It's a common aphorism that two heads are better than one, but can it be said that four cores are really better than two?

The Phenom suffers from a sloth-like 2.2GHz core clock and has just 512KB of L2 cache per core.

But, by using a lightning-fast 3,600MHz bus, and having the memory controller on the die, the Phenom has a trick or two up its sleeve.

Speedier performance

In the HD video encoding test, the 9550 actually achieved a higher framerate then Intel's top-end quad, the QX9650, and it leaves the E2180 standing.

The 3D rendering is also much better than the faster E2180, although strangely, the game scores are lower, a problem for both this and the 9850.

Still, for just a few pounds more than the E6850, the extra grunt of two more cores is money well spent.