AMD is still not a champ in the multi-media department. Intel decided to boost their SSE unit by doubling the frequency - which they did back with Pentium 4. AMD decided to use two separated units per core. The only problem is, there is little software supporting AMD's architecture, so most of the time the second SSE unit is idling which gives AMD quite bad scores. We would have liked to compare to an overclocked Phenom X4 9850, but while testing the VRM failed. At least three cores can overtake Intel with two cores:
The more important question is, can three cores help in games? Of course, that depends on the game, but like Crysis more and more games are using three or four threads simultaneously.
AMD is doing better nowadays, products announced do really appear. At press time, the prices for a Phenom X3 8750 and Phenom X4 9750 are exactly the same, which is ridiculous. To be on the safe side, we advise you not to use a Phenom X4 9850 ,which is only €20,- more expensive but when overclocked it may fail your VRM, except if your board is using a five or six-phase VRM design.
We see a third core does help AMD to come closer to Intel - dual cores - and even to overtake them, but due the non-existing support for two SSE units AMD still struggles. The new 45nm cores are coming in autumn, and our hope is AMD changed its mind and uses the same approach as Intel does, with only one SSE unit per core but with double the clock, otherwise AMD will end up behind again.
Wait for the next price cuts for AMD, a tri-core should not cost more than €120,- and you can grab one without hesitation. At least that will put AMD in front of the core per price ratio.