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Sunnyvale (CA) – It seems that the excitement about new and ever faster processors has subsided quite a bit in recent years, but if you are looking for a faster processor for your system, then here’s an update: AMD now offers its unlocked Phenom II quad-core CPU, referred to as Black Edition, with up to 3.2 GHz right out of the box. Of course, unlocked means that AMD wants you to spend some time figuring out how much clock speed this chip really supports.
The processor, called the GHz Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, sells for a tray price of about $245 and represents the new flagship of AMD’s desktop processor product family. It replaces the 940 BE 3.0 GHz model ($195 tray price; street price about $215), which is still available, but is likely to be phased out soon.
Running at a thermal design power of 125 watts, the 45 nm 955 BE seems to have plenty of headroom for overclocking. AMD indicates that 3.6 GHz is a realistic target, but we also heard that some people have taken the chip to 3.8 GHz, and with some luck, you may get more. First reviews from Tom;’s Hardware or Anandtech, for example, indicate that it is a formidable gaming CPU, but it can’t touch Intel’s Core i7 in overall performance at this time. However, the i7 wasn’t AMD’s target any way – it was the Core 2 Quad Q9550 and Anandtech found the chip to be in the lead.
“The Phenom II X4 955, 945/940 and the Phenom II X3 720 are all very competitive at their price points. Compared to the Core 2 Quad Q9550 the new X4 955 generally comes out ahead.” … “The cheaper Phenom II parts, especially once you get down to the X3 720, don’t really even touch the i7’s price points so the comparison isn’t really valid there. But the 955 is getting dangerously close to the cost of an entry level i7 platform, and if you don’t already have an AM2+ motherboard the i7 may be worth considering. Especially now that DDR2 and DDR3 are much closer in price.”