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AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £56
inc VAT

Although both the 7850 and 7750 processors carry the now elderly Athlon name, they’re based on the same processing core as the original Phenom.

This may be confusing but it’s nothing new, as Intel resurrected the Pentium name for its budget Core 2 Duo-based chips.

The Athlon X2 7850 and 7750 Black Edition are dual-core processors. Like the original Phenoms, they have a 512KB L2 cache per core and a 2MB shared L3 cache. In comparison, the new Phenom II chips have a huge 6MB cache. Both Athlon’s are compatible with AM2 and AM2+ motherboards, although you may need a BIOS update (check your motherboard manufacturer’s website).

The only difference between the two chips is that the 7850 is 100MHz faster. This barely registered in our benchmarks, so buy whichever one you can find for less. Both processors are labelled ‘Black Edition’, so they have unlocked multipliers for overclocking.

If you’re planning to build a budget PC, either of these chips is suitable. Their main competitor is the 2.5GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200, which performs almost identically to the 7850 in our new benchmarks. It costs just £55 including VAT from, so there’s little between them in price too. The Athlons are a better bet if you plan to buy a motherboard with onboard graphics, as the ATI integrated chipsets are better than Intel’s current efforts. However, the Intel processor uses a 45nm manufacturing process, so it runs cooler and is more efficient.

If you’re upgrading an AM2-based PC with a sub-2.0GHz processor, either chip will provide a marked performance increase. If you’re building a new PC, there’s little to choose between these two and Intel’s Pentium Dual-Core E5200. Given current concerns over energy usage and pricing, though, we’d probably opt for an Intel-based PC.

Basic Specifications

Processor core Kuma
Rating ****
Processor clock speed 2.8GHz
Processor socket AM2+
Processor process 65nm
Processor number of cores two
Processor supported instructions N/A
Processor multiplier x14
Processor external bus 200MHz (1.8GHz HyperTransport)
Level 1 cache 2x 128KB
Level 2 cache 2x 512KB
Processor level 3 cache 2MB
Supported memory type DDR2 667/800/1066
Processor power rating (TDP) 95.00W
Price £56

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