With six cores humming a 3.2GHz tune, you'd expect the Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition to sport decent multi-threading chops. You'd be right. If there's a cheaper chip that offers better performance in video encoding and other highly parallelised applications, we haven't seen it.

Less impressive, of course, is the 1090T's per-core performance. That explains why it's not so competitive in games and file decompression. OK, by those metrics it's no slouch. But even Intel's lowliest Core i5 quad-core model, the 750, has it well beaten.

One area where we had expected the 1090T to stumble is overclocking. It' only fairly recently that AMD has been able to hit decent clocks with its quad-core processors. Odds are a six-core chip based on the same production process isn't going to be a screamer.

Well, never mind the odds, because this chip will crack 4GHz with air cooling. What's more, it will do it at sane voltage settings. It's extremely impressive and lifts the 1090T from being a very useful tool for video encoding buffs to an all-round winner.

That's especially true when you consider how much cheaper the overall platform cost is when you go with AMD. This high end six-core chip drops into the same AM3 socket as any current AMD processor. Compatible motherboards are therefore cheap and plentiful.

The only slight snag is the existence of the Phenom II X6 1055T. It's quite a bit cheaper but only slightly slower. But either way, with six-core AMD you are well on the way to arguably the most cost effective computing solution currently available.

We liked:

Compared to Intel's silly-money six-core processors, the Phenom II X6 1090T BE looks preposterously cheap. But the chip itself is only part of the reason why AMD-based PCs are such great value. Thanks to AMD's single-socket strategy on the desktop, you can drop the 1090T into a £50 board and do some serious coding on the cheap.

We disliked:

As fantastic as the 1090T Black edition is, there's one chip that's even better value: the Phenom II X6 1055T. It's essentially the same chip running slightly slower for a lot less money. What both models share is a slight weediness in games.

Verdict:

At last, an AMD Black Edition chip worthy of the name. But slightly overpriced.

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