The folks at AMD keep, er, chipping away at Intel’s lead in the CPU market by finding new ways to price and package their quad-core Phenom processors so they offer compelling value propositions. Their latest move on that front comes today with the introduction of several new Phenom models, including the energy-efficient Phenom X4 9350e and 9150e. The lower-case "e" at the end of their model numbers denotes energy efficiency, and in this case, that translates into a 65W maximum power draw rating, or TDP, for both products. The X4 9350e runs at 2GHz, and the 9150e clocks in at 1.8GHz.
AMD points out that Intel doesn’t yet offer any quad-core processors for under 200 bucks, and even the 45nm Core 2 Quad 9300 has a TDP rating of 95W. That puts the new Phenoms into a category all their own—a category that may appeal to builders of home theater PCs and the like, especially in conjunction with the 780G chipset. AMD has been shipping a Phenom X4 9100e to PC makers for a while now, but these CPUs will be selling to end users, as well.
Also new today is a slightly faster flagship, the Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition, which finally reaches the 2.6GHz core clock frequency AMD forecast last November when it seeded reviewers with 2.6GHz review samples. Of course, early Phenoms saw their share of delays for multiple reasons, including the infamous TLB erratum. Happily, all of the Phenom models introduced today are based on B3-revision silicon, which is free and clear of the TLB problem. Like prior Black Editions, the X4 9950 has an overclocking-friendly unlocked multiplier.
The introduction of these new Phenoms means some pricing changes for the rest of the lineup, as well.
|Model||Clock speed||North bridge
|Phenom X3 8450||2.1GHz||1.8GHz||3||95W||$125|
|Phenom X3 8650||2.3GHz||1.8GHz||3||95W||$145|
|Phenom X3 8750||2.4GHz||1.8GHz||3||95W||$175|
|Phenom X4 9150e||1.8GHz||1.6GHz||4||65W||$175|
|Phenom X4 9350e||2.0GHz||1.8GHz||4||65W||$195|
|Phenom X4 9550||2.2GHz||1.8GHz||4||95W||$175|
|Phenom X4 9650||2.3GHz||1.8GHz||4||95W||$195|
|Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition||2.5GHz||2.0GHz||4||125W||$205*|
|Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition||2.6GHz||2.0GHz||4||140W||$235|
Prices have dropped almost across the board, with the triple-core Phenom X3 now reaching as low as $125. The energy-efficient parts command a bit of a premium over their 95W counterparts, of course, but the 9150e still lists for just $175.
The Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition takes a very different path to its destination, seeking higher frequencies at the cost of a 140W TDP rating—15W above the previous top Phenom. This processor will require fairly beefy cooling, and like some 125W Phenoms, it won’t be compatible with lower-end Socket AM2/AM2+ motherboards. AMD recommends enthusiast-class boards like the MSI K9A2 Platinum and the Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe for this one.
If that additional 15W puts you off, you may be pleased to learn that AMD will be keeping the Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition around as an unlocked model for the time being; it will transition to a conventional, locked model at some point, but not until later this year. We have an asterisk next to the $205 price for the 9850 Black Edition in the table above because that price won’t officially take effect until July 7th. Once it does, the 9850 Black Edition should continue to be one of the best deals in the Phenom lineup.
We do have reviews of these processors planned, but we’ve been buried in GPUs for the past couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more in the not-too-distant future.