UK Price (as reviewed): £65-70 (inc. VAT) - est. US Price (as reviewed): $79 MSRP
AMD Athlon X2 7550
UK Price (as reviewed): £55-60 (inc. VAT) - est. US Price (as reviewed): $69 MSRP
It feels like a strange time of year to be releasing a new CPU - a bit too close to Christmas when everyone is winding up for the year here in the UK. That's not a complaint though, because this is AMD's first Athlon dual core refresh for a while.
AMD's converted many of its Athlon X2s to 65nm nearly two years ago after it launched the 5000+ 'Brisbane' processor on its "Energy Efficient" 65nm process. These have been extended throughout the year, quietly replacing the old 90nm dual cores and even including new releases like the fantastic 45W 4850e as well.
AMD's new 'Kuma' core is also based on the same 65nm SOI (Silicon on Insulator) process, but it's now K10 cored just like the Phenoms. Keep reading, because I promise this is actually a good thing, at least in theory.
What the current Phenoms lack is clock speed and thermal overhead - four cores suck up all the available TDP and prevent high retail clocks and ludicrous overclocking that Intel's Core 2 Quads could achieve. While it does perform well (for its price) in a specifically multi-threading environment, not everyone cares for quad core and games for the most part still benefit from MHz, MHz and more MHz.
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What the K10 core offers is a large extra level of local cache, faster DDR2 memory support and other architectural enhancements we've already detailed, but bundled into a simpler dual core environment. This means it should theoretically offer the best of both worlds - the K10 advances with a thermal overhead for overclocking and pretty high core clock to start with.
Let's not forget that since AMD has put considerable effort elsewhere into its platform to beef up the Phenom appeal, these advances like the Advanced Clock Calibration in the latest SB750 southbrige, can also benefit this new dual core CPU as well. The last piece of the puzzle is that at just $79 it's really, really affordable - in fact, pretty much the same price as the Intel Core 2 Duo E5200 we constantly recommend in our monthly buyers guide.
So the question remains - on paper it has all the technical aspects right. but is it any good once it's in the socket?
Bar a few changes to the lettering, the new Athlon X2 7000 series CPUs are identical to current AM2+ CPUs