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AMD is usually pretty aggressive with turning process tweaks and yield improvements into new products. Just two months ago AMD gave us the Athlon II X3 450 and the Phenom II X2 565, today we're getting speed bumps of both of those parts. The Athlon II X3 455 runs at 3.3GHz, up from 3.2GHz and costs the same $87. You get an additional 100MHz for free. The chip hasn't changed otherwise. You get a quad-core die with one core disabled, no L3 cache and a 512KB L2 per core.

At $87 this part competes head to head with Intel's Pentium G6950. The Athlon II X3 450 mopped the floor with the G6950 in our last review, and the speed bumped 455 will be no different in this review. If you CPU budget is right around the $80 - $90 mark, AMD has you covered.

The Phenom II X2 565 is an unlocked Black Edition part, also identical to its predecessors. Here you have a quad-core die with two cores disabled, a 512KB L2 per core and a shared 6MB L3. The 565 runs at 3.4GHz, up from 3.3GHz, but the clock increase comes with a $10 price increase.

The 565 goes up against Intel's Core i3 540 and 550 processors. The comparison here is less clear cut. In the case of the Athlon II X3, you get more cores for the same money which really helps AMD out. The 565 by default doesn't give you any more cores, all you get is a higher clock speed and a larger L3 cache. But you lose out on IPC, threaded performance and power consumption. While AMD easily wins between $80 - $90, around $110 - $120 the choice moves back towards Intel. There is just one more thing however.

Both the Athlon II X3 and Phenom II X2 are made from harvested die. As we've seen in the past, these harvested die aren't always bad. In the case of the Phenom II X2 we've seen a number of CPUs with disabled cores that could just as easily be re-enabled. Armed with ASUS' M4A89GTD Pro/USB 3 890GX motherboard I tried to see if I could enable any of the disabled cores on the two samples AMD sent me.

In the case of the Athlon II X3, enabling the fourth core wasn't a problem. ASUS' Core Unlocker enabled it and the system was just as stable as before, now with four fully functional cores. I could even overclock the four cores just as far as I could overclock the chip with only three cores enabled.

I managed to get three working cores on the Phenom II X2, however I couldn't boot into Windows 7 with the fourth core enabled.


A Phenom II X2 565: Overclocked and with one additional core unlocked

In the case of the $87 Athlon II X3 turning into an $87 Athlon II X4, you can't get better than that. Your mileage will most definitely vary. I've had Phenom II X2s that would work as quad core parts, triple core parts and refuse to work at all above two cores. The same goes for the Athlon II line. You can't count on core unlocking working, but if it does, it's great additional value.

The Phenom II X6 1100T

The six-core Phenom II X6 gets a speed bump as well. The 1100T increases default clock speeds from 3.2GHz to 3.3GHz, and increases Turbo Core frequency from 3.6GHz to 3.7GHz. Turbo Core is only supported on Thuban based processors (currently only Phenom II X6s) and increases operating frequency if half or fewer cores are actively in use.

The bigger news here is the 1100T reflects AMD's new Phenom II X6 pricing:

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache L3 Cache TDP Price
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T BE 3.3GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $265
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T BE 3.2GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $235
AMD Phenom II X6 1075T 3.0GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $199
AMD Phenom II X6 1055T 2.8GHz 3MB 6MB 125W $195
AMD Phenom II X4 970 BE 3.5GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $185
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 3.4GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $165
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz 2MB 6MB 125W $145
AMD Phenom II X2 565 BE 3.4GHz 1MB 6MB 80W $115
AMD Phenom II X2 560 BE 3.3GHz 1MB 6MB 80W $105
AMD Phenom II X2 555 BE 3.2GHz 1MB 6MB 80W $93
AMD Athlon II X4 645 3.1GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $122
AMD Athlon II X4 640 3.0GHz 2MB 0MB 95W $100
AMD Athlon II X3 455 3.3GHz 1.5MB 0MB 95W $87
AMD Athlon II X3 450 3.2GHz 1.5MB 0MB 95W $87
AMD Athlon II X3 445 3.1GHz 1.5MB 0MB 95W $76
AMD Athlon II X2 265 3.3GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $76
AMD Athlon II X2 260 3.2GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $69
AMD Athlon II X2 255 3.1GHz 2MB 0MB 65W $66

At $265 this puts the 1100T between the Core i5 760 and the Core i7 860. While the Core i7 860 still has the edge in some of our tests, the 1100T is within striking distance and cheaper. In heavily threaded apps, the 1100T's six cores really come in handy and give AMD the win. Combine the two and you can get a better value. However Intel still holds the advantage in lightly threaded scenarios thanks to the i5/i7 aggressive turbo modes.

The Test

To keep the review length manageable we're presenting a subset of our results here. For all benchmark results and even more comparisons be sure to use our performance comparison tool: Bench.

We've moved all of our AMD CPU testing to the 890GX platform. While nearly all numbers are comparable you may occasionally see some scaling that doesn't quite add up compared to lower clocked versions of the same chips running on a previous motherboard.

