|AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE AM3 Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Mathew Williams|
|Tuesday, 02 June 2009|
Page 12 of 12
AMD Phenom II Final Thoughts
The AMD Phenom II X2 family of processors is a good step forward for AMD. The improved 45nm manufacturing process that helped the Phenom brand make a comeback has finally trickled down to a decent mainstream price point. The Phenom II X2 550 that we tested today will sell for $102, but as the series expands, less expensive Phenom II X2's should be right around the corner.
In terms of competition, the Phenom II X2's will be positioned directly against the Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors from Intel. Our testing today confirmed that the Phenom II X2 550 is about on par with the Intel C2D E7400. On the AMD side, the Phenom II X2's are also likely to pull some market share away from the X3's. While the X3's have the obvious advantage of an extra core, the X2's offer higher clock speeds for a lower price. For single-threaded, frequency dependent applications, these X2's may prove to be the better bargain.
It's been a while since AMD had a true dual core competitor to Intel's Core 2 Duo family, but I think it's safe to say that day has come. Throughout our tests, the AMD Phenom II X2 550 BE was able to keep up and even outpace our Intel E7400. Memory intensive benchmarks and applications, in particular, seem to favor the X2 550.
The X2 550 earns high marks in construction quality as well. At stock settings it performed without a hitch and took to our 1600MHz low-latency DDR3 instantly. Keep in mind, however, that as a new processor some BIOS updates may be necessary. Be sure to check with your motherboard manufacturer if you encounter any instability.
The good news is that this AM3 chip is backwards compatible with most AM2+ motherboards. Thanks to a 45nm process, the X2 550 is also more efficient than its predecessors, despite a considerable increase in clock speed and L3 cache. At 80W, the TDP is a bit higher than the comparable Intel E7400 (65W), but still a significant improvement over the previous 95W Kumas.
That lower TDP also means more headroom when it comes to overclocking. Thanks to the unlocked multiplier, the Phenom II X2 550 is much easier to overclock than an of Intel's dual core offerings. In just a few minutes we were able to get our X2 550 up to 3.8 GHz core speed and 2.6 GHz CPU-NB speed using basic air cooling.
When it comes to value, the Phenom II X2 550 BE is a solid winner. At only $99.99, it offers performance comparable to the more expensive Intel E7400 and can easily be overclocked to offer more.
+ Excellent price/performance ratio
- 80W TDP still higher than comparable Intel processors
Final Score: 9.4 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
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