While it has been a sort of unspoken truth that AMD has ceded the performance cup to Intel over the last couple years, they’ve instead provided an extremely compelling value option, with their processors doing nearly the work of the more expensive Intels for far less money. The new Phenom II processor was to be the keystone in AMD’s new Dragon platform, and while the other features of the platform are still great, it looks like the new processor isn’t going to bring any competition to the table.
Recent tests at two of my favorite hardware sites, TweakTown and HardOCP, put the Phenom II at just over the old Phenom, and just below Intel’s best Core2s. Ouch. If it weren’t enough that it doesn’t beat what it’s replacing by much, it can barely hit the performance levels of last year’s Intels. And that’s without mentioning the Core i7s, which of course cost twice as much, but show such a huge performance lead that you start wondering which is actually the bargain.
The rest of the Dragon suite of features is still worth looking at, though. It may still be that your system would run better with AMD hardware, depending on what you’re doing. But given the performance gap, that group is distressingly small. Here’s hoping AMD’s still-very-competitive video cards will keep them solvent until they can pull out something bigger in the processor arena.
Update: A commenter points out Anandtech’s review, which is considerably more favorable (I should have included it to begin with). Still, I see my own processor (a Core2 Duo E6750) competitive with the Phenom II on most of their tests, and that’s not exactly tops. I should also mention that the Phenom II is supposed to be a fantastic overclocker.