IV is a DirectX 9 game that implements a vast array of shaders and its own physics engine. The game was originally designed for consoles and, thus, its physics engine is CPU-bound.

We tested this program at 2560×1600 resolution and at 8x anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering, and configuring all the settings to their maximum values and the “Extra Touch” feature to “Brush.” Our results are a score number given by the game’s internal benchmarking feature.

Phenom II X6 1100T

Here the new Phenom II X6 1100T achieved the same performance level as most of the CPUs included in our comparison, showing that in this game and configuration the GPU and not the CPU is the component that is dictating performance.

[nextpage title=”Crysis Warhead”]

Crysis Warhead is a DirectX 10 game based on the same engine as the original Crysis, but optimized (it runs under DirectX 9.0c when installed on Windows XP). We ran this game under 1920 x 1200 resolution, setting image quality to “high” and disabling both anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing using the Airfield demo. The results below are the number of frames per second achieved by each processor.

Phenom II X6 1100T

From the results we can definitely see that this game is GPU-bound, meaning that is the video card, not the CPU, that is limiting its performance. Here the Phenom II X6 1100T achieved the same performance level as most of the CPUs included in our comparison. The notable exceptions were against the Core i5-750 (2.66 GHz), Phenom II X4 965 (3.4 GHz), Phenom II X4 970 (3.5 GHz) and Phenom II X6 1090T (3.2 GHz), where the reviewed CPU was 6%, 9%, 9%, and 13% faster, respectively.

[nextpage title=”Far Cry 2″]

Far Cry 2 is based on an entirely new game engine called Dunia, which is DirectX 10 when played under Windows 7 or Windows Vista with a DirectX 10-compatible video card. We used the benchmarking utility that comes with this game, setting video resolution to 1920 x 1200, image quality to “high,” disabling both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, and running the “Ranch Long” demo. The results below are expressed in frames per second.

Phenom II X6 1100T

On Far Cry 2, the new Phenom II X6 1100T achieved the same performance level as most of the CPUs included in our comparison. The only two exceptions were against the Core i7-980X (3.33 GHz), which was 7% faster, and Core i7-965 (3.2 GHz), which was 4% faster.

[nextpage title=”Overclocking”]

We did some basic overclocking with the new Phenom II X6 1100T. We used the AMD stock cooler and didn’t play a lot with all options available, so with more time and patience you may achieve results even better than ours. We ran Super Street Fighter IV to test the system stability.

We were able to increase its base clock from 200 MHz to 240 MHz, making the CPU basic internal clock to be 4 GHz, a 21.2% increase on its internal clock rate. This is an outstanding achievement.

Then we decided to play with the unlocked clock multiplier. The best combination we could use was setting the clock multiplier at 17.5x (from its 16.5x default multiplier) and, at the same time, increasing the base clock to 230 MHz, making our CPU to run at 4.03 GHz internally, a 22% increase on its internal clock rate.

In Figure 1 you can see the CPU-Z screenshot of this overclocking. With more time and patience you will probably be able to achieve even better results.

Phenom II X6 1100T OverclockingFigure 1: Overclocking

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

There are some good news about the new Phenom II X6 1100T. It comes with the same price tag the Phenom II X6 1090T used to carry, meaning that AMD dropped the price for all the other six-core CPUs they have. The second thing really good about this CPU is its overclocking capability, higher than all other AMD CPUs we’ve reviewed to date.

The Phenom II X6 1100T may be a good CPU if you know what you are buying. If you will run programs that will use the extra cores provided by this CPU – 3D image rendering and video processing are the best examples –, then this new CPU brings an unbeatable cost/benefit ratio. It is true that Intel has several CPUs that are faster than the Phenom II X6 1100T, but they are also more expensive.

However, if you are a regular user that won’t use the extra cores, than you should buy a different (and more inexpensive) CPU, like the Core i5-750 or a Phenom II X4.

If you play games, you can also save money buying a different CPU, because in most games it is the video card, and not the CPU, that dictates performance when you max out image quality settings. Therefore, buying a more affordable CPU and investing the difference in a more powerful video card will bring you a better gaming performance.

The six-core Intel Core i7-980X continues to be the fastest PC processor available on the market. But it is more than 3.5 times more expensive than the Phenom II X6 1100T, without bringing 3.5 times more performance.