AMD has successfully transitioned to the 45nm manufacturing process, giving the Phenom II series the freedom it needs to prove that it has what it takes to compete with the Intel Core 2 series. Their recent launch in the form of the Phenom II X4 955 consisted of a 3.20 GHz section with support for the AM3 socket, while maintaining compatibility with older AM2 cards.
At $ 245, the Phenom II X4 955 remains AMD's flagship desktop processor to this day, offering top performance at a competitive price. From there, you can see that the rest of AMD's desktop offerings belong to the mainstream or value sector. With the arrival of the X4 955 last April, the older 940 and 920 CPUs received a sharp price cut, both of which were sold for around $ 190.
The triple-core Phenom II X3 series consists of the models 720 (USD 140) and 710 (USD 120), which are clocked at 2.80 GHz and 2.60 GHz.
As of today, however, it is possible to get a handle on the Phenom II architecture even cheaper if we introduce the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition processor. The Phenom II X2 550 is based on the same specifications as the rest of the Phenom II family, but has half as many cores as a dual-core processor. The new processor operates at 3.10 GHz, about 100 MHz slower (per core) than the flagship X4 955, and is expected to be sold for an impressive $ 102.
AMD breathes new life into the Athlon brand with today's launch of the Athlon II X2 250. This new dual-core Athlon is the first of four models to be released. The X2 250 should be the fastest part that is clocked at 3.0 GHz. Rumor has it that there will also be triple and quad-core versions of the Athlon II, which may sound like an interesting offer, but will also likely become quite confusing when these myriad processors are all sold with a $ 250 cap.
The Athlon II X2 250 will also be launched for $ 87, effectively undercutting Intel's Pentium E5400 processor.
On the next few pages, we'll take a closer look at the specifications of both processors, run our usual benchmarks, test power consumption, and test the overclocking performance of these new AMD CPUs.