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View Full Version : AMD Phenom processors: Deals or Duds?



Lupy
2009-06-07, 03:13 PM
Hello Playground. This Fall my family will be getting a new family computer (with Win7) to replace our aging WinXP Hewlett Packard. In an attempt to save money, I will be building the computer, and so I am doing my homework on components.

AMD processors are much cheaper than Intel processors. I know that their Radeon products are high quality, but I wanted to ask you if their processors were similarly trustworthy. This especially important because I want our new computer to have a Quad Core processor (we don't mind spending money for something that will last), and there is an AMD Quad Core Phenom X4 for $90.

I don't expect much from that processor obviously, but it made me raise an eyebrow about the quality of their lineup.

So tell me, do they make good processors? And if so, which lines?

bluewind95
2009-06-07, 04:35 PM
I don't know much about them in general, but my laptop has an AMD Turion 64 X2 and I have no complaints whatsoever about it. I have heard at least one person say that AMD processors are better (At least for laptops). You might try looking up comparison tables and see which one seems better for you.

Lupy
2009-06-07, 04:40 PM
I have done so, but I was hoping for some individual reviews and opinions. The trouble with New-egg or Tiger Direct reviews is that random idiots write most of them without buying the product.

bluewind95
2009-06-07, 04:48 PM
I can only give you a personal account of mine (which is a dual-core). It's great. It's fast, doesn't heat up as much as my Intel (on my older laptop) did, and has, in general, given me no trouble whatsoever. I think part of the price in the Intel is the name. I don't think you'll see much of a performance difference in practice. What does an equivalent Intel cost, anyways?

Lupy
2009-06-07, 08:08 PM
Intel doesn't have an equivalent model, the cache is much larger.

Jack Squat
2009-06-07, 08:17 PM
The problem with multicore processors is that they're not often utilized to their fullest extent. I don't know how well Win7 handles delegating (I would imagine fairly well), but I know a lot of programs are written for single processors, and there isn't a way to convert single-core programs to work on multicores without re-writing them to work. I haven't researched if Win7 will efficiently distribute programs to the separate cores or not, but it is something to look into.

Of course, if the computer will be used for gaming, there's not really a reason not to get it, as that's pretty much where all the civvie pioneering is happening with multicores..

Rawhide
2009-06-07, 08:25 PM
You should check the genuine hardware review sites:
www.tomshardware.com
www.anandtech.com
www.sharkyextreme.com
www.overclockers.com
www.overclockers.com.au
www.dansdata.com

To name a few of the highly reputable sites.

The Valiant Turtle
2009-06-07, 11:14 PM
I also recommend the Ars Technica System Guides (http://arstechnica.com/hardware/guides/2009/04/ars-technica-system-guide-april-2009-edition.ars). Ars isn't really a hardware review site, but their system guide is a great distillation of the current recommendations. Their hardware forums are also exceptional.

My summary of the current state of things is that Intel still dominates the top with the Core i7 processors. If you can afford an i7, get it. But if you can't afford one of those AMD is extremely strong right now. The Phenom II's are exceptional processors for the money as are all the slightly lower end derivatives (anything built on a 45nm manufacturing process). There might be a few other price points where Intel still bests them, but not many. If the processor you are looking at is an original Phenom (as opposed to a Phenom II) do not get it, get whatever Phenom II you can afford, even if it's not a quad-core and you'll be much happier.

If you can't afford a Phenom II X4 take a good look at the X3 models. They have 3 cores and have been very impressive. Windows has decent support for multi-core processors from XP forward (2K had some as well) and will usually assign applications to the least used cores to make the most of things. Games are one area where many people still recommend you stick with the fastest dual core you can get as very few games make much use of multiple cores, but that is beginning to change and the spare cores can be running other processes (anything from anti-virus to voice chat programs) so the game can fully use whatever cores it needs. In my opinion more and more games will be muti-core capable in the future so I recommend a quad-core or tri-core if you can swing it. If you can't it's not really a big deal though.

One upgrade I seriously recommend looking into is getting a Solid State Drive (SSD). They are starting to come down in price and can make a noticeable impact in how fast things start up. Anandtech.com has been covering SSDs extensively and I recommend you research them there.

--Laptop stuff--

Contrary to the previous posts laptops are one area I would probably still recommend Intel, simply because it takes longer for the manufacturers to build laptops with the newer tech. If you can get a laptop with a 45nm AMD processor I'm sure it would be great. I just don't think they're out yet. Most laptops are probably still going to be the previous generations tech and Intel's Core 2 Duos generally ran slightly better than similar chips from AMD and often used less power as well.

