AMD's new quad-core Phenom II X4 945 and 955 Black Edition desktop chips hit retail stores and enthusiast review sites this morning. With higher clock speeds than previous models, aggressive pricing, and support for fast DDR3 memory, these chips compete with Intel's Core 2 Quad CPUs as mainstream performance processors.
Each chip has the same architecture as the original Phenom II X4's that came out a few months ago at CES. The $225 945 has a 3.0GHz clock speed, and the $245 955 Black Edition comes in at 3.2GHZ, but with an unlocked clock multiplier that makes it overclocking-friendly.
Perhaps the bigger deal with this chip release is that it gives AMD a fresh batch of desktop CPUs around which to market its Dragon desktop gaming platform. Dragon, if you're unfamiliar, describes AMD's ecosystem of CPUs, GPUs, and motherboard chipsets that, when incorporated together in a desktop, let you take advantage of various AMD-made overclocking and system-monitoring software tools designed to simplify the process of tweaking your PC for maximum gaming performance. The AM3-version of AMD's 790FX chipsets have also come out in volume since Dragon launched back in January, which means Dragon now supports DDR3 system memory.
The various tech enthusiast sites around the Web all have reviews posted of AMD's new chips. The consensus seems to be that the Phenom X4 II 955 competes fairly well against Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9550 chip, but the Core i7 920 (and its more expensive motherboard), maintains Intel's overall speed advantage. We saw the older Phenom II X4 chips ourselves in Dragon platform-based systems from Dell and Maingear. We haven't been pitched a system with these new chips yet, but it's likely a matter of time.
Enthusiast reviews of AMD's new Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition: