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)
Chipset Drivers: Intel (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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  • Aone - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately, the auther didn't explain the big and strange difference between the idle power figures of Athlons and Phenoms.
    For instance:
    Athlon II X3 455 (3.3GHz) - 63.9W,
    Athlon II X3 440 (3.0GHz) - 80.3W!

    Phenom II X4 970 (3.5GHz) - 66.9,
    Athlon II X4 645 (3.1GHz) - 75W!
    Athlon II X4 635 (2.9GHz) - 79.5W!
  • shooty - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    I am also interested in this difference... specifically the x2 555 vs the x2 565.
    Almost a 20W difference in idle and a 40W difference at load!
    What is going on to give this huge difference for (just) a clock bump?
    Anand, can you please post tested voltages of these cpus? I know from my experience that some motherboards put them at a higher stated voltage (above 1.4v).
    BTW, I'm 2 for 2 in getting the two extra cores to be stable on the 555.
  • Marlin1975 - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    not only that but the lowwer Ghz chip was beating the higher Ghz chip in games.

    Maybe there is more than just a speed bump?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    As I mentioned in the test page our older Athlon II/Phenom II numbers were run on a 7-series board vs. the new 890GX board we switched to in the last review. I've pulled the conflicting numbers to avoid confusion :)

    Take care,
  • semo - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    I'm pretty sure the X2 chip offers directed I/O and possibly better vm performance than the X3. It would be interesting to find out.

    Also I don't like it when the front page introduction differs from the main article's. I think you should keep it consistent across all front page articles (news or reviews).
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    I have a Phenom 2 x6 1090T.
    Now I'm wondering why you didn't push more voltage through that chip? It can handle 1.45volts with a decent cooler easily enough which would have pushed you over that 4ghz mark.
    I'm also surprised at the large performance difference the 100mhz increase in clockspeed provided in the benchmarks between the 1090T and the 1100T!
    108fps for the 1090T and 120fps for the 1100T.
    That's what... 10-12% improvement for just 100mhz? Doesn't seem to add-up in my eyes.
  • Finally - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    Just because your chip can handle 1.45V, doesn't mean that any chip can.
  • nitrousoxide - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    Thubans can reach 4.0GHz at 1.4V, that's true for almost all the Thuban parts.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    The board has changed. Such things matter in games.

  • chester457 - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    I use 7zip everyday and find your 7zip benchmark a little misleading. I'd prefer if you just did a bench with only 2 cores enabled. PAR2 already tests 3+ core archiving. By using 7zip you're invoking real-world performance because 7zip is a program many people use daily. It'd be nice to have the 2 core (real-world) performance instead of a theoretical one no user can ever hit.

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