Unfortunately, we can’t yet state that there is anything where AMD is indisputably better than its competitor. But it doesn’t at all mean that the new dual-core processors turned out bad. On the contrary, the new Phenom II X2 and Athlon II X2 look more than revolutionary against the background of their predecessors. While previous dual-core AMD processors could only be positioned against the youngest budget Intel Pentium CPUs and not without numerous allowances, now we have every right to say that AMD is offering competitive dual-core choices closing the gap in the $80-$100 price range.
Phenom II X2 processors that made us say “wow!” more than once during this test session look especially attractive. Their major advantages include high (for their price point) performance in games, office applications and video encoding tasks, as well as a chance of enabling two additional cores. These qualities make Phenom II X2 extremely attractive even despite pretty high power consumption for dual-core CPUs and not the best overclocking scores. In other words, thanks to the new Phenom II X2 processors AMD has real opportunity to take some market share away from the competing Core 2 Duo solutions.
However, we are a little concerned with the availability of these processors. Since they are based on the quad-core semiconductor Deneb dies, their production is not too rewarding for AMD. Therefore, they will most likely be made from what cannot be used for quad- and triple-core processors. And it in its turn means that Phenom II X2 production volumes will be directly connected to the 45nm process yields and production volumes of higher-end processors rather than consumer demand. This is exactly why the market should be ready to experience certain shortage of the new Phenom II X2 processors followed by inevitable price increase.
It is a different processor family that is destined to become a true mass dual-core solution – Athlon II X2. It certainly has a few drawbacks compared with Phenom II X2. These processors are based on their own semiconductor die called Regor that has no L3 cache. As a result, Athlon II X2 runs slower in a number of applications. In fact, we can even state that these processors can only compete successfully against top Pentium solutions, but not against junior Core 2 Duo models. Besides, Athlon II X2 has no hidden bonuses for us, like the opportunity to unlock any additional cores.
However, the new Athlon II X2 family is still a tremendous improvement compared with the previous generation Athlon X2 processors. The new CPUs boast very good overclocking potential, consume a lot less power and, of course, run faster. Moreover, AMD will definitely not stop here and Athlon II X2 family should very soon expand not only towards higher clock speeds but also towards lower levels of heat dissipation and power consumption.
And of course, how could we deny the fact that AMD’s pricing strategy used for promotion of the new 45nm Phenom II X2 and Athlon II X2 processors, as well as all other CPU models, is extremely attractive from the consumer standpoint. It is based on a very simple rule: any Phenom II and Athlon II processor models offer higher average performance than the solutions from Intel with the same price tag.