The AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black
Edition processor is everything you'd expect from a hybrid: it's got high clock
speeds and a low price like a dual-core, but the big cache and multi-threading
capabilities of a quad-core. And just like any mixture, it's had to make a few
compromises along the way.
In benchmarks PCSTATS found that in single-threaded
benchmarks the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 and E8500 processors were faster than the
AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition by a margin of 10-30%. Single-threaded
applications still make up the lion's share of computing for most users, and the
AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition just can't compete directly with Intel's
processors in these tests.
However the story changes in multi-threaded benchmarks,
where having a third core starts to make a lot more sense. With each core
clocked at 2.8GHz and 6MB of shared L3 cache, the AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black
Edition has plenty of computing muscle when you tap all of its capabilities. Now
the tables are turned against the Core 2 Duo processors, which subsequently are
outperformed by... 10-30%.
The AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition proved to be as
good an overclocker as its Black Edition moniker indicated. PCSTATS was able to
unlock an extra 875MHz of free performance for a final overclock of 3.675GHz
(15x multiplier, 245MHz bus speed), using only the reference cooler and minor
voltage tweaks. While PCSTATS doesn't do official benchmarking with overclocked
processors, a 3.675GHz AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition processor is more than
capable of holding its own against Intel's fastest Core 2 Duo processors.
It's an easy upgrade as well. The socket AM3 version of
the AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition that PCSTATS tested today is compatible
with DDR3 memory and AM3 motherboards as well as being backwards compatible with
DDR2-based socket AM2+ and AM2 motherboards. Just drop the processor into an
existing AMD system and it's ready to go.
Overall then this processor is actually a good balance
for the types of users who do everyday computing tasks, but also end up doing a
fair amount of video encoding, 3D rendering and number crunching as well. It's
an excellent overclocker and has both backwards and forwards compatibility. And
since the AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition costs just $145 CDN ($130 USD £90 GBP ...compared to $200 for the
Core 2 Duo E8400), this triple-core processor is a definite win for AMD and
enthusiasts everywhere on a budget.
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