Quad-core CPU for $99 ... from AMD

Don't for one moment think that the war between Intel ad AMD is over and that Intel has won ... with the launch of the Athlon II X4 620 we have now entered the era of affordable quad-core computing.

Don't for one moment think that the war between Intel ad AMD is over and that Intel has won ... with the launch of the Athlon II X4 620 we have now entered the era of affordable quad-core computing.

Intel might have the Core i7 and Core i5 range out, which in terms of performance leaves AMD in their dust, but this latest piece of silicon from AMD is just as influential.

The Athlon II X4 620 is a 2.60GHz Socket AM3, 45nm part with a 95W TDP and which is quite closely related to the Phenom II X4. The biggest difference is that while the X4 620 has 512KB of L2 cache per core, there's no L3 cache. You can have a bargain price, or L3 cache ... there's no such thing as a free lunch!

What's really special about the 620 is price. For the first time buyers can get their hands on a quad-core CPU for under $100. You could pick up a CPU such as the aging Phenom X4 9650 for around $110 before, but compared to the X4 620 the 9650 is a dinosaur. Pair it with a AMD 785G-based motherboard (which has an integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU) and 2GB of DDR3 RAM and you have the foundation for a really sweet, and cheap, system.

Does this mean quad-core CPUs for everyone? Well, the price point is attractive enough, but you still need to shop wisely. For example, the dual-core  Athlon II X2 250 is a 3.0GHz part that's some $13 cheaper than the X4 620. If you spend most of your time in front of a word processor then the X2 250 is a better buy. However, if you start editing photos, encoding or transcoding video, or even spend a lot of time in Microsoft Excel, those four cores could make your life a lot easier.

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