AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Review

ajmatson - 2010-04-16 18:13:00 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: April 26, 2010
Price: $285.00

Introduction:

Recently we saw the first desktop six-core processor reviewed here at OCC, the Intel Core i7 980X and the power that the hex-core's bring to the table. Today we are looking at AMD's offering to the six-core market, the Phenom II X6 1090T processor. The AMD Phenom II series has been strong in the mainstream market and has been providing great computing power at a lower price tag than its competitors. They have been designed to allow you to build a complete system for less then the cost of most single components from other manufacturers. This price to performance ratio has given them a good market share from gamers and enthusiasts not wanting to break the bank just to have cutting edge technology. This is the same case with the Phenom II X6 1090T processor. While the Intel six-core the 980X currently retails for $999, the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T will list for around $300 at launch, meaning that you could buy a whole system for less than the cost of the 980X alone. With a clock speed of 3.2GHz and new features such as AMD Turbo Core technology, the new Phenom II X6 1090T sounds like the CPU that everyone has been waiting for. So how well does it really do? There is only one way to tell, so let's dive in and take a look at the components and get to what everyone wants to really see...

Closer Look:

The new AMD Phenom II X6 1090T is AMD's first entry into the six-core processor market. The Phenom II X6 1090T is a socket AM3 processor clocked at 3.2GHz and is manufactured using a 45nm process. The 1090T has a total of 9MB cache which breaks down to 6MB shared L3 cache and 3MB L2 cache, 512KB per core. For memory support, the Phenom II X6 1090T, just as with other Phenom II processors, can support both DDR2 memory up to 1066Mhz and DDR3 memory up to 1333MHz. The processors runs on the HyperTransport 3.0 bus for up to 4,000MT/s full duplex. This particular processor has a maximum TDP of 125 watts and a maximum temperature threshold of 62°C. The voltage required for operation is between 1.125v to a maximum of 1.40v. One new feature that the Phenom II X6 1090T processor brings to the table is called Turbo Core. What Turbo Core does is when the processor is not needing the full power of the six cores, it will shut down half of the cores and then increase the processor speed from the stock of 3.2GHz to an increased speed of 3.6GHz on the remaining three active cores. This gives you a boost in performance when operating at less power and heat. The physical appearance of the Phenom II X6 1090T looks as any other Phenom II processor however; in the die shot below you can see the difference with the additional two cores added to the design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we have seen the processor, we can take a look at the new chipset designed to carry the CPU forward.

Closer Look:

With the new six-core processors, AMD is also releasing the new 890FX motherboard chipset. This chipset is the latest in the enthusiast class and is designed for the AM3 series processors including the new Phenom II X6. The particular board that was sent to us for testing the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T was from ASUS. This board is the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula and just from the looks of it, is quite impressive. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula uses the above mentioned 890FX Northbridge and the SB850 Southbridge to control the board and provide the speeds needed to push your system to the limits. The Crosshair IV Formula is part of the ROG series, which stands for Republic of Gamers. ASUS has designed this series for hardcore enthusiasts. The ROG boards are manufactured using top-quality components that are constructed to be pushed to the limits, giving you the best performance and the longest life from your purchase. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula uses the same red and black color scheme we have seen on other ROG based boards. As with other Republic of Gamers boards, ASUS has included several nice features designed to help you get the most of your investment which we will see a little more below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the back panel on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard there are enough connections for everything you might need. Starting from the top there is one PS/2 Keyboard port for legacy support, six USB 2.0 ports (black colored ports), two USB 3.0 ports (blue colored ports), a clear CMOS button, an optical audio port, a firewire 800 port, an eSATA port, the audio jacks, and the ROG Connect USB port and switch. The ROG Connect feature on some of the newer Republic of Gamers boards from ASUS allows you to tune your motherboard settings using another computer such as a netbook on the fly without having to use resources on the overclocked computer giving you the ability for finer tuning.

 

 

Moving on down the motherboard we get to the expansion slots. Right off the bat you can see the four red PCI Express x16 slots that the Crosshair IV Formula has. This design allows you to run up to quadfire with four single GPU ATI graphics cards such as the 5800 series. The first and third PCI Express x16 slots will operate at x16 for single or dual card configurations and for a three card setup, slot one will run at x16 while slots two and three will opperate at x8 speeds. The fourth slot while an x16 slot only opperates at x4 speeds. In addition to the x16 slots, there are two black PCI slots which support legacy hardware such as sound cards.


The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard supports socket AM3 processors including the Athlon II, Phenom II and Sempron 100 series up to six cores. The board uses a 10+1 phase power design for clean voltage to your CPU for maximum overclocking and stability. There is plenty of space to work around the processor socket which should make no problems for large heatsinks or water cooling setups. For memory, the board supports up to 16GB of DDR3 memory, 4GB per slot, with a maximum speed of 1866MHz when overclocked. ASUS has the memory slots on the Crosshair IV Formula staggered as we recently saw in their 890GX motherboard. This design makes it easier to install memory with larger heatsinks when using only two slots since they are not right up against each other. Each channel are different colors, making the red slots one channel and the black slots the second channel. ASUS recommends populating the red slots first for better performance.

