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AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup

Date: 2009-2-11

   DDR3 at Last It has been a difficult time for both AMD and Intel, affected as they are by falling demand resulting from the current economic 'gloom and doom'. Intel reported dismal revenues for...

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With the launch of these five new models, AMD's AM3 socket has become reality and DDR3 has finally arrived on the AMD platform. One could say that the time is more than ripe for AMD to go DDR3, what with the prices of DDR3 memory modules almost approaching mainstream levels and the fact that Intel has had support for DDR3 for almost two years now. There are still some limitations of DDR3 on the platform, as we have mentioned, but for the most part, it only affects those with more extreme, high-end configurations in mind and if that's the case, why are you even considering AMD?

AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup
AMD's first step towards a DDR3 based platform starts with these AM3 Phenom processors.

At the moment, the Phenom II X4 940 'Black Edition' that launched earlier remains the top Phenom II and as you may know, these Phenom IIs have the Intel Yorkfield quad-cores in sight, and not so much the Core i7. These new models are similarly aimed at the mainstream and are priced below US$200. Their goals are modest, with the US$175 Phenom II X4 810 aimed at the less powerful quad-core range (Q8200) while the US$145 triple-core X3 720 'Black Edition' takes on the Intel dual-cores.

With the arrival of AM3, the cost of DDR3 memory is no longer an advantage for AMD when touting its more affordable platform. Nevertheless, one can look forward to more price cuts from Intel in the future, similar to what happened when the Phenom II X4 940/920 debuted. The US$170 Q8200 may be such a candidate (against the X4 810), though without testing that processor ourselves, we can't say for sure if the X4 810 is indeed superior.

In terms of performance, the Phenom II X4 810 and X3 720 'Black Edition' that we tested did not give us any surprises. Their results were in line with our expectations given what we have seen of the X4 940/920. Moreover, the X3 720 looks to be quite an interesting model, using its extra core to keep up with the Intel dual-cores and at the same time, making use of its higher 2.8GHz clock and larger L3 cache to edge ahead of the X4 810 for those non multi-threaded scenarios. Though we haven't tested its overclocking potential, having one less core usually allows for a better chance of further overclocking this Black Edition X3.

The other highlight of these new models is obviously their 95W maximum TDP. Compared to the 125W Phenom II which had already impressed us with its power draw, the efficiency of these 95W models is further enhanced. Our numbers have confirmed this and while Intel's mainstream quad-cores also do very well in this section, at least AMD is somewhat competitive here, particularly when the system is at idle.

Once we have gathered enough AM3 motherboards, look out for an upcoming roundup of these motherboards. In the mean time, we'll also be testing these AM3 processors on a AM3 board with DDR3 memory to find out exactly how much difference DDR3 can bring to the platform. So be sure to check back here at for more updates soon!

Our Ratings

AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup
The Phenom II X4 810.

AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup

AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup
The Phenom II X3 720 'Black Edition'.

AMD Phenom II X3/X4 Roundup

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