We received this processor quite some time ago. But loud and really interesting announcements of the first Phenom II processors were piling up, and so this processor was modestly waiting for its turn. Moreover, local retailers took their time with this model, even though they usually respond to new products within a couple of weeks or a month. As it always happens to new products, initial prices were too high for some time (relative to sale price plus a typical retail margin), so our review should be published just in time, when such processors become a practical choice.
So what's so special about this processor? The Kuma core is actually nothing more than Agena (Phenom I) with two disabled cores. As quad-core processors are getting less expensive, to say nothing of triple-core models, there seems to be little sense for AMD to launch new dual-core processors. Processors are apparently evolving towards multiprocessing. So dual-core processors as such will apparently be replaced by CPUs with more cores in future. Besides, most users do not fuss about results of separate tests. They understand that a budget computer cannot compete with workstations or gaming computers. What's much more important for subjective comfort is not gaining several seconds or even a couple of minutes for video encoding, but permanently high responsiveness to user commands. In other words, even if your antivirus decides to scan files as you work, the system starts updating your software, you download torrents at full speed, AND it does not affect your system responsiveness, people usually don't think about upgrades.
Anyway, it would have been strange to say that no one needs cheap dual-core processors. These processors will apparently thrive in the market for several years to come. This choice is logical -- it's easier to make more powerful cores in a dual-core processor (provide larger caches, raise clock rates, etc). So such processors will demonstrate higher results in applications that do not use more than two cores. And this situation suits users of inexpensive computers. After all, if you schedule computer scans and other maintenance procedures for the time you don't work with your computer, you can allocate all available resources for the main task. By the way, AMD offers a very useful utility (AMD Fusion for Gaming), which stops system services and background tasks, when you play games. This is a really effective solution against slow downs caused by external factors, especially in Windows Vista.
However, it was becoming inexpedient to develop the Athlon X2 line with the old core, because Athlon X2 6000 remained the top popular processor, and the 90nm 6400+ CPU was designed for other prices and market segment, and it was discontinued long ago. In this sense, the idea to launch dual-core processors based on the ready Phenom dice with only two effective cores looks logical. Even if the manufacturer has to drop prices for these processors, it will still be expedient -- the company increases the number of dice it can use, which would have had to go to waste otherwise. This way of getting processors with fewer cores is attractive for users primarily because such dual-core processors inherit L3 Cache from triple- and quad-core Phenoms (in this case it's2 MB). The second "conditionally-positive" advantage is that a larger die is easier to cool, disabled zones do not dissipate heat, but they take part in spreading it. However, it's a technical issue that interests mostly engineers. Desktop processors are now equipped with a metal cap (heatspreader) glued to the die, so there is no difference from users' point of view. And the relatively high clock rate (in terms of Agena core) definitely should have a positive effect on performance. That said, the trade price for Athlon X2 7750 is $79, which is only $3 as high as the price for Athlon X2 6000. So despite this significant difference in their indices, we do not expect any radical performance differences.
But let's not jump at conclusions, it's time to run our tests.
||Athlon X2 6000
||Athlon X2 7750
||Core 2 Duo E7200
|Process technology, nm
|Core clock, GHz
|Number of cores
|L1 cache, I/D, KB
|L2 Cache, KB
||2 x 512/2 x 1024
||2 x 512
|L3 cache, KB
(*) The maximum frequency supported by CPU memory controller; one can choose a lower frequency, if it's supported by a given memory standard (for example, DDR2-667 and DDR2-800 for processors supporting DDR2-1066); frequency and memory type of LGA775 processors are detected by the chipset.
(**) Unlocked for overclocking.
We should add a few words about characteristics of Athlon X2 6000. This processor has undergone three revisions, the first one had TDP=125 W. You may still come across such processors in stores, you can recognize them by the letters ADX in the beginning of their insignia. Even though the boxed modification came with a high-quality cooler with a copper base and heat pipes (up to one fourth of the price of this processor falls to such a cooler), it hardly makes sense to look for it in stores. Because the second revision, also manufactured by the 90nm fabrication process (Windsor core with 1MB cache), differs only by one parameter, namely TDP reduced to 89W. These processors are marked ADA (we used this very processor in our tests). And finally, the third revision, manufactured by the 65nm fabrication process, offers a clock rate increased by 100MHz, twice as small cache, and the same TDP. Its code starts with ADV.
What concerns characteristics of Athlon X2 7750, we have nothing much to add, except for the fact that being a top model (in the dual-core line), this processor traditionally gets an unlocked multiplier to make it easier to overclock.
Our choice of Intel processors for comparison hardly needs any comments. Pentium E5200 is the closest competitor in price (that we've tested in our lab), and Core 2 Duo E7200 is much more expensive, but we figured out that when you compare processors with different architectures it's illustrative to have results of direct competitors and other popular models, because performance ratios may vary much in different tests.
||Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H (780G)
||ASUS Maximus Extreme (X38)
- RAM: 4GB
- Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX
- HDD: Samsung HD401LJ (SATA-2)
- Coolers: Thermaltake TMG i1, Zalman CNPS9700 AM2
- PSU: Cooler Master RS-A00-EMBA
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