As usual, AMD's new CPU lacks the performance you can get out of an Intel chip with the same number of cores, but more than makes up for it by coming in at <$300.
AMD's new Phenom is a 6 core monster that packs in almost a billion transistors into a 346mm2 die. This makes the fact that the Phenom X6 runs at the same TDP as the Phenom X4 even more impressive. To accomplish this, AMD had to drop the clock speed of the Phenom X6 by a few hundred MHz. Though slower than the Phenom X4, the fastest X6 still clocks in at 3.2GHz. Overclockers should be happy to hear that the 3.2GHz can be cranked up to 3.8GHz with little effort and the stock cooler/heatsink.
In order to boost the performance and keep the heat low, AMD decided to introduce Turbo Core. Turbo Core is AMD's answer to Intel's Turbo Boost. If at least 3 of the CPU cores on the Phenom X6 are idle, Turbo Core will decreases the clock speed of the idle cores down to as low as 800MHz, increase the voltage of all of the cores, and increase the clock speed of the active cores up to 500MHz above their default clock speed. The bottom line is that it will give you a 5%-10% boost on applications that use few threads, without overheating the core. Though good, Turbo Core is not as effective as Turbo Boost. Turbo Boost actually turns off cores instead of just underclocking them. This means that the Phenom X6 has a higher power consumption when idle than either the Intel Core i5 or i7.
Even though the Phenom X6 draws more power than its Intel rivals, it does better than its Intel counterparts for highly multi-threaded applications, such as video encoding. Overall the Phenom X6 is a great performing CPU for a low price, but in performance for intensive single threaded applications and in terms of power consumption, Intel still has AMD beat.