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Phenom II X2 550 or Athlon II X4 620?

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September 22, 2009 11:38:13 AM

The new benchmarks are out for the Athlon II X4 620 and they look pretty strong (http://www.fudzilla.com/content/view/15606/1/) considering it's missing an L3 cache. I recently bought a Phenom II X2 550 and have been quite pleased with it. However, the Athlon II X4 620 is about the same price and I get 2 more cores.

I basically use my PC 95% for daily office use and web browsing (no video decoding or heavy math problems) and 5% for gaming. I am running a ATI 4890 GPU. Although I'm not a big gamer, I do want a good experience when I play. I have a 23" 1920 x 1080p monitor.

Any inputs on which way to go would be much appreciated.

P.S. I guess what I am looking for is a "clock-for-clock" real-world comparison in desktop applications and gaming. I don't really care about synthetic benchmarks as those will favor the X4 one would think.

So, if you had both these CPU's at 3.7 ghz, which would win?

More about : phenom 550 athlon 620

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a c 105 à CPUs
September 22, 2009 12:22:15 PM

mitchellvii said:
The new benchmarks are out for the Athlon II X4 620 and they look pretty strong (http://www.fudzilla.com/content/view/15606/1/) considering it's missing an L3 cache. I recently bought a Phenom II X2 550 and have been quite pleased with it. However, the Athlon II X4 620 is about the same price and I get 2 more cores.

I basically use my PC 95% for daily office use and web browsing (no video decoding or heavy math problems) and 5% for gaming. I am running a ATI 4890 GPU. Although I'm not a big gamer, I do want a good experience when I play. I have a 23" 1920 x 1080p monitor.

Any inputs on which way to go would be much appreciated.

P.S. I guess what I am looking for is a "clock-for-clock" real-world comparison in desktop applications and gaming. I don't really care about synthetic benchmarks as those will favor the X4 one would think.

So, if you had both these CPU's at 3.7 ghz, which would win?


The Athlon II X4s are supposedly not the greatest overclockers and the few reviews I've seen have only been able to push them to the mid 3 GHz range. You probably won't be able to hit 3.7 with the Athlon II X4. 550BEs have gone over 4 GHz without that much trouble. So, the question is really "if I had a Phenom II X2 550BE at 3.7 GHz and an Athlon II X4 at 3.4 GHz, which one would win?"

Secondly, you should find whether or not your 550BE unlocks to all four cores with AOD. Try to unlock it; you just might be surprised as you may end up unlocking the other two cores that are present on the 550BE's native quad-core-with-L3 (Deneb) die. Four 3.1 GHz cores and the 6 MB L3 is faster than the Athlon II X4, plus you are unlikely to be able to unlock anything in the Athlon II X4. Very few Athlon II X4s are made from Deneb dies; most are native L3-less Propus dies.

Here's roughly how it would shake out:

- The L3 cache in the Phenom II parts adds between 5-20% extra performance clock-for-clock over the Athlon II X4. The general impression was the Athlon II X4 was something between 10 and 15% slower clock for clock than the Phenom IIs.

- A stock 550BE would be about as fast core-for-core as an Athlon II X4 overclocked to its ~3.4 GHz maximum. This means the 550BE ties the Athlon II X4 in single and two-threaded tasks while the Athlon II X4 cleans up in games with three or four threads.

- A 550BE overclocked to 3.7 GHz will noticeably outrun the Athlon II X4 in single and two-threaded programs, even when the Athlon II is overclocked to 3.4 GHz.

- You would probably see a little better performance in more current games with the 550BE running at 3.7 GHz than an Athlon II X4 running at 3.4 GHz. However, games are only getting more and more core-hungry and in a couple of years, the Athlon II X4 will do better than the Phenom II X2. We went through this the first time with people deciding between 2.4 GHz/1 MB L2 Athlon 64 4000+s and 2.0 GHz/512 KB L2 Athlon 64 X2 3800+s back in the day since they were about the same price. The A64 4000+ whipped the X2 3800+ at first, but it wasn't that long afterwards that getting a single-core CPU like the 4000+ for gaming was throwing your money away.

So I would recommend that since you have the 550BE already, keep it. When you feel that it doesn't have the grunt any more, then buy a faster quad-core AM3 CPU with L3 cache and put it in your board. You should be able to buy them pretty cheaply in a couple of years.
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September 22, 2009 4:36:03 PM

Thanks MU_Engineer! Great answer!

BTW, have any idea where I can find the 0023-Mod BIOS for an Asus M3A78 MB? I have read this is the bios I need to unlock the extra cores. Thanks!
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a c 105 à CPUs
September 22, 2009 10:35:17 PM

mitchellvii said:
Thanks MU_Engineer! Great answer!

BTW, have any idea where I can find the 0023-Mod BIOS for an Asus M3A78 MB? I have read this is the bios I need to unlock the extra cores. Thanks!


I don't know. I couldn't pull up much in a quick search, but people here are discussing using the BIOSes, so at the worst you could PM one of them and they'd tell you where they got it.
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September 23, 2009 12:34:00 AM

I think that's one of teh best replies I've read on a forum.
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September 23, 2009 1:47:04 AM

Yeah, I found one 0023 bios but when I tried to flash it, I got an error message that the bios was older than my board. Ah well - maybe that's why I need the "modded" one.
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October 23, 2009 1:13:08 AM

How about if you want a new cpu, which is better to buy?
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a c 105 à CPUs
October 26, 2009 2:26:32 PM

aserate said:
How about if you want a new cpu, which is better to buy?


The same logic applies- for multithreaded work, go with the Athlon II X4 620 and for current games or overclocking, the Phenom II X2 550BE would most likely be faster.
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