AMD's Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition
processor brings a lot more to the table than you would expect from a $99
slab of silicon. Two cores clocked at 3.2GHz, 6MB L3 cache an unlocked
multiplier and full virtualization support. It's a pretty complete package for
Windows 7 and Vista PCs to built around.
Under the surface, the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition is
pretty much a Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, but with two of its cores
disabled. This isn't necessarily the best design for a dual-core processor. It
would be better served with more individual L2 cache and better multicore
The difference in cache performance means that the AMD Phenom II
X2 555 Black Edition CPU still has difficult keeping up with Intel's more
expensive Core 2 Duo E8400 and E8500 processors, and the Athlon II X4 635 for that matter. The Phenom II X2 555
Black Edition simply isn't as efficient clock-for-clock as Intel's recent
In PCSTATS tests we witnessed overall performance for
the AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition system on par with traditional
desktop situations where one processor core can handle the operating system and
background process, and the other core handles a single threaded
application. In this environment the AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition CPU
will deliver a good level of performance for the price of $99USD.
However in applications like video encoding and 3D
rendering where parallel processing can take advantage of multi-core processors.
In these scenarios the $125 AMD Athlon II X4 635 clobbers the Phenom II X2 555 Black
Edition. Really, the choice of which processor to get will come down to what
kind of tasks you use your computer for.
One of the other nice things about
AMD's current Phenom II (and Athlon II) processor line-up is its
cross compatability. You can drop the AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition into
any socket AM3 or socket AM2+ motherboard, and it will work with your existing
DDR2 or DDR3 memory. As upgrades go it's dead simple, and in sharp contrast to
the malarky that's going on with Intel's current nightmare of socket
Overclocking the Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition was a
lot of fun, thanks to the unlocked multiplier. Without using any tweaks it was
possible to take the PIIX2 555BE from 3.2GHz up to 3.995GHz! Overclocking a $100
chip up nearly 4GHz really expands the value that system tweakers can get out of
mainstream computer gear.
With its Phenom II X2 processor line down to the $99 USD ($105 CDN, £62 GBP) price
point, AMD has a lot to offer both upgraders and system builders who are looking
to make a budget desktop that still has decent performance. The AMD Phenom
II X2 555 Black Edition processor is a good way to turn an aging AM2+ Athlon
system into a decent gaming rig, and from there eventually upgraded to an
AM3 motherboard. The great overclocking potential only sweetens the deal!
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