|AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE Black Edition AM3 CPU|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 09 February 2009|
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Phenom II X3 720 BE Conclusion
When I said that three cores is better than two, but not quite as good as four, there wasn't enough data to support my claim. But after watching the majority of our benchmarks prefer the Black Edition X3 720 2.8GHz processor over it's 2.6GHz quad-core sibling, my claim stands true. For many, performance may be defined as a artificial score from a synthetic benchmark. But when it comes down to it, the person who can play games, browse the Web, rip music, and update their personal finances at the same speed with one processor as they could another, I begin to become wary of how we calculate performance. If the Core i7-920 could render a better frame rate, or open my programs faster, I might easily declare the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE a subordinate CPU. Since only a few benchmarks could place the Intel processor ahead of the AMD counterparts, it seems that we must rely on other factors to define performance... such as functionality, overclock ability, and value.
AMD Is certainly happy the Phenom II processor series has launched with success, and I'm certain the battered company could use a break from its recent history of 'bad luck'. Thankfully, the Phenom II series is bug-free and constructed the way we would expect a global name to produce products. The X3 720 BE may have started it's life intended on being a quad-core, but nevertheless it's built to perform, and offers every an excellent design for hardware enthusiasts to take advantage of the larger integrated heat spreader contact surface along with unrestricted overclocking potential. Adding DDR3 support to the integrated memory controller also helps, and if anything speaks to the level of refinement by AMDs engineering team.
Functionality is one particular area in which AMDs Phenom II processor series is already ahead of the competition. The irony is that it's really only going to get better as Intel prepares to launch yet another processor on a new socket. While the AM3 socket is completely backwards compatible to AM2+ sockets, the competition is already preparing to role out yet another socket to further divide its consumer base. You could read my Final Thoughts to under the upcoming concern, but when AMD is already making strides to provide more value across its product line, it's nice to also see functionality becoming a key asset.
Although we didn't go into detail on our overclock results (which will be published separately in another article), our preliminary results indicate that the latest AM3 processors are easily capable of giving everyone the opportunity to have more for less by through unrestricted 'Black Edition' overclocking. Enthusiasts and overclockers can cool the large contact surface while pushing the Phenom II X3 720 well past its limits, while pushing the core speed higher thanks to a forgiving architecture with plenty of headroom.
As of March 2009, the individual boxed retail packages using part number HDZ720WFGIBOX appear at NewEgg for $147. Using the Benchmark Reviews price comparison tool, there were several other online retailers offering deals, too. There are tray quantities available with part number HDZ720WFK3DGI.
In conclusion, the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE processor receives my highest recommendation and approval. There aren't many applications that will utilize four processor cores, and when they do it seems that three is nearly as good. Quad-core doesn't translate into better performance, and Tri-core has proven itself superior for gaming as well computing. Take into account the phenomenal pricing and unlocked overclocking headroom, and it becomes easy to see why Black Edition HDZ720WFGIBOX has the potential to dominate both socket AM3 and AM2+ motherboards with either DDR2 or DDR3 system memory. You've probably also caught onto my repetitive reminder of how the Phenom II processors can perform so closely to the Core i7-920 in real-world computing that the added expense seems a waste; primarily because I've been using the X3 720 for a week now and have yet to notice a moment of difference between it and my Core i7 system. It's for these reasons that the X3 720 Black Edition has earned our Golden Tachometer Award.
+ Unlocked 'Black Edition' allows unrestricted overclocking
- It's hard for users to accept an odd number of cores.
Final Score: 9.2 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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