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Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition is a big surprise

Updated Extreme unlocking with AMD Overdrive
Sun May 31 2009, 15:15

THE PHENOM II X2 550 Black Edition chip is much more than a simple "low-end" Phenom II. First tests show that not only is it a joy to overclock, but if you hook it up to the right mainboard, you can activate all four cores on the processor.

Yes, that's right. The cheapest Phenom II around can have all four cores activated... for free. Using AMD's OverDrive we were able to switch on all four cores through the ACC. Unexpected to say the least.

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This means four 3.1GHz cores, all with 512KB of active L2 cache and sharing 6MB of L3, just like a high end Phenom II X4 950.

Now, with four cores in hand we've set off to see precisely how far this can take us.

So far, we've had some trouble running 3D graphics benchmarks to the end, but pure arithmetical and multimedia benchmarks have run without a glitch, which leads us to believe our graphics card isn't quite up to spec. On the other hand, purely CPU benchmarks like Sandra CPU Arithmetic, Cinebench R10 and wPrime yielded almost linear gains with the two additional cores active.

Granted, your mileage may vary, but there is something uniquely rewarding about turning on the four cores with a simple "flip of the switch". That serious look on your face is followed by a narrowing of the eyes, and then you break out in a rather silly large grin.

We'll put up our benchmark results as soon as possible. µ

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