|AMD Phenom-II X4-980 BE Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 02 May 2011|
Page 12 of 13
AMD Phenom-II X4-980 Final Thoughts
I have to be honest. Four months after the release of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, I am a little bit disappointed to be reviewing another Phenom-II series processor. Historically, the Phenom-II X4-900 series lineup has done very well against the competition when it comes to the ratio of price/performance. With the release of the Sandy Bridge CPUs, this is no longer the case. In our testing, the Phenom-II X4-980BE wasn't able to keep up with the Intel Core i5-2500K. The K suffix means little since we used an H67 motherboard for testing, so what we are really looking at is a $195 CPU failing to compete with a $210 CPU. In my opinion, that extra $15 is worth it.
Now, it's true that you will have to spend a lot more than that to upgrade to a Sandy Bridge system, because you'll need a motherboard as well (assuming you already own DDR3 RAM). In that case, the only way the Phenom-II X4-980BE makes financial sense is if you already own an AM2+ or an AM3 motherboard and RAM and just want to go with a faster processor. Even if that is the case, I still have to recommend an older Phenom-II X4-900 series processor because the relative performance doesn't justify the price difference, especially if you plan on overclocking.
The real question is, will the purchase of the Phenom-II X4-980BE have any value at all in the coming months. AMD is close to releasing their desktop Fusion platforms. If they plan on staying competitive at all, they need to get it out here soon. At this point, I can't justify recommending buying a brand new system with AMD components. Only an upgrade of an existing system makes sense.
This is difficult for me to say because I am a big fan of the Athlon-II and Phenom-II series of processors (the Athlon-II series more so). While the Phenom-II series never provided the highest level of performance that you could find with an Intel CPU, the price made it worth it. When you broke it down to dollars and cents, anyone but a hard-core enthusiast would have been better off financially buying an AMD system. At the sub-$200 level, the best values, in my opinion, were AMD CPUs.
Even now, for a very budget-level build, an Athlon-II CPU is probably your best bet to get the most performance for around $100. I do, of course, consider the Phenom-II X4-840 and subsequent 800 series processors to be Athlon-II CPUs and not Phenom-IIs as their names suggest. At around $100 for a quad-core CPU that will do everything an entry-level user needs, these are still a great deal. Not so with the Phenom-II X4-900 series anymore.
My sincere recommendation? Save your money. I'd give AMD another quarter to get their newest product on the market. You can bet that Benchmark Reviews will be there with information on the new platform. At that point, we will see whether or not an AMD system is worth it anymore. If it takes more than another quarter to get the new platform out, I think AMD is going to be on thin ice.