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AMD Unleashed: Four CPUs, Two GPUs, All Overclocked

Conclusion

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.

  • setting aside 1366 and AM3

    In 2 or 3 years when QX9770 chips start showing up for $250-$300.

    Will AMD have a cheaper socket AM2+ compatible chip on the market that will outperform it?

    If so, AMD would be a nice alternative.
    Reply
  • setting aside 1366 and AM3

    In 2 or 3 years when QX9770 chips start showing up for $250-$300.

    Will AMD have a cheaper socket AM2+ compatible chip on the market that will outperform it?

    If so, AMD would be a nice alternative.
    Reply
  • In 2 or 3 years Intel will have 16 cores on a single cpu, and amd tech will, as always, be useless, outdated, and worthless... Just like they are now.
    Reply
  • radguy
    So did I miss somthing or where does it say what each of these processors is overclocked to. I get that the p2 x3 720be is at 3.67 but what about the rest of them. Am I missing it somewhere (very possible) or do I have to look back at your previous articles to figure it out? shouldn't that be on the test systems and configuration page. I am trying to sort through the data.
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    Nice article Paul and some exhaustive work! Don't overlook the 780G/SB710 that also feature ACC for a price of $72
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157154
    making the Phenom2 x3 720 a viable option in the SBM budget category. I'm also going to be curious about the new Phenom2 x2 and Athlon2 x2 processors that are coming out June 2nd.
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    Has anyone noticed the benchmarks for the i5's on anandtech yet?
    Reply
  • nerrawg
    Great article guys - love the comparisons to the SBM machines - really gives some insight into CPU and GPU scaling and how much to spend on your processor versus your graphics for gaming builds. Thanks!
    Reply
  • Sihastru
    apache_livesHas anyone noticed the benchmarks for the i5's on anandtech yet?
    I did. Considering the pricing scheme of the i5 (so close to AMD) and it's high performance numbers (so close to the i7) AMD is in big trouble.

    Intel will shift all the processors that are now under the i7 (even if the 920 is rumored to become EOL, one step down on it's portfolio, which means high end Intel dual cores, will go into or under the mainstream, where AMD already has a hard time.

    This doesn't make me very happy, even if I am an Intel fanboy. Aggressive pricing schemes are overrated. AMD needs something new. Now.
    Reply
  • DjEaZy
    ... BIG THX to the Tom's crew... was not so hard after all? ... now, thx to YOU, we have a info about intel, nVidia and AMD/ATi solutions... how they stack up in price/performance/cost of ownership... NICELY DONE!!!
    Reply
  • erdinger
    Yes thanks, many people complained in the system builder marathon and you listened to the complaints... great.
    Reply