Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Welcome to Part 1 of Tom's Hardware's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. This first installment is geared toward system builders planning to pool some Christmas cash to build a new performance- or value-oriented system. We have something for everyone this year.

$139.99
www.amd.com

In October, we gave this chip an honorable mention as one of the best gaming CPUs in the $100 to $200 range. Bang for the buck, Intel's Sandy Bridge-based Core i3-2100 may be better for gaming, but when you’ve got multiple apps to juggle, the Phenom II X4’s four cores are likely the better bet. The fact that we’re still considering this processor at the end of 2011—over two and a half years after its debut—should tell you something about its overall impact on the budget-oriented enthusiast market.

The 45 nm-based 955 was one of the first flagships for AMD's Socket AM3 interface. Clocking in at 3.2 GHz, the chip features 64 KB of L1 cache per core, 512 KB of L2 per core, and 6 MB of L3 shared across all four cores. All told, AMD crams this performance into a 125 W TDP envelope.

The historical significance of the 955 may turn out to be that, in the spring of 2009, this was one of AMD’s best shots at the high-performance market, though it didn’t even come close to the Core i7s of the day. Only now do we have the company officially acknowledging that it is no longer in a war with Intel for the CPU market’s high ground.

But that doesn’t mean that AMD lacks real value at the low- and mid-ranges. This 955 remains a compelling upgrade for those with AM2+ and AM3 platforms. The Black Edition chips (with unlocked clock multipliers) have always been a great way for those tight on funds to get into overclocking, and the 955 can easily reach into the 3.6 to 3.8 GHz range without so much as a pinch of voltage increase. So, if you’re holiday recipient has an aging AMD platform in need of a quick caffeine transfusion, the 955 remains a very accessible way to have a lot of fun.

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    Top Comments
  • serhat359
    I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • wizloa
    i clicked for the lady
    33
  • HansVonOhain
    Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • Other Comments
  • gerohmygosh
    Where is the girl for the PNY RAM?!?!?!
    0
  • wizloa
    i clicked for the lady
    33
  • phamhlam
    What is your favorite picture?

    Mine was the one with the 4 SSD.
    My floppy disk totally turned to a hard disk drive.

    I can't wait for part 2 already.
    6
  • serhat359
    I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • HansVonOhain
    Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • phamhlam
    What is hotter? The computer parts or the girl?
    -6
  • richboyliang
    haha do these girls know what they're doing?
    -7
  • koolkat574
    richboylianghaha do these girls know what they're doing?


    Depends on if you use an aftermarket cooler or the stock one
    -6
  • manu 11
    For one second, my focus was deviated, back to pc!
    -5
  • lunyone
    It looks like the Blonde model was having more fun, or is it just me. If I wasn't married, I'd take either! Forget the PC hardware, there are more important things to look at!!! Lol!
    10
  • bcontoursvt
    All these pages later and I still have no idea what the topic of the story was...
    11
  • LuckyDucky7
    I don't get it.

    Why are some things suggested in this guide mostly the worst value you could get for that sum of cash?

    For starters:

    -MSI 990FX-GD80 wouldn't be my top pick. That would go to a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD(x) board. Why bother getting a board that's more expensive than the best processor for the platform (or one whose lower-end boards don't catch fire).

    -i7-3930K? Ivy's just around the corner and will run on 150 dollar boards that do more than X79 could think of.

    -Silverstone 1000W PSU? Seasonic's already got their X-1050, which has 80+ Platinum certification instead of gold for the same cost.

    Some things I guess I just don't understand, then. You list some parts that have really good value, such as that RAM and Powercolor graphics card along with the 955BE, and then go to the polar opposite. I don't see the reason for that.
    21
  • manu 11
    I can ditch pc hardware if i can get a girl in those photos
    1
  • kustiki321
    I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.
    0
  • mkrijt
    The redhead doesn't seem to have fun....
    17
  • cold fire
    I'm having a hard time deciding whether I'd take all the hardware or all the girls. :$
    -8
  • tzhu07
    Those girls prove why Tom's Hardware will never be at the level of AnandTech...
    -7
  • gazum123
    Anonymous said:
    I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.



    Get a life you freak
    -22
  • Goldengoose
    gazum123Get a life you freak

    Get a sense of humor you rude little man.
    15
  • Anonymous
    and not a single anti-static precaution taken... All those naked components... what a waste
    -4