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AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition review

AMD Phenom II X4 955 - A Timely Upgrade

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Introduction

When the Going Gets Tough, AMD Ups the Ante

It has been nearly four months since the first Phenom II was officially made available and since its initial release of the X4 940 'Black Edition' and the X4 920 Socket AM2+ processors, AMD has started offering DDR3 compatible processors via the newer AM3 socket compliant CPUs. Oddly, these newer AM3 socket compliant processors debuted as lower clocked models (such as the Phenom II X4 810) and it was ironic since DDR3 is generally geared for higher caliber processors with better performance potential when paired with high speed memory. It's a good thing these AM3 processors are backward compatible and will work on existing AM2+ motherboards since nobody in their right mind would actually choose a mainstream processor and pair it with expensive DDR3 memory which doesn't help boost its performance . Even at an overclocking angle, the cost differential is better used to get a higher clocked Phenom II processor instead.

Finally, on the 23rd of April, AMD has started offering in quantity of their new high speed Phenom II processors based on the AM3 socket. These are the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition and Phenom II X4 945 processor. Architecturally, they are exactly identical to the existing Phenom II processors, but the 955 model operating at 3.2GHz takes AMD one step closer to its archrival's Core i7 territory. Thankfully its thermal design power envelope hasn't increased and it remains at 125 watts. The 945 model is basically the same 3GHz Phenom II X4 940 model on the AM2+ package which has been updated to support DDR3 via its newer AM3 packaging (and the higher clocked HT bus and memory controller).

While it would have greatly helped reduce the lineup clutter if all Phenom II processors debuted with the newer socket AM3 package, as the saying goes, "Better later than never". The existing Phenom II X4 940 and 920 on the AM2+ packaging will soon slide off the charts since the newer models using the AM3 package are backward compatible to existing motherboards. At the moment, here's how the newcomers stack up with the existing Phenom II processors:-

AMD Phenom II Processor Family
New Phenom II AM3 Processors
Processor Model Clock Speed L2 Cache L3 Cache HyperTransport Bus Memory Controller Speed Max TDP (W) Retail Price (US$) Availability
X4 955 'Black Edition' 3.2GHz 512KB x 4 6MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 125 $245 Now (PiB)
X4 945 3.0GHz 512KB x 4 6MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 125 $225 Now (PiB)
Existing Phenom II AM3 Processors
X4 910 2.6GHz 512KB x 4 6MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 95 N.A Now (Tray)
X4 810 2.6GHz 512KB x 4 4MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 95 $175 Now (PiB)
X4 805 2.5GHz 512KB x 4 4MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 95 N.A Now (Tray)
X3 720 'Black Edition' 2.8GHz 512KB x 3 6MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 95 $145 Now (PiB)
X3 710 2.6GHz 512KB x 3 6MB 2.0GHz 2.0GHz 95 $125 Now (PiB)
Existing Phenom II AM2+ Processors
X4 940 'Black Edition' 3.0GHz 512KB x 4 6MB 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 125 $195 Now (PiB)
X4 920 2.8GHz 512KB x 4 6MB 1.8GHz 1.8GHz 125 $189 Now (PiB)

Since it's already established in our past article that DDR3 brought minimal improvements at best to the Phenom II processors, we shall not focus on the 945 model since it's rather similar to the previously reviewed 940 Black Edition . Instead we shall focus on how the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition fairs against equivalent processors of its price points. Read on for test assessment and the results of AMD's new flagship processor. But first, here's a CPU-Z screenshot of its basic info in case you're interested:-