AMD Phenom 9900
- Solid 3D rendering performance, ran reliably at 2.86GHz, runs very quietly when paired with a motherboard that has dynamic fan control
- There are many reported BIOS issues with Phenom so wait until these are resolved before investing, we couldn't get it to work on an older AM2 socket-based motherboard
It's worth considering the Phenom 9900 if you want to extract top performance out of your existing AMD-based system, but the upgrade path might not be a smooth one. Wait until the motherboard manufacturers iron out any BIOS issues before investing in it.
Best Deals (Selling at 2 stores)
The Phenom won't turn heads with its performance, but this 9900 model is a top upgrade option for users who already have AM2 socket-based AMD systems -- or is it? More on that later. It'll boost productivity and 3D rendering performance noticeably over a similarly configured dual-core Athlon 64 X2 and its four cores will supply extra venom over a dual-core Athlon when running more than two applications simultaneously.
We've covered the technological benefits of the Phenom before, so click on our review of the Phenom X4 9600 to find out how it differs from Intel's Core 2 offering; the 9900 does have a couple of differences compared to other CPUs in the Phenom family. Firstly, it employs a faster speed for its memory controller (2GHz, as opposed to 1.8GHz) and it has a faster full duplex HyperTransport 3.0 connection (4GHz, as opposed to 3.6GHz). That said, if you're in the market for a new PC, the Phenom's overall performance in today's productivity applications isn't likely to make you want to go the AMD route -- comparable Intel Core 2-based systems are still faster.
The Phenom 9900 runs at 2.6GHz, which is 300MHz faster than the 9600, and has four cores. A BIOS updated might be needed to get the CPU detected in existing AM2 socket-based motherboards. We had trouble getting the CPU to work on an older ASUS motherboard -- the M2N32-SLI, which uses the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset -- so AMD's claims of the Phenom being an easy upgrade for existing users haven't been proven by us yet. The CPU did work on the ASUS M3A32-MVP and Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-DQ6 boards, and we used the latter for our testing.
Running at its default speed of 2.6GHz, the Phenom 9900 scored 97 in WorldBench 6, which is about 8 per cent faster than what the Phenom 9600 CPU scored with an identical supporting cast of hardware. In the iTunes MP3 encoding test, it recorded 1min 15sec, which is 9sec quicker than the 9600 CPU, and in the Cdex MP3 encoding test it recorded 1min 39sec, which is 15sec faster than what the 9600 CPU could muster.
When we overclocked the 9900 to 2.86GHz, its performance scaled well. The extra 260MHz achieved an overall performance boost of 7 per cent, which is only 1 per cent less than the advantage gained when going from 2.3GHz to 2.6GHz (8 per cent). Our test platform remained stable at 2.86GHz, but it wasn't capable of going much higher. We used the standard AMD cooler for our tests, so we're not complaining.
For 3D rendering, we pulled the CPU frequency back to 2.6GHz, and the 9900's performance proved to be competitive. It was able to render four simultaneous threads in the Blender test in just 41sec. This is identical to the rendering time that an Intel Core 2 Quad 6600 CPU (which has a 2.4GHz clock speed) achieved running a comparable hardware configuration.
To produce these performance results, the 9900 will consume more electricity than the 9600; AMD states 140W for the 9900, which is about 40W more than the 9600.
The Phenom 9900 will command a much higher price than the 9600 so it's really aimed at users who want to perform taxing tasks, such as 3D rendering, in the least amount of time.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 3 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 4 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
- 5 Telstra Wi-Fi 4GX Advanced III review: Testing the world's first 600Mbps wireless hotspot
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Corsair's K70 RGP Rapidfire features new gaming-focused Cherry MX switches
- Intel axes 12,000 jobs as it looks to break away from PCs
- The Asus ROG GT51CA has a weird ROG Band wearable that unlocks a hidden hard drive
- HP wants to turn your Mac into a 44-core Windows PC
- New Ninja desktops roar with Intel's 72-core supercomputing chip
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCSolution ArchitectQLD
- CCSr. Iteration ManagerVIC
- CCSenior Analyst, Applications - GDWVIC
- FTDigital Account Manager - Online MediaNSW
- CCTechnical ExpertVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst, Loyalty projectsNSW
- CCContract Systems Analyst (C++/JAVA/SQL) 160505/SA/971Asia
- CCSenior IT Business AnalystVIC
- CCServiceNow / SACM ConsultantNSW
- FTChange Lead- DigitalVIC
- CCInfra Project Manager-Data Center, Cloud, Storage, NetworkNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystACT
- FTSQL DeveloperNSW
- CCSql Server Database Administrator (SAP)QLD
- CCSystem admin with SQL server experience | Defence-wide project | NV1 neededACT
- CCSCCM - SCOM - AD Systems EngineerNSW
- CCPortfolio Manager - Customer Service SystemVIC
- CCSAP BW developerVIC
- CCSenior Project Manager - HealthcareVIC
- CC.NET Developer (Application production Support)NSW
- FTSenior iOS DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Business Intelligence ManagerNSW
- CCInteraction & Visual - Web DesignerNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystSA
- CCHyperion ConsultantNSW