Given some of the pricining I'm finding online I believe the time has come to upgrade my venerable system. Like many of you I need to spend every penny wisely. I am also interested in efficiency and economy of components. Having said that I do realize that to a large extent performance is relative to power. Currently my choice for best bang for the buck processor is:
I have read many reviews and this cpu is very well liked. Additionally the possibility exists of unlocking a fourth core (that may or may not be stable). I have seen commentary that states with 4 cores this is a Phenom by another name. I have also seen rather spirited commentary that even with 4 cores this is NOT a Phenom at all. Additionally some have said that unlocking the fourth core will access an L3 cache which doesn't exist on the stock 3 core offering. Any clarification on the above is welcomed.
Another interesting contender is:AMD Athlon II X2 270 Regor 3.4GHz Socket AM3 65W Dual Core.....$55.00
Though a dual core, this a contender because:
a.) 3.4 Ghz
b.) 2 x 1MB L2 Cache
Faster stock clock, more L2 Cache, and lower power consumption seem to put the 270 Regor ahead but it seems to good to be true. Also some have commented that some of the Athlon Dual Cores can unlock a 3rd and 4th core. I do not know if the 270 is one of those. Let me make it absolutely clear that I am interested in these chips as they are (stock). If there are extra useable cores then that's a plus. If there aren't then it doesn't affect my interest in these cpus.
None of these have L3 Cache. I have been told that L3 cache is absoultuley essential for good gaming performance. Is the lack of L3 cache rreally an issue here?
My strategy is to invest more money in a better AM3 mobo and vid card and then I can upgrade the cpu's above in the future. I would like to keep my current psu which is another advantage to keep lower TDP for the cpu and spend it on the vid card and other items.
A final note - I have posted in other online forums. I've been surprised at the general arrogance and attitude I've gotten about these older cpus. I'm not a novice and I understand that these are older cpus but my system is even older than that and these would be a really nice upgrade for me. It used to be that the tech community in general was always glad to help and never passed judgement. Things seem different today with comments like "and you're probably looking for a reel to reel drive I bet". None of the responses I've received in other forums have answered a single question I've asked. What happened to the comraderie and attitude of the old days?
Well, since more and more apps are starting to use more than 2 threads, the triple core would be a better choice. Not to mention it's a dollar cheaper, you can buy a can of coke for that . And that 0.2Ghz difference really won't be noticable since chances are that the program will make use of the 3rd core. A friend has that same CPU and in BF3 he gets around 40-50FPS on High with 8GB RAM and an HD6750 1GB GDDR5. For comparison, I get 55-70 FPS with my Phenom II 965 BE, 8GB Corsair Vengeance and the same graphics card, the difference is noticable, but it isn't the borderline between playable and unplayable. The point of that comparison was to show that the extra core matters (most of the time).
The AthIIX3 450 is the better choice. If gaming is important, the extra core will be of great benefit. I had an AthIIX3 450 paired with a mid range card at 1680x1050 resolution. It handled any game fine at mid to near max settings. The newer more graphically intense games like BF3 will require some reduced settings, but the 3 cores will be better than 2. I don't feel the L3 cache is all that important in gaming. I can't find the article right now, but there was a series of benchmarks run with Phenom II processors with the cache on and off. The difference was miniscule.
I think that I can add some first-hand experience with these. I started out with a X2 270 processor in my Dell Inspiron 570, then swapped that out for a X3 455, then finally a X4 965.
I'll be concise with my conclusion before I get into detail: there was more difference between the Athlon X2 270 and the Athlon X3 455 than there was between the X3 455 and the Phenom X4 965. That was my initial thought based on system responsiveness and overall perception, and was confirmed via CPU benchmarks. I still actually run the X3 455 in my HTPC today, and it's a darn good processor.
In terms of the extra core, that's a really unreliable matter. Some of the X3 chips are made with the same architecture as the X4. Some of them are not and don't even have the L3 cache present. There is a way to tell without testing it if you can check the serial number, but that's not much help when buying one online. Even then however, you have to hope the extra core is viable.
The main reason the Athlon X3 processors are so well regarded is, in my opinion, because they seem to overclock especially well considering they have locked multipliers. I wouldn't doubt that a solid overclock of the three reliable cores would equal or beat the stock clock setting across a fourth core.
The 270 wasn't a bad processor, but the truth is that I had considered it when building my HTPC (65w is a snap to keep cool), but I honestly couldn't bring myself to go back to the lag that was evident compared to the X3.