As the three tests in our Media Benchmarks run a variety of applications, each of which scale across a different number of CPU cores, the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition proved to have quite variable performance.
For example, despite Turbo Core, it proved slightly slower than the X4 965 BE in both the single-threaded and lightly multi-threaded image editing and multi-tasking tests, racking up scores of 1,087 and 1,023 respectively, versus 1,112 and 1,046. However, in the highly multi-threaded video encoding test the X6 1090T BE sailed past the X4 965 BE, with a score of 1,992 versus 1,720.
That said, despite its two additional cores the X6 1090T BE was unable to conquer Intel's Core i7-930, which scored 1,266 in the image editing test, 2,257 when video encoding and 1,498 when multi-tasking.
However, the X6 1090T BE did manage to snag pole position in the 3D rendering benchmark Cinebench R10, with a great score of 18,671, versus 14,370 from the X4 964 BE and 17,009 from the i7-930.
WPrime told a similar tale, with the X6 1090T BE once again sneaking ahead of the other two CPUs, with a compelling score of just 7.909 seconds. Clearly, for very heavily multi-threaded tasks the X6 1090T BE has a real advantage over its quad-core competitors, whether they have Hyper-Threading or not.
Although the X6 1090T BE has the same 125W TDP as the X4 964 BE, it does consume a fair bit more power, 104W when idle versus 83W. Still, both AMD chips are less power hungry than the i7-930, which drew 124W. However, the X6 1090T BE proved much more power efficient than the X4 965 BE - despite having six cores fully loaded the test system consumed only 195W rather than the 207W when the four-core CPU was installed. The i7-930 system consumed 216W though, which means that it's very power efficient (it's a faster CPU and yet only draws a few extra Watts of power)
One area where lots of cores doesn’t really help is gaming, as so few titles make full use of four cores, let alone six. Thus, despite its larger number of cores (six versus four) and higher clock speed (3.2GHz versus 2.8GHz), as the Nehalem architecture at the heart of the i7-930 has such a higher IPC (Instructions per Clock) than the K10 architecture at the core of the X6 1090T BE, the i7-930 is still the best gaming CPU.
For example, in Crysis the X6 1090T BE could only manage a jerky 23fps minimum frame rate, compared to the silky smooth 30fps of the i7-930. Interestingly, the X4 965 BE produced the same minimum frame rate as the X6 1090T BE, but had a slightly higher average frame rate; 46fps, versus 43fps. The i7-930 also took the lead in X3: Terran Conflict, with a minimum frame rate of 43fps, versus 38fps from the X6 1090T BE and 41fps from the X4 964 BE.
Despite being an astonishing £600 cheaper than the exorbitantly-priced Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, the X6 1090T BE still isn’t a very good buy. That’s because despite being clocked at a respectable 3.2GHz and having a useful auto-overclocking feature in Turbo Core, it’s based on a comparatively old architecture – K10, which is in reality only a tweaked version of the ancient K8 architecture dating way back to 2003.
As a result, the X6 1090T BE really struggles to keep up with the similarly priced Intel Core i7-930, which has was noticeably faster in six of our eight benchmarks thanks to its far more modern Nehalem architecture. The only exception to this was our Cinebench and WPrime tests, indicating that the X6 1090T BE may be worth considering for a low cost graphics workstation. However, even then, the i7-930 retook pole position when both CPUs were overclocked to their air-cooled maximum frequency.
Ultimately, despite being a good step forward for AMD, the i7-930 still remains our first choice CPU in the £200-£250 price range. Only if you have a compatible AMD motherboard and just want to upgrade the CPU should you look to buy the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition.