AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition for AM3

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FINAL THOUGHTS

From a pure price/performance standpoint, AMD is certainly competing hard. The X4 955 BE closely matches Intel's Q9550, but with a smaller price-tag. One must also consider the motherboards available especially if gaming is not an issue. Full-sized AM3 ATX motherboards with decent ATI IGPs are widely available and modestly priced; for example the Asus M4A78T-E we used for testing is priced $137~160. The same cannot be said of Intel socket 775; there are few full ATX boards with good IGPs.

DDR3 memory, which is still more expensive than DDR2, has come down to the point where its not such a painful upgrade. Perhaps the best thing to come out of the release of these new processors is the accompanying price cut to the X4 940. We found the Phenom II X4 940 online for as low as $169 already, making it an truly excellent value, especially for those unwilling to switch to DDR3.

Phenom II, even on the new AM3 platform with DDR3, is still significantly power inefficient compared to Intel's offerings, at least for the range of tests we performed. Idle power was only 5W higher, but once we started running real tests, the difference grew large. The Q9650 which we underclocked to simulate a Q9550, is rated 30W higher than an actual Q9550, and it still well undercut AMD's latest in power consumption.

Undervolting the X4 955 BE to its lowest stable voltage did make up half the difference, to about 20-30W depending on the type of load used. That's not too bad, and depending on how much electricity costs in your area and your usage, it may still make a prudent economical choice. For example, at SCPR's location, an extra 25W running 12 hours a day for a year would cost about $8.60 CDN, which is peanuts for anyone considering a US$250 processor. Still, if the desire for lower power consumption in a high performance PC is environmentally-driven, then Intel remains the obvious choice.

Our thanks to AMD, ASUSTeK, and Corsair for the various product samples used in this review.

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790GX Showdown: Gigabyte vs. MSI
Phenom II: AMD pulls closer
Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX WiFi: A Compact AM2 Solution
Asus P5N7A-VM: Geforce 9300 IGP

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