As with previous generations, the top processor in AMD's lineup bears the BE or "Black Edition" moniker. These chips have been selected for their superior performance and are graced with a fully unlocked multiplier. The only quad X4 BE right now is the 940, a 3.0Ghz chip that was one of the first to be launched, and thus is only AM2+ compatible. AMD followed this up last month with the tri core X3 BE 720, running at 2.8Ghz and fully AM3 compliant. There will soon be a quad AM3 BE chip available but for right now if you want an unlocked multiplier with DDR3 your choice is limited to the 720 X3 BE.
Of course AMD's tri core processors are nothing more than a quad with one core disabled. Whether that core wasn't functional or if it simply didn't pass muster, AMD has managed to find a market for these chips as an inexpensive bridge between dual and quad cores. But with only three cores, is the 720 even a viable upgrade for someone with a first generation Phenom quad or is it just a hamstrung slug of silicon? Join me as I aim to find out!