 

Getting down to the bottom of the motherboard is where the headers and switches are for operation and expansion. Starting from the bottom left, there is the front panel audio connector, an SPDIF connector, a firewire header, Turbo Key II switch, Core Unlocker switch, Power switch, Reset switch, three USB 2.0 headers, the OC Station headers, clear CMOS headers and front panel system headers. Moving up the right side of the board, there are seven SATA 6.0GB/s ports, the six red ones are controlled by the SB850 Southbridge chip and the one black one is controlled by the JMicron JMB363 chip. There is also the Go Button for automatic memory setting, the post LED's which alert you to any hardware troubles during start up and the ProbIt contacts which let you check voltage in real time using a voltmeter.

 

 

 

A couple of special items I want to point out on the board are some of the enhancements that ASUS has included for end users to get the best performance out of their product. The first is the inclusion of USB 3.0 which we have seen more and more of lately. This new standard provides transfer speeds up to 4.8Gbps. The USB 3.0 controller for the ASUS Crosshair IV is manufactured by NEC just as we have seen on other recent motherboards. The next feature I want to point out is the iROG chips on the board. iROG is a hardware based management system which allows you to have better control and monitoring over your system for fine tuning and temperature control.

 

 

To keep the Crosshair IV Formula cool, ASUS has employed a unique heatsink and heatpipe design. The aluminum fin style heatsink over the voltage area of the board allows the components to remain stable during high overclocks. Connected with a small heatpipe that leads to the Northbridge heatsink which uses the same space style fin design as the voltage heatsink. Another heatpipe runs down to the Southbridge heatsink which is a square, smaller fin design. The shape and style of the heatsinks allow the air flowing over them to be disrupted causing more air pressure and subsequently better cooling for the components.

 

 

Now that we have seen the CPU and supporting chipset, we can move on to the testing phase.

Specifications:

 

Model Number:
Phenom II X6 1095T
Clock Frequency:
3.2GHz
Boost Frequency:
3.6GHz
Max TDP:
125 watts
Cache Size:
L1 Cache 64K (each for Instruction + Data)
L2 Cache: 512KB per core (3MB Total)
L3 Cache: 6MB Shared L3
Process Technology:
45-nanometer SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
HyperTransport Technology Links:
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Memory:
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller with speeds: Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory:
support unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
Die Size:
45nm = 346mm2
Packaging:
Socket AM3 - 938-pin organic micro Pin Grid Array (micro-PGA) (Backwards compatable with AM2+ 940-pin)

 

 

 

Features: 

Testing:

Since the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T is part of a new platform the motherboards in the testing setups will vary according to the processor. All other hardware will be kept the same and run at the same speeds, timings, latencies, and voltages throughout the testing to ensure that the scores are as accurate as possible. I will be running a series of video and scientific benchmarks designed to gauge the hardware and allow us to see the performance. To get an idea on how it compares I will be putting the scores up against a number of other processors so that you can see how it runs among the mainstream and performance CPU's available.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Testing Setup AMD AM3 Comparison CPU's:

 

Testing Setup: Intel Core i7 Socket 1366

  

Testing Setup: Intel Core i5 Clarksdale Socket 1156

 

Testing Setup: Intel Core i5/i7 Socket 1156

 

Comparison CPUs:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

The AMD Phenom II X6 1090T is a "Black Edition" processor which means that it has an unlocked multiplier which makes overclocking and obtaining the highest possible stable clock speeds easier then ever. Since the multiplier makes the most difference, I set out overclocking the CPU using the multiplier first. I raised the multiplier higher and higher until the system became unstable then I backed it down to the last stable setting. Next I did the same with the bus speed until I reached a stable harmony between both. I was able to boot at 4.2GHz however; the system was not benchmark stable so I backed it down a bit to 4.11GHz and ran Prime 95 for one hour to make sure the system was stable before performing any benchmarks. During the Prime 95 run, the temperature almost maxed out, however; it never faulted and kept running smooth as can be. For the overclocked tests, the final speed is 4.11GHz (205x20) at 1.476v. One side note, I want to point out is that CPUz shows this CPU as a 1095T however; this is an error with the program and the CPU is a 1090T model number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Bibble 5
  4. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  5. POV Ray 3.7
  6. PCMark Vantage Professional
  7. Sandra XII
  8. ScienceMark 2.02
  9. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  10. HD Tune 3.50
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World At War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built in benchmark as a comparison.

 

ZIP:

 

Lower is Better

 

RAR:

 

Lower is Better

 

Bibble 5:

 

In Apophysis, which relys on clock speed, the 1090T was in the middle of the comparison CPUs. For the WinRAR tests the 1090T was faster then the other AMD processors, but lacked when compared to some of the higher end Intel processors with their high cache sizes and HyperThreading.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB MIcrosoft Excel speadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symetric MultiProcessing) enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.

