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AMD Unleashed: Four CPUs, Two GPUs, All Overclocked

There is a staggering number of charts on the preceding pages, and those willing to study the data themselves will get the most value from this article.

We looked at how four AMD processors stack up against each other, and also against two of the older Intel-based SBM machines that fall within the pricing range where these processors make the most sense. Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the various CPUs, let’s take a look where each device may best be put to use. 

The Athlon 7750 Black Edition is very affordable, has a bundled retail cooler, and it sports an unlocked multiplier, making it fairly simple to delve into the sport of increasing performance at little or no additional cost. While not miserly on power consumption, this chip can be used in almost any AM2 or AM2+ motherboard, and may very well deliver more than enough performance for the majority of everyday computing tasks. Those who will not overclock, or who at least would stick to mild overclocking instead of purchasing an aftermarket cooler, will find this device to be quite an attractive processor. But keep in mind that in order to reach its full overclocking potential, one must factor in the added cost of an aftermarket cooler and a motherboard with ACC.

Buyers willing to go to those lengths will find that for a similar cost, the Intel Pentium E5200 is both able to reach far higher clock speeds and offer much greater performance. Also factor in other strong competition from within AMD’s own product lineup including the 45 W Athlon X2 4850e and the triple-core Phenom X3 and Phenom II X3 processors. In the end, the Athlon 7750 BE leaves the impression of being a fun, super-affordable overclocking chip that could sit very nicely in a $500 PC. Unfortunately, even the most budget-minded enthusiast will probably feel it comes up a little shy in resulting performance.

The Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition shares the same strengths with its bundled cooler and unlocked multiplier. It delivers a strong showing in threaded applications at its current price of $150. Though the bundled cooler allows for mild overclocking, the chip’s maximum potential will again require an aftermarket cooler and a motherboard with the SB750 southbridge. This quad-core AMD faces tough competition, not only from the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200, but even more so from AMD’s own newly introduced Phenom II X3 720 BE and X4 810. Overall the Phenom X4 9950 BE is no gaming or overclocking  champion, but it has a lot to offer the casual gamer and overclocker who does a lot of multi-tasking or uses applications favoring a quad-core processor.

The introduction of the Phenom II X3 7xx series processors brought 3.6 GHz and faster clock speeds to an even more affordable level. It doesn’t offer top-notch performance in quad-optimized applications or in applications optimized for only two cores. But, at the same time, what it does offer is a nice blend of fairly high core speeds for gaming and an extra core for threaded applications. For $140, gamers willing to overclock will find that the Phenom II X3 720 BE offers an incredible value in terms of price and overall balanced performance. The money saved could be put into more powerful graphics for high-resolution gaming.

The Phenom II X4 940 BE was quite impressive throughout our tests. The high clock speeds we reached brought our sample extremely close to the more expensive Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550. So, which processor is right for your next build? If you seek the best overall performance, look no further than Intel’s Core i7 lineup. We're going to stick by that decision, despite the comments from our most recent SBM series. But, if you’re looking for a processor that offers a solid blend of gaming, overclocking, and threaded performance for less than $200, then you’ll have a hard time doing better than the AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition.

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