It is hard to pass a single judgment on Phenom II given the market it will occupy. Core i7, for the most part, will be above Phenom II’s price range leaving Intel’s Q9550 and E8600 processors as its primary opponents. It is unfortunate that I no longer have a Yorkfield processor but comparing Phenom II against Core i7 showed how strong of a contender it will be.
For the average consumer, Phenom II is a surprisingly efficient powerhouse and its power consumption numbers will only get better once all the power saving features are enabled in BIOS. It is also a relatively cheap platform, compared to Core i7. An off-the-cuff estimate, I’d say you pay 60% of the price for a Core i7 system and get 80% of the performance. For what I imagine the average consumer desires, streaming video, gaming, light photo editing and encoding, Phenom II will make a sound choice from both performance and price perspectives.
For the enthusiast and amateur overclocker, Phenom II is almost a gift in a black box. With the Black Edition Phenom II X4 940 running ~$300 with shipping, you are getting a very flexible processor that just craves to be tweaked and overclocked. It may have trouble standing up against Core i7 in sheer CPU benchmarks like Cinebench and wPrime, but for 3D applications you just might see a few surprises from Phenom II.
For the rare competitive overclocker, Phenom II brings back fond memories of the Netburst era where frequency was king and finesse was not required in pouring liquid nitrogen. With Phenom II, you can more or less throw whatever cooling you have and it’ll keep scaling. Even if Phenom II isn’t a able to knock around the Core i7 Extreme Edition, I’d go out on a limb and say it’s more fun to overclock.
If you are looking for a new CPU for an upcoming build, or looking to upgrade from an AMD AM2 or AM2+ platform, the Phenom II AM2+ CPUs may be a very good choice for you. Considering how, in many cases, simply swapping the processor could cut power consumption by a third while increasing performance by 15-25%, it’s hard to pass this up. Phenom II will definitely warrant another article exploring its overclocking potential so if you are on the fence about it, maybe that will be able to sway you.
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD Phenom II processor series processor may not be the performance winner in all the benchmarks, but it might not need to be competitive in this day and age when the price tag matters most.