On the other hand, with a laptop I usually recommend getting the best graphics your budget allows. AMD will generally win here as their integrated graphics are generally better than Intel. Everything else in a laptop could be upgraded later on, but the graphics in a laptop are usually absolutely impossible to upgrade. The CPU is the toughest other upgrade and I wouldn't recommend most people to try it themselves.

Dispozition
2009-06-07, 11:28 PM
In personal experience, Intel are a hell of a lot more reliable. But since I'm a gamer, I bust my CPUs a fair bit so the extra price is worth it for overclocking and reliability.

If you have the money, get an I7, they're the best cpu out there right now and will probably stay that way for a while. If you don't have the money, the Q6600 is certainly one of the better and cheaper quad cores. I have one and you can overclock it a fair bit and still have it reliable and at decently low temps as well it just being a good processor. I can't vouch for phenom IIs, but I know that the Q6600 beats an AMD Phenom with the same clock (2.4ghz)

randman22222
2009-06-07, 11:49 PM
My brother's on a Phenom. Too bad he doesn't know a thing about computers past how to get DotA up and running. :smallsigh:

However, when he first put it together, I opened up some more intensive programs to see how it went; video editing stuff... His computer certainly did what I asked it to, and way faster than the other computers I've tried it on. As far as reliability goes, he's had the computer a bit over half a year, and has had no problems with it, despite having really bad cooling. It's probably running way too hot. :smalleek:

Krytha
2009-06-08, 12:07 AM
However, when he first put it together, I opened up some more intensive programs to see how it went; video editing stuff... His computer certainly did what I asked it to, and way faster than the other computers I've tried it on. As far as reliability goes, he's had the computer a bit over half a year, and has had no problems with it, despite having really bad cooling. It's probably running way too hot. :smalleek:

How hot is too hot? Im dual booting winxp on a macbook pro and it gets reaaallly warm sometimes - to the point of constant auto shut-downs.

bluewind95
2009-06-08, 12:11 AM
How hot is too hot? Im dual booting winxp on a macbook pro and it gets reaaallly warm sometimes - to the point of constant auto shut-downs.

THAT is too hot. You should get a cooler mat for that poor macbook.

Lupy
2009-06-08, 12:19 AM
You should check the genuine hardware review sites:
www.tomshardware.com
www.anandtech.com
www.sharkyextreme.com
www.overclockers.com
www.overclockers.com.au
www.dansdata.com

To name a few of the highly reputable sites.

Thank you for the links!
My google-fu is weak today...
And thank you to everyone else as well.

Dispozition
2009-06-08, 12:37 AM
How hot is too hot? Im dual booting winxp on a macbook pro and it gets reaaallly warm sometimes - to the point of constant auto shut-downs.

If it's over 50C idle then it's too hot. My quadcore hits 60C max, overclocked and with stock cooling in a case with not-so-great airflow.

If it's auto-shutting down, it's getting hot to the point of damaging the cpu and motherboard, as well as possibly other components of the laptop. I'd be trying to cool that sucker down, a lot.

Crispy Dave
2009-06-08, 01:23 AM
I just bought an Athlon 7750 Kuma and it is awesome.

randman22222
2009-06-08, 01:39 AM
How hot is too hot? Im dual booting winxp on a macbook pro and it gets reaaallly warm sometimes - to the point of constant auto shut-downs.

If it auto shut-downs, that's too hot. :smallwink:

Winter_Wolf
2009-06-08, 03:20 AM
How hot is too hot? Im dual booting winxp on a macbook pro and it gets reaaallly warm sometimes - to the point of constant auto shut-downs.

Let me tell you a little story about my experience with too hot. My laptop had scorch marks all inside the casing when I opened it up to diagnose a problem with it: auto shutting down with severe graphical glitches. If your laptop isn't fried already, get a cooling mat of the highest quality you can afford. It's less expensive than a new computer. Never fixed the laptop, it was so expensive that it made more sense to buy a new computer instead.

Edit: I had a single core AMD but two high end graphic cards in SLI, which by the way is NOT a smart choice in a laptop. :smallannoyed:

Krytha
2009-06-09, 12:59 AM
Yeah, Im worried about frying it. I read somewhere that Bootcamp doesn't actually turn the fan on for winxp, although I could never get it confirmed. Has anyone heard of anything of the sort?

bluewind95
2009-06-09, 07:14 AM
Yeah, Im worried about frying it. I read somewhere that Bootcamp doesn't actually turn the fan on for winxp, although I could never get it confirmed. Has anyone heard of anything of the sort?

I really, really doubt that is the case. I don't think a computer is even supposed to turn on if the fan is off. Basically, doing so is a great way to fry it and I don't think Apple would dare sell/give a product that would be sure to fry your computer. And no fan = frying your computer, and bad. You can confirm it yourself, though, basically by just listening for it. If you hear the whirring little sound, that's the fan.