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AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
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by Rob Williams on May 29, 2009 in AMD Processors

For each component that can go into a PC, there are usually countless models to choose from, and the CPU scheme of things is no different. For those looking to spend around $250, the options are AMD’s Phenom II X4 955 and Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q9550. AMD is confident that their product delivers a better value, so let’s check to see if that’s the case.

Introduction

When AMD launched their long-awaited AM3-based processors last month, the X3 720 and X4 810, one thing was lacking… a high-end Quad-Core part. On the AM2+ side, we’ve had the X4 940 since Phenom II’s release, so what about AM3? Well, enthusiasts had to wait a little bit longer for that one, but late last month, the company released the X4 955 Black Edition, which became the fastest Phenom processor to date.

What happens to the X4 940, then? At this point, nothing, but there’s little doubt that it will be wiped off the roadmap eventually, especially as DDR3 modules have become more affordable than ever. AMD also released a new budget part last month, the Athlon X2 7850. This Dual-Core chip clocks in at 2.8GHz, and at ~$70, it’s a great value.

If you’re wondering what took us so long to get this 955 article up, you’re not alone. And while it’s not a valid excuse, I lost track of it while working on other things, so apologies for the late posting. As the 955 is still AMD’s flagship processor though, a late review is still entirely relevant (*phew*).

Before we jump into a look at the processor, one important thing to point out is AMD’s push on their Dragon platform, which consists of a CPU, GPU, motherboards and software. No other company currently offers such a complete package of parts to the consumer, so their bragging rights are valid (things will change once Intel’s Larrabee hits, although its impact is obviously yet to be seen).

Closer Look at AMD’s Phenom II 955 Black Edition

As mentioned above, the 955 becomes AMD’s fastest Phenom II processor, and at 3.2GHz, it competes nicely with many of Intel’s offerings. From AMD’s mouth though, the 955 tackles the Q9550 head-on. From a pricing standpoint, AMD’s CPU is currently ~$15 less-expensive, so if performance comes close to that of the Q9550, it will be a good buy.

It’s also important to mention that one benefit the X4 955 offers over the Q9550 is that it’s an unlocked chip, meaning there are no limits to the overclocking potential, except from what kind of stress the silicon can handle. The multiplier is unlocked, so even if you don’t want to touch the base frequency, you’re still able to crank that simple figure, along with voltages, and hit a sweet overclock.

Like the X4 940 before it, the X4 955 has a TDP of 125W, but boosts the HT Bus to 4000MHz, from 3600MHz. It’s also worth noting that if you wanted to save a little bit of money, and overclocking isn’t a huge concern, another option is the X4 945, which offers an identical clock speed of the original Phenom II 940, but with a boosted bus. The difference in pricing to you is about $20.

CPU Name
Cores
Clock
Cache (L2/L3)
HT Bus
Socket
TDP
1Ku Price
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
4
3.2GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
125W
$245
AMD Phenom II X4 945
4
3.0GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
125W
$225
AMD Phenom II X4 940
4
3.0GHz
2+6MB
3600MHz
AM2+
125W
$195
AMD Phenom II X4 920
4
2.8GHz
2+6MB
3600MHz
AM2+
125W
$195
AMD Phenom II X4 810
4
2.6GHz
2+4MB
4000MHz
AM3
95W
$175
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE
3
2.8GHz
1.5+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
95W
$145
AMD Phenom II X3 710
3
2.6GHz
1.5+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
95W
$125

For the $245 asking price, the X4 955 certainly looks like a great option on paper, but we all know that it’s the raw performance that decides whether a CPU wins or loses, so let’s first tackle our testing methodology, and then get right into our test results.