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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  • Finally - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    one thing is missing.
    I'm much less interested in overclocking than I am interested in undervolting.
    3 Weeks ago I bought two Phenom II X2 555 BE C3s for my girlfriend's new PC and mine - and guess what? Both unlocked to quad-cores easily. I was even able to lower the CPU voltage from 1.251V to a mere 1.141V. As a power consumption-meter is on its way to me, I will be able to report power saving numbers, if anyone is interested.

    All this 4-core-goodness I got for a mere 75€ a pop.
    If that's not great performance for an unbeatable price I don't know what is...
  • chrnochime - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    And like was mentioned in the article it's not guaranteed that whoever buys the 555/565 BE would be able to unlock the other two cores and run them just fine without instability.

    When it's a gamble and not 100% success rate, people who value their time and not wanting to return CPUs and getting another to test tend to either go down to the cheaper x3 or pay a bit more for the i3.
  • ajp_anton - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    I noticed you're using the x264 pass1 test for load power consumption.
    Is this really a good choise? All cores aren't maxed out in this test. This is obvious when knowing what x264 is actually doing in pass1 versus pass2, and comparing the speeds confirm this.
    In pass2, all Phenom II's (x2, x4, x6) have exactly the same speed per core per GHz.
    In pass1, the speed bumps are far from the nice linear scaling in pass2. The x6 is only twice (2.13x) as fast as the x2, so almost two cores are idle.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    You'll see this change in the next month when we revamp our Bench suite :)

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

    Yeah, expecting that. I don't quite understand why putting the stupid sysmark on the just can't tell any difference between processors with different performance :)
  • iwodo - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    There are rumours floating around that Intel is gonna make BIG price cut soon for holiday season due to lower then expected demand, clearing stocks for Sandy Bridge, as well as more people buying iPad then PCs.

    SandyBridge will be a top to bottom chip, leaving Current Nehalem for Servers. ( Which is doing VERY well in that area )

    Some of the performance data are already leaked, the only things that is left is on the GPU side as well as Official benchmarks.
  • yuriylsh - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    just got a notification from Micro Center about $80 instant savings on i7-950, which means $200 for 3GHz Core i7 - not a bad deal. Is it starting?
  • RyuDeshi - Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - link

    MicroCenter has been selling the 950 for $199 for a long time now. It has been on SlickDeals front page many times.. They just do that to get traffic to their store, then try to sell you everything else you don't need.
  • jaydee - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    The Phenom II X2 565 is 18% (idle) and 23% (load) more efficient than the Phenom II X2 555?
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, December 7, 2010 - link

    The board has changed to a much more efficient one. It's approximately a constant offset between both configurations, as evidenced by the differences in idle numbers.


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