Best of the Best - Part 2 - AMD CPUs

In this, part two in my "best of the best" series, and in this post I'll be looking at AMD CPUs, again in three price brackets - Budget, mainstream and high-end. To give you even more value I'll also suggest a motherboard to match the CPU in each price bracket.

With great choice, comes great responsibility when it comes to picking the right part for the right job. One type of question that I field a lot is "What's the best XYZ for $XXX?"

To try to lift some of the fog surrounding what the best bang for the buck when it comes to CPUs and GPUs I've put together a series of posts that I will update on a regular basis looking at just that.

In this, part two in my "best of the best" series, and in this post I'll be looking at AMD CPUs, again in three price brackets - Budget, mainstream and high-end. To give you even more value I'll also suggest a motherboard to match the CPU in each price bracket.

Previous posts in series: Intel CPUs

Note: If you are interested in purchasing any of these components do a search using the terms I've highlighted in bold either via a search engine or at your favorite supplier.

Also note that all prices are approximate.

Quick-jump: Budget | Mainstream | High-end

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Budget

Just like I did for Intel CPUs, I'm going to give you a selection of AMD CPUs in the $50 - $60 price range to choose from.

At the low end of the price spectrum is the AMD Athlon II X2 240, a dual-core 2.8GHz part that retails for around $50. For a shade under $60 you can get the Athlon II X2 245, same as before except this one runs at 2.9GHz. Finally, for a shade over $60 you can get the Athlon II X2 250 which boosts the clock speed even further to 3.0GHz.

If you want to spend another $10 and take your budget to $70 then you can pick up the Athlon II X3 425, a triple-core processor that runs at 2.7GHz. If you are going to be handling multimedia on the PC, then this might be the better choicer of the set.

All the processors use Socket AM3 motherboards. A great board to complement any of these parts is the BIOSTAR MCP6P, which features on-board NVIDIA 6150 GPU for graphics. All in all a great deal for $40.

Budget AMD CPU summary

  • Athlon II X2 240 - Dual core - 2.8GHz - 2 x 1MB L2 cache - $50
  • Athlon II X2 245 - Dual core - 2.9GHz - 2 x 1MB L2 cache - $60
  • Athlon II X2 250 - Dual core - 3.0GHz - 2 x 1MB L2 cache - $60
  • Athlon II X3 425 - Triple core - 2.7GHz - 3 x 512KB L2 cache - $70

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Mainstream

With AMD processors being significantly cheaper than Intel's offerings, the mainstream segment of the market is at a lower price than it was when we looked at Intel CPUs. In fact, it's around the $100 mark.

Two CPUs stand out in this range. First is the quad-core AMD Athlon X4 630 that runs at 2.8GHz and retails for around $95. This is a great choice for those looking for plenty of cores to handle demanding multimedia work.

If you'd rather fewer cores with more power, then you want the AMD Phenom X2 560 Black Edition, which while only being a dual-core part it hums along at a cool 3.3GHz.

A good motherboard to go with these CPUs is the ASUS M4A77D which is a solid, reliable board that offers those who want too tweak the chance to try their hand at overclocking - all that for under $80.

Mainstream AMD CPU summary

  • AMD Athlon X4 630 - Quad core - 2.8GHz - 4 x 512MB L2 cache - $95
  • Phenom X2 560 Black Edition - Dual core - 3.3GHz - 2 x 512KB L2 cache - $95

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High-end

The high-end choice for those wanting to power their PCs with AMD silicon is a no-brainer. AMD has the six-core Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition processor. This runs at a whopping 3.2GHz and retails for around $270 - an absolute steal! Think about it - six cores for under $300. That's pure awesome.

A great motherboard to complement this fantastic CPU is the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula which offers plenty of tweakability to allow you to get the most from the unlocked Black Edition processor. This motherboard will set you back $220.

High-end AMD CPU summary

  • Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition - Hexa core - 3.2GHz - 6 x 512KB L2 cache - 6MB L3 cache - $220

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