We haven't featured AMD processors in our deal posts very often lately, but AMD's new Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition is a special case. As we discovered in our benchmarks, this chip manages to outperform Intel's popular Core 2 Duo E8400 overall despite having a lower price tag. AMD ships this thing with an unlocked upper multiplier, too, which makes overclocking a snap. (We managed to push our sample from the default 2.8GHz to 3.5GHz without much trouble.)
Buy.com currently sells the new triple-core Phenom for $149.99, which is within just $5 of AMD's volume price. By contrast, the cheapest Core 2 Duo E8400 listing on our price search engine is still around $165.
Although it supports DDR3 memory, the Phenom II X3 720 can happily work in current Socket AM2+ motherboards (and even some AM2 ones) with DDR2. There shouldn't be a performance penalty for going with the older memory type, either. That could make this CPU a great upgrade for folks with older, dual-core Athlon machines—or anyone looking to snag a nice, speedy processor in this price range. Also, unlike their LGA775 counterparts on the Intel side, current Socket AM2+ motherboards like the $115 Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4 should provide an open upgrade path all the way through next year.
Update: Newegg now offers the same processor for $149.99, too.
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