AMD Phenom II processors for AM3

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A chorus of reviews on the web today sing the praises of five new AMD Phenom II processors for AM3, prompting some to proclaim a new era of serious competition for Intel, the undisputed king of x86 processors for the past several years.

Anandtech - Xbitlabs - Legit Reviews - HotHardware - Benchmark Reviews - PC Perspective

The new processors are 45nm variants of the Phenom IIs we (and many other sites) tested positively a month ago, with a twist: The AMD Phenom IIs for AM3 sockets have an integrated memory controller that works with either DDR2 or DDR3. With the latter memory not yet in optimal production cycle, DDR2 memory with an existing AM2 or AM2+ board make for a very high performance combination that match and often best similarly priced Intel CPUs in much more expensive DDR3 and motherboard combinations. When DDR3 prices drop, as they surely will, a simple motherboard + memory upgrade will boost performance significantly. In contrast, the Intel i7 works only with DDR3 on quite expensive motherboards.

All testing sites reported good overclocking potential, with most of the new 95W TDP Phenom II models topping out at just under 4GHz clock speed in non-exotic cooling setups. We concur that the new lineup of Phenom IIs puts AMD solidly in the running against Intel Core 2 quad- and dual-core offerings as not only a viable but preferable lower cost option in the economic climate of the day. AMD's extremely agressive pricing has forced Intel to reduce prices on their CPU lineup by as much as 40% over the past few weeks, but the large die size of the AMD chips means that Intel's costs are far lower, and AMD can only compete on price for so long. It is imperative, therefore, for AMD to win back market share now.

The backward compatibility of the new Phenom II shows welcome sensitivity to market conditions, in contrast to Intel's i7, which requires a whole new motherbaord and DDR3, and its forthcoming i5, which requires also another non-compatible socket type. AMD's strategy may not work indefinitely but it looks pretty good for the moment, and PC enthusiasts have a wide selection of incredibly high performance CPUs for peanuts compared to anything offered in the past. Welcome back to the race, AMD!

* AMD Phenom II X4 910 - 2.6GHz, 8MB Cache - Available in tray only
* AMD Phenom II X4 810 - 2.6GHz, 6MB Cache - Available in PIB at qty price of $175
* AMD Phenom II X4 805 - 2.5GHz, 6MB Cache - Available in tray only
* AMD Phenom II X3 720 - 2.8GHz, 7.5MB Cache - Black Edition in PIB at qty price of $145
* AMD Phenom II X3 710 - 710 is 2.6GHz, 7.5MB Cache - Available in PIB at qty price of $125

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