end of the day, AMD's Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor stacks up as
direct competition for Intel's Core i7 920 processor. AMD has come a long way
from the launch of the original Phenom CPU, and this 3.2GHz socket AM3 chip has
thrust the company back into direct competition with Intel's flagship processor
The Phenom II X4 955 BE offers more
overall value, and by that I mean it's not quite as fast as the Intel Core i7 920 but costs a
significant amount less. While Intel can claim the fastest current CPU on the
market, with the blistering speed of its Core i7 965 Extreme processor, it does
so at a high price... $1300 CDN to be exact. That's too high for all but a
fraction of computer enthusiasts, and that's not taking into account the
required Intel X58 motherboard and triple channel DDR3 memory to power
AMD's approach with its fastest unlocked processor is much
more consumer-friendly. The Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor retails for
around $300 CDN ($245 USD, £165 GBP), so it's
more affordable than the entry-level model of the i7 family, the Core i7 920.
Unlike the Intel Core i7 lineup, the Phenom II also doesn't require an entirely
new motherboard or memory kit in order to work.
It is compatible with new socket AM3 motherboards,
and backwards compatible with existing AMD Socket AM2+ motherboards (and
potentially some Socket AM2 motherboards as well). Depending on the motherboard
users choose to install a Phenom II X4 into, the processor can be used with
either DDR2 or DDR3 memory. This makes the Phenom II X4 955 BE a very easy
upgrade for AMD users looking for quick speed boost, and keeps the overall cost
of building a Phenom II X4-based PC down considerably.
AMD's Dragon Platform Gets Teeth
kind of value that's finally making AMD's 'Dragon' platform spead its wings and
soar (and uh, breathe fire). When AMD first launched Dragon with the Phenom II
X3 720 Black Edition processor, and even more tellingly the Spider platform back
in 2007, it seemed to be more of a branding tactic than anything substantial.
Buying into AMD's Radeon videocards, 7XX-series chipsets and Phenom processors
didn't give much benefit over other system configurations involving NVIDIA chipsets or Geforce
graphics cards. AMD has done a lot to rectify that over the past two years.
Overdrive 3.0 and its Fusion utilities are the fruits of the Dragon platform,
and represent an actual bonus value for pairing up AMD's hardware together. Both
utilities go a long way towards getting more bang for your system-building buck,
with Fusion working as a handy tool that simply suspends all background
applications in order to minimize system resources getting tied up during
But it's really
AMD's Overdrive 3.0 that steals the show because it's superior to both NVIDIA
and Intel's overclocking utilities, offering finer control over a broader range
of options for overclocking and system tuning. While this software is aimed at
the computer enthusiast, its purpose is to make overclocking as easy and
accessible as possible.
The days of having to dig through the BIOS manual
to figure out cryptic acronyms and memorizing voltage settings are over. The 3.0
revision of AMD's Overdrive software has taken this a step further, with Black
Edition Memory Profiles eliminating the need to fiddle around with RAM timings,
and Smart Profiles making it a little bit easier to optimize system performance
on the fly.
all comes together, it comes together very nicely. PCSTATS managed to overclock
the Phenom II X4 955 BE to 4GHz through a combination of tweaking the
multipliers and adjusting the bus speed, and at that speed it was able to
compete head to head with the Core i7 920. For those PC enthusiasts who treat
overclocking as both the means and the ends, this
is definitely a processor to watch out for.
Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is an easy recommendation for anyone who's been
daunted by the cost of going Core i7, and isn't doing massively multi-threaded
CPU tasks like raytracing or scientific simulations. It's also an absolute
no-brainer for those that already own AMD socket AM2+ motherboards and simply
want to move up to a quad-core processor with more power. When under both
extreme technological and financial pressure, AMD has still managed to pull off
a winner with the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition. It's one of a few very rare
computer parts that gives you more value than what you paid for.
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