Motherboard: ASUS P7H57DV- EVO (Intel H57)
Intel DP55KG (Intel P55)
Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel DX48BT2 (Intel X48)
ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (AMD 890GX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 8.12
Hard Disk: Intel X25-M SSD (80GB)
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Corsair DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 280 (Vista 64)
ATI Radeon HD 5870 (Windows 7)
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 9.12 (Windows 7)
NVIDIA ForceWare 180.43 (Vista64)
NVIDIA ForceWare 178.24 (Vista32)
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit (for SYSMark)
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
Windows 7 x64
SYSMark 2007 & Photoshop Performance
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  • SandmanWN - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    The podiums in peoples basements just keep getting bigger and more nonsensical every day. Reply
  • IMPL0DE - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    Bit-tech already admitted having Sandy Bridge in their test labs and Bulldozer is nowhere to be seen at the moment. Next year will be do or die for AMD. Their GPUs are awesome, they need to stiffen up the competition with their CPUs also. It's always the price, and the performace has been lacking for a while now. I'm and AMD user, but if Bulldozer disappoints I'll go with Sandy Bridge for my next build. Reply
  • Finally - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    Seems like you are some creative, rendering type of PC user.
    Sadly/Gladly 90% are not.

    Performance has become pretty irrelevant, hasn't it?
    You get a 4-core @ 3GHz thrown at you for less than $100.

    What of the things your average Joe does with his PC isn't possible with that kind of computer?
    E-Mail? Ridiculous.
    Surfing? Ridiculous.
    Messaging? Ridiculous.
    HD-Videos? Oh, come on!

    Thanks to shabby console ports and stagnation in the PC Games market, you can easily run about any game with a 2 year old HD4870...

    What exactly does Joe need more cores/GHz/performance for?
    Reply
  • tim851 - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    E-Mail/Surfing/Messaging/HD-Videos...

    You could do any of that with any of the first Athlon X2s, released in the Summer of '05.

    If this is your mindset, what are you doing here? Isn't it pointless to follow CPU news for five years?
    Reply
  • Finally - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    The argument is as follows:
    The hi-end/hi-performance market segmet is negligible.
    If e.g. Apple really adopts AMD hardware for their fancy iSomething builds, they will be on the rise again.
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    Die for AMD? In fact 2011 is a year for AMD to catch up much they have lost since 2007.
    Just look at what Intel will be doing:
    1.ship the same crappy Atom and the revised 32-nm version won't come before Q4 2011--Ok, at ultraportable/netbook, Intel is doomed to fail in the face of mighty Brazos. It will retain some market at lower-TDP such as tablets but that's the world for Tegra 2.
    2.launch the SNB, an architecural upgrade from Westmere, which suggest that you can't expect much performance boost from current dual-core Pentium and i3 parts. That means Intel's still got weak low-end products. Keep in mind that the dual-core SNBs will compete with Llano APUs with 4 revised K10 cores+HD5500 level IGP. The Athlon X4s can already dominate i3s, so we can't say i3 2000 series will do better job than Llano.
    3. The high-end is always Intel's world. But this time life will be hard for SNB quad-cores and Westmere hex-cores. Bulldozer is the first new architecture since K8 (K10 is only an enhanced K8), it has eight cores running at crazy frequency as high as 4GHz. So I'm very certain that it can at least overrun the quad-core SNBs and have similar if not better performance with hex-core Westmeres. Well, there's an eight-core SNB-E, but it's not what AMD is concerned with. For AMD, returning to $300 market, controlled by today's i7 9 Series, is the biggest victory, the $1000 market is meaningless because you can't sell many chips on such outrageous price slot.

    So things are not so bad for AMD in the next year as long as they ship their product on time and keep up the pace on Fusion Project.
    Reply
  • anubis44 - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    I don't think anybody is going to be disappointed by Bulldozer. Whereas Sandybridge is an incremental improvement, Bulldozer is a complete redesign. It's a totally new design compared to the K7/K8/Phenom I/Phenom II architecture. Basically, it's the first radically different design to come out of AMD since the launch of the Athlon in 1999, so that should tell you something. We're not going to be seeing modest, single percentage performance increase, it'll likely be on the order of 30-60% depending on what you're doing. Reply
  • Finally - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    Phenom I was a redesign as well.
    I still have a bad aftertaste in my mouth when I think about it.
    It took them until Phenom II to iron things out.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    "... Just two months ago AMD gave us the Athlon II X3 450 and the Phenom II X2 56[0], today we're..."

    Should be:
    ... Just two months ago AMD gave us the Athlon II X3 450 and the Phenom II X2 56[0], today we're...

    Cheers.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, December 07, 2010 - link

    :D typo included also by me :)

    The original article has: "... Just two months ago AMD gave us the Athlon II X3 450 and the Phenom II X2 56[5], today we're..."
    Reply

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