Phenom II X4 processors didn’t bring the desktop performance to any revolutionary heights. Unfortunately, even new manufacturing process doesn’t let AMD design CPUs that could successfully compete against Intel solutions in all price segments. And although the clock frequencies of the new AMD processors increased significantly, their performance turned out limited by the Stars (K10) microarchitecture potential, because it boasts lower IPC than the current Intel microarchitecture. Phenom II X4 920 we have just discussed is a great illustration to everything we have just said. At its nominal 2.8 GHz it can only compete against Core 2 Quad running at 2.4 – 2.5 GHz frequencies. Only smart pricing strategy helps AMD here: they positioned Phenom II X4 920 in such a way that it turns out a little better than the identically priced Core 2 Quad models.
However, overclockers have their own perception of the situation. They are primarily interested in the processor’s ability to work in modes other than nominal. And here the new Phenom II X4 appeared much more attractive than their predecessors. We could easily overclock our Phenom II X4 920 processor by 33% clock frequency without any sophisticated cooling involved. At this frequency our CPU was on average faster than an overclocked Core 2 Quad Q8300. This result certainly makes quad-core Phenom II X4 920 a good overclocking choice in the sub-$200 price range.
However, you shouldn’t overestimate the overclocking potential of Phenom II X4 920 processor, because Core 2 Quad Q8300 is far not the strongest competitor in the Intel camp. For instance, the similarly priced Core 2 Quad Q6600 can hit much higher frequencies than Core 2 Quad Q8300, even though it belongs to the previous generation. So this processor can be on average faster than Phenom II X4 920 working at a higher frequency, too.
Another weakness of the new Phenom II X4 920 processor, which stands out more during overclocking especially, is high power consumption. According to our tests, at 3.72 GHz it falls far behind more power-efficient Intel processors from Q8000 and Q9000 series. In fact, it almost catches up with Core 2 Quad Q6600 here.
Nevertheless, we are extremely pleased with the results demonstrated by Phenom II X4 920. Although it didn’t outperform the similarly priced Core 2 Quad dramatically, we can’t say that it yields a lot to its rival, either. And it means that AMD has every chance to become quite popular among overclocking fans due to their new 45nm processors.