AMD Phenom II X6 1075T, X4 970, X2 560, Athlon II X4 645, X3 450 & X2 265 Reviewajmatson - September 20, 2010
Price: $245 - $76
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From time to time a processor manufacturer will tweak current silicon, pushing a more stable clock speed. This is what gives us different processors speeds in the same family such as the Intel i7 and AMD Phenom II series. These tweaks, or “speed bumps” as they are sometimes referred to, are what bring us the faster or slower models. This is quite common in computer memory where some chips are "binned" at higher speed levels. This is how the same series memory can have 1333MHz with CAS 9 or 1600MHz with CAS 7 when using the same memory chips. While processors are not binned, the silicon is from time to time tweaked and that brings up the next model in a series. AMD uses a process called Automated Precision Manufacturing (APM) to make constant process improvements to its silicon.
Today we are going to be taking a look at several "updates" to the Phenom II and Athlon II line in which the process was able to tweak and improve the current silicon, creating a faster batch of chips. From the Phenom II line we have the X6 1075T, which AMD markets to bridge the gap between the higher end 1090T and the entry six core 1055T. There is also the X4 970, which is a bump up from the X4 965 and the X2 560, which is next in line after the X2 555. On the Athlon II side we have the newer X4 645 quad core, X3 450 triple core and the X2 265 dual core, all taking their respective leads.
AMD like any manufacturer will, from time to time, make these improvements that make a new part number with better speeds and abilities such as overclocking and lower temperatures. These releases are what keep us going when waiting for a whole new product, like maybe a Phenom III or perhaps a Phenom II X8? Either way, when a new processor comes out I cannot wait to get my hands on it and push it to the dirt. As with most of us reading here, overclocking is a passion and usually our first thoughts are how high we can push the hardware. Today we are going to be looking at three new Phenom II series and three new Athlon II series chips that are "speed bumps" from current hardware. These are designed to fill the gaps until the next major release. So how much better will these be than their counterparts? That is what we are here to find out.
The first CPU up on the bench is the AMD Phenom II X6 1075T, codename Thuban, which is the latest hexa core release from AMD. Designed using a 45nm manufacturing process, the X6 1075T is designed to fill the gap between the higher end X6 1090T Black Edition and the entry six core X6 1055T. The Phenom II X6 1075T is clocked at a modest 3.0GHz and has a turbo core speed of 3.5GHz. In case you are not familiar with Turbo Core, it is a technology built into AMD's six core chips that will turn off three cores when the full weight of the processor is not needed and automatically pushes up the speed of the active three cores to provide a small boost to compensate. The X6 1075T has all of the same features of the other AMD six cores, including HyperTransport 3.0 support for AM2+ and AM3 motherboard with the ability to run with DDR2 and DDR3 memory. The X6 1075T also features the same 512KB per core, 3MB total L2 cache and a shared 6MB L3 cache. The maximum TDP for the X6 1075T is 125 watts and if it's just like it's big brother I suspect it should have some good overclock speeds. The Phenom II X6 1075T is to be released at $245.
The next processor up on the testing bench is the latest of the Deneb line, the AMD Phenom II X4 970. This processor takes the flagship quad core spot from the widely used and respected X4 965. The X6 970 pushes the stock speed to a blistering 3.5GHz, which makes it the highest clocked Phenom II chip available. The X4 970 is also a Black Edition processor, which gives it an unlocked multiplier, allowing for easier overclocks by keeping all of the other hardware at their stock speeds since the reference clock does not have to be altered to overclock the CPU. The Phenom II X4 970 also has the same combined L2 cache of 2MB and shared L3 cache of 6MB as the X4 960. The maximum TDP of the 970 is 125 watts and it supports both DDR2 and DDR3 memory, depending on the motherboard platform it is paired with. The Phenom II X4 970 is to released at a low $185.
The last of the Phenom II processors we are looking at is a dual core offering, codenamed Calisto, which is the Phenom II X2 560. Like the X4 970 above, this is a Black Edition chip that has an unlocked multiplier allowing for easier and sometimes higher overclocks. This processor brings a new hope to the X2 line with a higher stock clock speed of 3.3GHz and of course, the possibility of being unlocked to a four core processor as we have seen in the past with some Phenom II X2 chips. This processor features a 1MB total L2 cache and a shared 6MB of L3 cache. As with other AM3 processors it also features HyperTransport 3.0 and supports DDR2 and DDR3 memory depending on the motherboard platform chosen to run on. It has a maximum TDP of 80 watts, which is lower than the X6 and X4 on the test benches today. At release, the Phenom II X2 560 is set to be a really low $105, which gives this CPU a great bang for the buck. If you are a lucky one to get a version that can be unlocked to all four cores, you definitely have a low cost gem.
Now we move on to the Athlon II line with the first chip codenamed Propus, the Athlon II X4 645. This chip takes the lead from the X4 640 and is clocked at a higher 3.1GHz. Unlike the Phenom II line, the Athlon II processors do not have an L3 cache so the X4 645 is limited to 512KB of L2 cache per core, or 2MB total. The Athlon II line also supports HyperTransport 3.0 and can be paired with DDR2 memory on an AM2+ motherboard as well as DDR3 memory on an AM3 motherboard. The Athlon II X4 645 has a maximum TDP of 95 watts, which makes it a bit cooler than the Phenom II quad cores. None of the Athlon IIs are Black Edition processors so there will be no unlocked multipliers here so I am intrigued to see how well the X4 645 overclocks. At release, the Athlon II X4 645 will run $122.
Next up in the Athlon II line is AMD's latest Triple Core, the Athlon II X3 450, codenamed Rana. Triple core processors are designed to bridge the gap between the lower end dual cores and the higher end quad cores. The addition of an additional core gives you a bit of a boost without having to spend a lot of money on a quad core processor. At release, the X3 450 is to be going for a mere $87, which is a good price point from the more expensive X4 645 but offers increased power from the dual cores. The Athlon II X4 450 is clocked at 3.2GHz and has a combined L2 cache of 1.5MB, or 512KB per core. Again, the Athlon IIs do not have an L3 cache. This processor is also an AM3 CPU and is backwards compatible with all the features and support of socket AM2+ motherboards.
Finally we have the last Athlon II on the test bench, the dual core Athlon II X2 265, codenamed Regor. The Athlon II X2 line is the budget CPU for those wanting stable computing without having to break the bank. Priced at only $76 at launch, it is the cheapest processor out of the bunch today but will not be counted out. The X2 265 packs the largest per core L2 cache out of the Athlon IIs with 1MB per core instead of the usual 512KB. This brings the total L2 cache of the X2 265 to 2MB, which is more than the total L2 of the triple core X3 450 above. With one less core but more cache, it will be interesting to see where the X2 sits performance-wise. Everything else is the same with the X2 including HyperTransport 3.0 and support for both AM2+ and AM3 motherboards along with DDR2 and DDR3 memory support.
Now that we have seen the newest batch of CPUs, let's see how they perform for us.