I doubt that anyone will argue that all currently produced AMD Phenom II processors boast very attractive price-to-performance ratio. Triple-core representatives of this family, Phenom II X3, are also no exception. They are very interesting solutions in their price range and their triple-core architecture offers noticeably higher performance during multi-threaded load than dual-core Core 2 Duo E7000 with similar price tags. Since multi-threaded computing gets better adopted by various software developers, including game developers, of course, triple-core processors become faster than their dual-core rivals in a significant number of tasks.
Phenom II X3 processors can also be of great interest to computer enthusiasts. They offer not only good frequency potential that is sufficient for successful competition against overclocked Core 2 Duo CPUs, but also may become quad-core with certain amount of luck on your side. This undocumented feature allows enabling the blocked fourth CPU core that with some probability may turn out fully functional. So, taking into account the possibility to use Phenom II X3 in modes other than the officially defined by the spec, it may deliver an impressive performance boost and hence step up to the level of higher-priced solutions.
In fact, the only immediate weakness of the Phenom II X3 CPUs is their power consumption. These processors are absolutely unfit for energy-efficient systems. Three cores and relatively high core voltage make them yield not only to dual-core Intel solutions from the same price range, but also to entry-level quad-core CPUs. So, the transition to 45nm process didn’t make Phenom II processors, and especially triple-core ones, an attractive choice from the performance-per-watt standpoint.
Summing up everything we have just said we have to admit that if we disregard the power consumption issues, then AMD does have a very good 45nm alternative to dual-core competitor’s solutions in the mainstream price segment. However, despite the microarchitectural improvements, adoption of the new production process, higher clock speeds and DDR3 SDRAM support, AMD is still behind the top dual-core competitor solutions on the performance scale. And it means that as time passes, things will get harder for AMD in the processor market, especially when Intel launches their low-cost 32nm Nehalem CPUs in the end of this year.