The five new AMD Socket AM3 processors are a welcomed addition to the Phenom II series, and those who have been waiting to update their processor can now pick out a processor and finally upgrade. The nice thing about these processors is that they will still work properly in AMD Socket AM2+ motherboards. AMD socket AM2+ motherboards will continue to sell well because DDR2 is still the dominant memory in the industry. Now that AMD Socket AM3 processors are available for as little as $115 for the AMD Phenom II X3 710, one can build an affordable system that still performs well.
The only bummer about the new socket is that you can’t buy a new Socket AM3 motherboard and use your old Socket AM2 or AM2+ processors in it since the pins don’t line up. Since AMD has shifted to a new socket that is no longer compatible with older processors and motherboards, now would be a good time to start saving to make a platform jump to the new socket. We are still running our AM2+ versus AM3 benchmark numbers and as soon as we have them complete we will be posting a follow-up article showing how much, if any, performance boost DDR3 has to offer.
The AMD Phenom II X4 810 proved to be a very nice processor that performed better than the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor. The Phenom II X4 810 was also fairly easy to overclock up to 3.84GHz, which is roughly 1.2GHz higher than the default frequency of 2.6GHz. With a decent overclock and being price competitive with Intel, this processor should do pretty well in the retail market. It makes you wonder how much better the benchmark results would have been if it had all 6 MB of cache, but there is nothing we can do about that now. For $175 this processor will turn a few heads over the coming months.
The AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition processor is an interesting one. The performance numbers for the chip were solid, but failed to impress at stock settings. With a price tag of just $145 this processor has the potential to be a budget overclocker, and that is exactly what we plan on finding out in a coming article. With the full amount of cache this triple-core processor should have what it takes to compete with many of the quad-core processors, but do consumers really want a triple-core processor? That question remains to be seen, but if AMD has a say in things they think triple-core has a place in the market place. The AMD Phenom II X3 720 showed in the benchmarks that it will give any Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 or E8500 processor a run for the money with threaded applications. With more applications supporting multiple cores it only makes sense that triple is better than dual, as enthusiasts have known for years.
One thing about the launch of the AMD Socket AM3 processors that seemed a bit strange was the lack of a flagship part. It is a shock that AMD didn’t pull out an AMD Phenom II X4 Black Edition running 3.4GHz or something like that as they have touted how well the new Phenom II cores scale when overclocked. Since Intel has the performance front won with the Core i7 Series, why not launch something on the top to make the battle a little more interesting? Our guess is that AMD wants to hit the mainstream market with parts that people can afford. It might not sound like good news to enthusiasts, but the mainstream market is where the vast majority of the chips sell. In this economy you have to keep the parts moving, and that looks like what AMD is doing with the launch of these five new processors.
Legit Bottom Line: A total of five new AMD Socket AM3 processors have arrived, and with them comes support for DDR3 memory kits at a price tag that won’t cause sticker shock.