Higher Is Better

 

PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual CPU to see which CPU, if any, rises above the others.

 

For the Office Excel benchmark, again the 1090T was the fastest of the AMD processors but a bit behind some of the Intel processors. POV Ray however; turned the tables coming in second only to the Intel 980X. For PCMark Vantage I was surprised to see how low it scored even being beaten by the AMD Phenom II X4 965 CPU.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Following suit, the Phenom II X6 1090T still sat between the other AMD processors and the Intel processors in the Sandra tests.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

Higher is Better

 

CineBench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

Higher is Better

 

CineBench 11.5 is the latest iteration of this popular benchmark that features a new look to the interface. This test now has a simple GPU and CPU test built in.

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Surprisingly in the Sciencemark benchmark, the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T had the top score even beating out the Intel 980X this time. In both the Cinebench 10 and newer Cinebench 11 benchmarks, the 1090T droped back to the middle position bethween the comparisons as well as with the HD Tune tests.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km squared of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Far Cry 2 benchmark the 1090T took the top spot between all the CPUs tested.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way, there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even overclocked, all of the CPUs showed about the same performance.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the story line, will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Bioshock, the scores were right in between the Intel and other AMD processors, showing a bit of performance increase from the past Phenom II CPUs.

Testing:

Activision's Call Of Duty World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

While a bit behind the 980X, the scores were right on with all of the other comparison processors.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion, you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse as starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While all of the processors were close, the 1090T matched the 980X as the resolution grew.

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks, since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the numbers were close with the 980X, beating the Phenom II X6 buy a small margin.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters, and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have the same pattern, with the numbers really close.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 3DMark06, the Phenom II X6 1090T took second place each time and just slightly behind the 980X.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the newer 3DMark Vantage, the 1090T was in the top few, only trailing behind by a small margin.

Extras:

When the Phenom II Series released, we saw the introduction of the Dragon platform which brought together key system components designed to work together in a sort of sync, providing maximum performance. With the correct components together, the platform allows the best price to performance ratio that money can buy. The Dragon platform consisted of the Phenom II X4 processor, a 790FX motherboard and a 4800 series ATI graphics card. Now with the release of the Phenom II X6 1090T, we have a newly designed platform which uses the Phenom II X6 processor, the new 890FX based motherboard chipset with the faster USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gb/s interfaces and the blazing fast 5800 series ATI graphics cards. The Leo Platform is designed to allow you get get the best speed for the least amount of money by combining components designed to work the best together.

To give you an idea of the combined power of the Leo Platform I ran some benchmarks combining all of the components of the platform design. For the testing setup I used the same setup as before but I replaced the graphics card with an XFX Radeon HD 5870 and ran some of the tests that gauge the system as a whole as well as a few video benchmarks. Since our current test bed does not use this series of components there are no comparison numbers to show side by side but I did want to show you how it runs together as a platform which is why I included these numbers in this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition since the platform and video card is DirectX 11 compliant I loaded Windows 7 Professional onto the hard drive and ran the Heaven 2.0 Benchmark to show how the system together runs with DirectX 11. The Heaven 2.0 Benchmark runs and gives two scores, one for average frames per second and the second is the overall assigned score. For this benchmark the higher the numbers the better.

 

There is a quick look at the new Leo Platform for you to drool on.

Conclusion:

The performance of the new AMD Phenom II X6 1090T needs to be looked at not only in raw numbers but as a whole product. While clock for clock, speed for speed, the Intel i7 980X brings the 1090T to its knees, but if you factor in the costs of each one and the price to performance ratio then they start to equal out. The current pricing for the Intel 980X is about $999 just for the processor and when released the Phenom II X6 1090T will cost only around $285 which is almost a quarter of the price of the 980X. For that price, you could also add all of the components of the Leo Platform including the motherboard and a 5800 series graphics card, so comparing apples to apples is fine if the apples cost the same. If you look at the price per core, the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T calculates to about $50 per core versus about $166 per core for the Intel i7 980X. Disable all but two of the Intel cores and run the tests and I bet that the AMD Phenom II X6 price for price will take away the competition.

When it comes to gauging the performance among similarly priced processors, the six cores of the 1090T start to shine. When benchmarked, the 1090T was able to keep up or beat the majority of the quad core processors and even topped the 980X a few times. If you compare it to its Phenom II counter parts, then this is a major step up from the quad cores such as the Phenom II X4 965. Also compared to some of the higher end Intel Quad Cores, the Phenom II X6 1090T shows improvement. When it came to overclocking, especially with the unlocked "Black Edition" multiplier, the Phenom II X5 1090T was quite simple. Just find the maximums that you can remain stable at with the correct voltage and you are good to go. Overall I was quite happy with the performance of the Phenom II X6 1090T especially when it came to multi-threaded applications, which is what this processor was designed for. While not a ground breaker like the Intel i7 980X, it is not a wallet breaker either. For the price that the Phenom II X6 1090T is going to retail for, you would be a fool not to pick one up for your next AMD build or upgrade.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: