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AMD Athlon II X4 635 & Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
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by Rob Williams on February 18, 2010 in AMD Processors

AMD last month launched five processor models, three Athlon II’s and two Phenom II’s, and we’re taking a look at one of each. The Phenom II is a 3.20GHz dual-core, and a Black Edition dual-core at that, while the Athlon II is the ultra-affordable 2.9GHz quad-core. Let’s see how both stack up to the rest of AMD’s line-up, and the competition.

Workstation: Autodesk 3ds Max, Cinebench, POV-Ray

Autodesk’s 3ds Max is without question an industry standard when it comes to 3D modeling and animation, with DreamWorks, BioWare and Blizzard Entertainment being a few of its notable users. It’s a multi-threaded application that’s designed to be right at home on multi-core and multi-processor workstations or render farms, so it easily tasks even the biggest system we can currently throw at it.

For our testing, we use two project files that are designed to last long enough to find any weakness in our setup and also allows us to find a result that’s easily comparable between both motherboards and processors. The first project is a dog model included on recent 3ds Max DVD’s, which we infused with some Techgage flavor.

Our second project is a Bathroom scene that makes heavy use of ray tracing. Like the dog model, this one is also included with the application’s sample files DVD. The dog is rendered at an 1100×825 resolution, while the Bathroom is rendered as 1080p (1920×1080).

Cinebench R10

Like 3DS Max, Cinema 4D is another popular cross-platform 3D graphics application that’s used by new users and experts alike. Its creators, Maxon, are well aware that their users are interested in huge computers to speed up rendering times, which is one reason why they released Cinebench to the public.

Cinebench R10 is based on the Cinema 4D engine and the test consists of rendering a high-resolution model of a motorcycle and gives a score at the end. Like most other 3D applications on the market, Cinebench will take advantage of as many cores as you can throw at it.

POV-Ray 3.7

Similar to Cinebench, the “Persistence of Vision Ray Tracer” is as you’d expect, a ray tracing application that also happens to be cross-platform. It allows you to take your environment and models and apply a ray tracing algorithm, based on a script you either write yourself or borrow from others. It’s a free application and has become a standard in the ray tracing community and some of the results that can be seen are completely mind-blowing.

The official version of POV-Ray is 3.6, but the 3.7 beta unlocks the ability to take full advantage of a multi-core processor, which is why we use it in our testing. Applying ray tracing algorithms can be extremely system intensive, so this is one area where multi-core processors will be of true benefit.

For our test, we run the built-in benchmark, which delivers a simple score (Pixels-Per-Second) the the end. The higher, the better. If one score is twice another, it does literally mean it rendered twice as fast.

The best overall competition for both of the processors we’re looking at today is Intel’s Core i3-530, but unfortunately we haven’t yet had a chance to take a look at it. We do however have one here, and hope to have a full review for it next week, to even out our overall thoughts of these two AMD CPUs here.

Compared to some of Intel’s last-gen processors, though, the AMD models here really shine. The X2 555 in particular. It costs far less than Intel’s Core 2 E8500, but outside of the ray-tracing tests, it keeps right up to pace. Likewise, the X4 635 performs admirably compared to the likes of the Q9400.