Summary: Ready to pull the trigger on a new budget CPU? If so, you'll be glad you waited, as today AMD's providing a free 100MHz speed bump on their latest dual, triple, and quad-core Athlon II CPUs. But that's not all. For the tweakers out there that love to OC, AMD's brought back the Phenom II X2. The 555 Black Edition is AMD's fastest dual-core yet, and it's based on AMD's new C3 Rev. See how the new CPUs OC and perform in today's article!
For the performance-minded gamer or OCíer on a budget, Callisto comes back from the dead with the introduction of the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition. The 555 runs at 3.2GHz, 100MHz faster than the discontinued 550, with two cores and 6MB of L3 cache. Best part of all is that itís based on AMDís new C3 revision, this is the stepping that allowed us to crank the Phenom II X4 965 beyond 4GHz when OCíing. And of course, as a Black Edition CPU, the 555 ships with an unlocked clock multiplier. Price is just $99.
Want more than two cores? Great. AMDís bumped Propus up to 2.9GHz with the Athlon II X4 635. The chip lacks an L3 cache, relying on 2MB of L2 instead, and is priced at $119.
If $100+ is too much for you to spend, but you run apps that are multi-threaded, two cores just arenít enough. In this case, AMD now offers their three-core Athlon II X3 440. This is a 3.0GHz CPU thatís based on AMDís Rana core. The 440 is priced at $84.
The most affordable CPU AMD is launching today is the Athlon II X2 255. The 255 is a 3.1GHz processor with two processing cores and 2MB of L2 cache. Itís priced at $74.
Here are the speeds and feeds of all the CPUs AMD is launching today in a nice, handy chart:
100MHz speed bumps across the board for all of the CPUs AMD is launching today. And as an added bonus, AMD isnít charging a premium for these CPUs Ė list prices are pretty much in line with AMDís existing prices. So youíre paying the same amount of money, but getting an extra 100MHz.
With its use of AMDís new C3 Revision, we were most eager to see how far we could OC our Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition processor. In general, processors using this new revision OC a little further than processors based on AMDís older C2 Revision. We managed to hit 4066MHz with our Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition last year.
The 555 was another OCíing champ. At stock voltage, we managed to hit 3958MHz. Thatís higher than the max speed we could get with Deneb CPUs exactly one year ago, and this is with no voltage adjustment!
With this in mind, we thought weíd have tons of headroom for OCíing, perhaps break through 4.2GHz, but unfortunately this didnít happen. We couldnít get the CPU to run 100% stable beyond 4080MHz. While we could boot Windows and run many apps at speeds right at 4.2GHz, we couldnít get everything to run with 100% stability until we bumped the clock speed down to 4080MHz.
The other chip we were eager to OC was the Athlon II X4 635. Unfortunately though, our particular sample wasnít an eager OCíer. We only managed to get the chip to run at 3393MHz at stock CPU voltage, an improvement of just 15%. We then cranked the voltage up, but could only get the chip to run at 3567MHz before stability became an issue. We tried higher clock speeds and voltages, but the CPU just didnít want to cooperate.
Of the three Athlon II X4 Propus CPUs weíve tested in the last four months, this chip was definitely the worst OCíer.
How did its triple-core cousin fare? Not bad. At its rather high stock voltage of 1.42V, we topped out at 3570MHz. With more voltage, we managed to squeeze another 150MHz out of the processor before stability became an issue.
We obtained the weirdest OCíing results with the Athlon II X2 255 though. At the default voltage of our particular CPU sample (1.344V), we got the processor to run at a surprising 3705MHz. However, no matter what we tried, we couldnít get the CPU to run at speeds any higher than 3795MHz, and even that required 1.525V. The CPU just didnít want to go any further.
Intel Pentium E6300
ASUS P5E3 Premium
4GB (2x2GB) OCZ Platinum @ DDR3-1066 Speeds
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB
AMD Athlon II X4 635
AMD Athlon II X3 440
AMD Athlon II X2 255
AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
2TB Seagate Barracuda XT
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Resident Evil 5
Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Far Cry 2 Ė Direct3D
Crysis Ė Direct3D
World In Conflict Ė Direct3D
Intelís strength is their mid and high-end lineup of CPUs: Core i7 800 and 900 series, Core i5-700 series. These are the CPUs that are really driving home Intelís lead over rival AMD.
Intelís latest Clarkdale CPUs are in a bit of a weird position in the sense that theyíre intended for use in budget PCs with integrated graphics, which traditionally rely on value CPUs, yet most of them arenít priced in the traditional value CPU range. The Core i5-661 we reviewed earlier this month sells for $205 on Newegg right now. Even Intelís Core i3-530 is a $125 part. Itís going to be tough for someone like a Dell or HP to squeeze that CPU into a $300 PC and still turn a decent profit. Instead theyíre going to drop in a Celeron or Pentium, and we all know how badly these CPUs perform. Our $80 Pentium E6300 routinely got beat by the Athlon II X3 440, which is comparably priced. If it werenít for the strength of the Intel brand, these chips wouldnít stand a chance against AMDís offerings.
Which brings us to AMDís strong suit: budget processors. AMD owns the sub-$120 CPU space. All of it. Here AMDís CPUs offer a wider variety of features, with two, three, and four core options, all with various levels of cache, clock speeds, and price points. They also perform better too.
Intel could compete here if they really wanted, but itís pretty clear by now that they just choose not to. After all, theyíve got a 65% CPU margin to protect now donít they?
Todayís CPU introductions from AMD donít really change this: a 100MHz speed bump just isnít big enough to really boost performance significantly. We do appreciate the fact that AMDís giving us this 100MHz speed bump for free though, and also bringing back the Phenom II X2 for those gamers and tweakers who donít want to step down to Athlon II, which lacks an L3 cache.
The bottom line is that AMD didnít need to do this, but weíll take it anyway. Think of it as a 1-month late Christmas present from AMD.
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|