PCWizKid has been eagerly awaiting the new mainstream low power consumption AM3's that are dual core. The wait is over with the new Athlon II X2 250 and Phenom II X2 550 BE. Both are AM3 socket CPU's which are backwards compatible with AM2+ motherboards (check your motherboard manufacturer for a BIOS upgrade) and are flexible to be used with either DDR2 or DDR3 memory. This has always amazed me how well AMD has positioned itself in ensuring that those people on a budget can upgrade the CPU without having to buy a new motherboard and memory.
Not too long ago we reviewed the top of the line Phenom II X4 955 BE which was the flagship AM3 CPU a few months ago (recently the Phenom II X4 965 was released), today we take a step back and review a set of AMD's mainstream CPU's for those looking to spend less for now while getting better performance than what you are currently running. Both of these are dual core cpu's , the Phenom II X2 being a black edition (unlocked CPU bus and multiplier) promise to give value based on the price point. Lets take a closer detailed look at each of these.
Video Review - Athlon II X2 250
TEST SYSTEM SPECS
PCWizKid's test system uses the AMD Phenom II processors, AMD 790GX based motherboards, and the well known ATI HD Radeon 4800 series graphics cards. This combination is referred to as the "Dragon" platform.
- AMD AM3 Athlon II X2 250 @3Ghz to 3.37Ghz overclocked - Jetway HA08 AM3 socket ATX motherboard - Tuniq TX-3 Thermal Grease (Recommended over the default stock included material) - 4GB Corsair DDR3 1600 (at 8-8-8-24 and 1.7volts timings) - Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4870 1GB Toxic Edition - Seagate 7200.12 SATA HDD 500GB - In Win Commander 1200 Watt Power Supply - Lian Li PC-7FW Case - SilverStone NT06 CPU Cooler - Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit - Ambient room temperature 20C or 68F - All tests are performed at 1280x1024 resolution for consistency in results and comparisons with other system tests.
Game settings for benchmarks are always maxed out at either Very High or Enthusiast levels when available.
3dmark06, 3dVantage, SiSandra 2009, Everest,CPU-Z and many other of the latest PC Game titles, tools and utilities were used in the benchmarking process to make it complete.
Athlon II X2 250 Specifications
Model Number & Core Frequency
X2 250 = 3.0GHz
L1 Cache Sizes
64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (256KB total L1 per processor)
L2 Cache Sizes
1MB of L2 data cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
Memory Controller Type
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
Memory Controller Speed
Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported
Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-6400 (DDR2-800MHz) -AND- PC3-8500 (DDR3-1066MHz)
HyperTransport 3.0 Specification
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Total Processor-to-System Bandwidth
Up to 33.1GB/s bandwidth [Up to 17.1 GB/s total bandwidth (DDR3-1066) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
Up to 28.8GB/s bandwidth [Up to 12.8 GB/s total bandwidth (DDR2-800) + 16.0GB/s (HT3)]
45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Die Size
Approximate Transistor count
~ 758 million
As demonstrated in PCWizKid's video reviews the benchmarks for the Athlon II X2 250 shows that a budget CPU for under $80 US can give amazing performance. The gaming benchmarks alone demonstrate the Athlon II was able to beat the other dual core CPU's such as the Intel E8400. It also pulled ahead in many other benchmarks such as PCMark Vantage as seen in the video review. The low power consumption and the amazing cool temperatures at overclocked speeds also proved the potential the Athlon II X2 250 has for the casual enthusiast looking to push it to its limits easily. The 3.1GHz Phenom II X2 550 BE is fairly even to the 3GHz E8400. The Phenom II X2 costs about $100 US whereas the Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 costs $165 US which makes the AMD an attractive alternative. PCWizKid also was impressed at the Phenom II X2 550 temperatures which at stock and even when we overclocked it to a high 3.8Ghz!!! Overall the AMD-based systems we tested were stable, were energy efficient and potential for overclocking without much effort. A terrific mainstream choice. PCWizKid gives these CPU's a Recommended Award.