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AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £65
inc VAT

This fast, dual-core, bargain processor provides plenty of performance for most tasks.

This is the first Phenom-branded processor to have only two processing cores, with previous models being triple- or quad-core designs. Other than that, it’s very similar to other Phenom II processors we’ve seen recently.

Like the recent X3 and X4 chips, this is an AM3 processor, but it will work in many AM2+ motherboards as well. It supports both DDR2 and DDR3 memory, and has the same 2GHz HyperTransport bus speed as the more expensive X3 and X4s. There’s 512KB of L2 cache for each core and a massive 6MB shared L3 cache too.

Its 3.1GHz clock speed is outdone only by the top-of-the-range 3.2GHz X4 955 Black Edition (see What’s New, Shopper 258), which costs almost three times as much. Like that processor, this Black Edition chip has an unlocked multiplier, which makes it easier to overclock without affecting other components. At its standard speed it scored an impressive 91 overall in our benchmarks.

Its closest competitor is the AMD Phenom II X3 720. Predictably, the X2 550 was quicker in our single-core image-editing test but slower in our multi-core video-encoding test. Its large cache made it much faster in our multitasking test than the Athlon X2 250. It was also quicker than Intel’s Core 2 Duo E7400, which costs around £95 including VAT.

Given its low price (almost £40 less than the X3 720 and nearly half the price of the X4 920), the X2 550 Black Edition is a bargain. It’s our recommended processor for anyone who doesn’t do a lot of processor-intensive video encoding.

Basic Specifications

Processor core Callisto
Rating ****
Processor clock speed 3.1GHz
Processor socket AM3
Processor process 45nm
Processor number of cores two
Processor supported instructions MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSE4a, Enhanced 3DNow!, NX bit, AMD64, Cool’n’Quiet, AMD-V
Processor multiplier x15.5
Processor external bus 200MHz (2GHz HyperTransport)
Level 1 cache 2x 128KB
Level 2 cache 2x 512KB
Processor level 3 cache 6MB
Supported memory type up to DDR2 1066MHz or DDR3 1333MHz
Processor power rating (TDP) 80W
Price £65


Shopper 2.0 Image-Editing 111
Shopper 2.0 Video-Editing 78
Shopper 2.0 Multitasking 99
Shopper 2.0 Overall 91
Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA 57.8fps

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