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Phenom 9700, AMD's 1st Quad-Core CPU

Slower, But Cheaper Than Intel's Smallest Quad-Core

The new compatibility concept can save the consumer a lot of money when buying a new CPU or motherboard. The Phenom processor as well as all of the remaining AM2 CPUs can be used on either the new AM2+ boards or the older AM2 platform.

Although AMD's rival Intel has been using the same socket 775 LGA for its CPUs, its constant chipset introductions have also made Intel upgrades a costly affair that went hand in hand with time consuming configuration . AMD wishes to keep its customers and also aims to win disgruntled Intel users over with its compatibility concept. Buyers won't be forced to buy a new motherboard for the 2009 generation of CPUs.

AMD positions its new products in the mid-range segment and is currently not planning to attack Intel's offerings in the high-end. Instead, AMD is offering the most affordable quad-core processor in the market today .

We succeeded in overclocking our engineering sample to 3.00 GHz with only air cooling. Thus it seems feasible that we may soon see Phenom processors running at these higher clock speeds in stores - possibly as an FX version. Indeed we hear that AMD is planning to introduce a Phenom Black Edition this year that will have an open multiplier - which should enable users to hit the 3+ GHz we saw during our tests. The Black Edition will be a 2.3 GHz or 2.4 GHz part. Also, a Phenom 9900 model will be introduced in Q1/2008 at 2.6 GHz, costing less than $350, with the 9700 we tested coming in below $300 (Euro prices are not yet available to us).

We were happy to see AMD present a working, functional and stable alternative to the many complicated and board-specific overclocking utilities . AMD's OverDrive allows the user to monitor the CPU and change its frequency as well as many other parameters such as voltages and bus speeds on-the-fly.

AMD seems to have done its homework when the company set the price for its Phenom processors. The Phenom 9600 is about 13.5% slower than Intel's Q6600 in our benchmarks. On the other hand, its price is also 13.6% lower than that of its direct competitor. Thus, the two products offer practically the same performance for your money. Compare Prices on AMD Phenom Processors

The advantages of the Spider platform are that you won't need to buy a new board for future processors , that you can upgrade it to use up to four graphics cards and that the platform is future proof thanks to its support for PCIe 2.0.

Looking into the future with the Spider platform, AMD seems to be the less expensive than Intel, since the chip giant has already announced that its current high-end platform X38 will be incompatible to the next generation of high-end CPUs at the beginning of next year. In the end, if you're looking to make the most of a long-term investment, AMD is without a doubt the better platform choice.

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