AMD Phenom II 720 and 810 AM3 Reviewajmatson - February 8, 2009
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With the new line of Phenom II processors anticipation and expectations are growing. The previously reviewed Phenom II 940 was a beast of a processor, though it only supports DDR2 memory, so there is not any room for expansion into the faster DDR3 market. The new AM3 processors tackle this situation and allow you to run the best of both worlds with DDR2 and DDR3 when the AM3 motherboards are released. When it came down to numbers I was surprised at how well a Triple Core processor was able to jump on the heels of some of the Quad Core processors and sometimes even taking the lead in the video benchmarks. Quite honestly, I did not expect this type of performance from a CPU with fewer cores. Overclocking the Phenom II X3 720 is quite easy since it is a Black Edition processor with an unlocked multiplier. I had little trouble getting an almost 1GHz overclock with a combination of the multiplier and the bus speed. Overclocking the Phenom II X4 810 took a little more work since the multiplier is locked though I still achieved a respectable overclock on it. Since there are no AM3 motherboards currently on the market on which I could test DDR3, the scores here are reflective of ageing technology and we will visit them again once the AM3 boards are out with the faster memory for a comparison of the other side of the CPU.
For head to head performance between the AM3 processors and the AM2+ cousin, I was not impressed. The X3 720, which has a higher clock speed, beat the X4 810 with an additional core in almost every benchmark test. I would like to have seen the X4 810 with higher clocks since we just saw an impressive chip with the Phenom II X4 940 that had clock speeds of 3.0GHz and scores that beat both the X3 720 and the X4 810. I am hoping when paired with an AM3 motherboard and DDR3 memory that the scores increase and are more impressive.
When it comes to price versus performance, the score differences, especially with the game benchmarks, the AMD AM3 processors take the win here. The Phenom II X3 720 will be releasing at around $145 per 1KU and the Phenom II X4 810 will be about $175 per 1KU. That is well below the new Core i7 920, which is running around $300 at the moment. Considering the AM3 processors are designed to run in AM2+ motherboards such as the 790GX chipset, which average $140, that gives you the ability to purchase a CPU and motherboard for about what the Intel Core I7 920 CPU alone will cost. With the ability to upgrade to DDR3 on the new AM3 motherboards coming our way, you have a nice future proof path that will keep current costs down with DDR2 based hardware while giving you respectable performance.
- Quad and Triple Core technology
- Black Edition processor for the X3 720
- Decent overclocking headroom
- Inexpensive processor for the power
- Gaming performance
- Price for performance
- No DDR3 motherboard support currently available
- Quad core AM3 processor outperformed by the Triple core