Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Summarizing the performance of the Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition processor is a relatively easy matter. The Phenom X4 9950 is the fastest desktop CPU to be released by AMD to date. Due to its 2.6GHz core clock speed, the X4 9950 is roughly 4% faster than the X4 9850 across the board. In comparison to Intel's offerings, the Phenom X4 9950 is about on par with the Core 2 Quad Q6600, trading victories depending on the test. The new Phenom X4 9350e is a little harder to categorize. As expected, due to its relatively low clock speed, the X4 9350e finished behind AMD's other quad-core offerings. It was, however, faster than the higher-clock tri-core Phenom X3 8750 in most multi-threaded benchmarks. In single-threaded applications though, the X4 9350e's 2.0GHz core clock resulted in comparatively lower performance.
The new Phenom X4 processors being released by AMD today will appeal to two totally different types of consumer. The Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition is an obvious candidate for AMD enthusiasts looking for the best CPU AMD has to offer. It's 140 W TDP means it is only suited to higher-end motherboards that can supply the necessary power, but anyone looking for a Black Edition should be pairing it with an appropriate enthusiast-class or professional series motherboard anyway.
The Phenom X4 9350e's appeal isn't quite as broad. Because AMD has a number of higher-clocked dual- and tri- core processors at a similar price point, the X4 9350e is best suited to more specific types of user. If you're a heavy multi-tasker on a budget (or regularly use multi-threaded applications), the Phenom X4 9350e's four cores will ultimately pay dividends. The CPU is particularly well suited to HTPC applications as well, due to its quad-core architecture and relatively low 65W TDP. This chip is a great match for an AMD 780G-based motherboard, and can easily be the basis of a sub-$500, eco-friendly, quad-core system when paired with the right components. On the other hand, as we saw in our power numbers, a 790FX-based platform doesn't match up well versus current Intel offerings (especially the GB board we used), in terms of performance per watt. And Intel obviously still holds onto the overall performance crown and has a number of competing offerings that are just as compelling.
In regard to pricing, the Phenom X4 9950 comes in at $235 - the same price point as the X4 9850 Black Edition. We're told the Phenom X4 9850 BE will remain at $235 as well, but only for one week. On July 7th the 9850's price drops to $205. Also note that AMD is planning to make future 9850's non-black edition parts, which means they're multipliers can't be increased. This won't happen until sometime later in the year though. Phenom X4 9350e and 9150e processors will be offered for sale at $195 and $175, respectively. That makes them two of the most affordable quad-core processor out there.
In the end, the release of these new Phenom processors further expands AMD's quad-core processor line-up with new high-end and new energy-efficient processors. With only about $60 separating AMD's highest and lowest-clocked quad-cores, however, and a smattering of tri- and dual-core chips thrown into the mix as well, choosing the right CPU for yourself can be quite a trick. AMD enthusiasts and overclockers, look to the Phenom X4 9950. But SFF aficionados or multi-taskers on a tight budget, may want to check out the Phenom X4 9350e or 9150e.