Although AMD has had some exciting new mid- and entry-level chips come to market in the last several months, their top of the line Phenom II series has not seen much action since the beginning of the year. Oh sure, the Phenom II X2 was introduced in June, however just like the original Phenom II X3, this is simply one of the Deneb quads sporting disabled cores. And of course the top dog model has changed hands a few times, from the 940 BE AM2+ launched in January, to the later AM3 release of the 955 BE and then 965 BE, with increases to clock frequency to match. What started out as a 3.0Ghz processor evolved into a 3.2Ghz chip and finally a sizzling 140W TDP 3.4Ghz monster. We haven't seen anything clocked this fast with this much voltage since the 6400+ X2 Windsor.
But since we won't see AMD's new six-core desktop Thuban processor emerge until next year, what we have to feed off of in the mean time is a new Phenom II core revision, the C3. Beginning with the highest-clocked chip, the 965 BE, the new core will begin to filter down through the rest of the lineup through next year. Newer chips can be distinguished from their predecessors by the letter "M" in the part number in place of the previous "I". Enhancements to the core are expected to lower voltage requirements and thus reduce operating temperature, which can potentially lead to better, more stable overclocks. Is it worth the upgrade expense for a current Phenom II owner to make the change to the new revision though? Join me as I aim to find out!