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Review: AMD's X4 9350e CPU

The Test Center examines AMD's latest, energy-efficient CPU to see how it performs, and how it holds up.

Nowhere has this been truer than with computer components. The Test Center tested one of AMD's new "e" series, energy efficient processors and saw enough distinction for it to have a position in the marketplace.

Our evaluation unit, the X4 9350e, is a 2.0Ghz Quad-Core CPU rated at a maximum 65 watt TDP. Our test system for this review was an Antec Three Hundred case, with an Antec TPQ-850 power supply. We installed the 9350e in a Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard, along with 2GB of memory, and loaded Windows Vista Ultimate onto a Hitachi Deskstar P7K500 hard drive.

As in the past, testers used Primate Labs' GeekBench2 benchmarking utility to generate scores and the Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor to measure the power draw.

When Windows finished booting up, the power usage during idle was a steady 76 watts. Under load, the system drew approximately 100 watts. Using the motherboard's integrated graphics, the final GeekBench2 score was 3470.

The first comparison test that reviewers ran was with one of AMD's recently launched Triple-Core processors -- the 2.3Ghz X3 8750 which is spec'd at 95 maximum TDP. Using the exact same setup, testers swapped out the CPUs and benchmarked again.

With the Tri-Core, power consumption was 80 watts at idle and 120 watts under load, while the GeekBench2 score was 3375.

Crossing over to the competition, we also tested Intel's Quad-Core Q6600. The Q6600 is a 2.4Ghz CPU with a max TDP of 105 watts. In a similar testbed, the Q6600 had an idle draw of 80 watts, rising up to 145 watts when used at capacity. The GeekBench2 score for this system was 3881.

With recent reductions in their CPU pricing, AMD has aligned the 9350e right in the middle of the three tested processors at $195 each per thousand. Similarly, the 8750 is now priced at $175 per thousand, and the Q6600 at $224 per thousand.

The Bottom Line: Whether the 9350e is the best choice depends on priorities. If acquisition price is the ultimate concern, the Triple-Core 8750 is probably a worthwhile option, with comparable (albeit higher) power measurements and a lower price point.

At the other extreme, if every ounce of performance is the main goal, the Q6600 is the leader in this group. With a nice balance of performance and power savings, the X4 9350e definitely fills the space left between the two.

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