First of all, I would like to thank AMD for providing the tested AMD Phenom II X4 840 processor sample, MSI for providing the 890FXA-GD70 motherboard and Links for providing the rest of the test setup.
The Phenom II X4 800 series is back, and its first representative, the Phenom II X4 840 looks to offer way too much for its price tag. Quad core processor, Phenom II brand, clocked to high 3.20 GHz, acceptable 95 W TDP, and all that for just $102. It all looks great at first glance, but AMD made almost a sneaky move and pushed the cheaper and slower Propus core to Phenom II branding with constant bumping of clock speeds. On the other hand, AMD is also playing it more than fair, because asking just $102 for a processor like this one is a real bargain, and the new Phenom II X4 800 series could be a nice answer to Intel's coming lower end Sandy Bridge models, at least for the time being.
Packaging and ContentsWe received our test sample in tray package, but the retail version packaging comes with AMD certified cooler, manual and three year warranty.
Phenom II X4 840
Long after retiring the Phenom II X4 800 series, AMD is introducing a new member to the forgotten family, the Phenom II X4 840 quad core processor. The new model comes with quite high clock frequencies and very low price tag. Low enough to raise your eyebrows in disbelief. AMD is asking just $102 for quad core Phenom II processor, and if some of you can remember, that was the starting price for 2.60 GHz Athlon II X4 620 introduced a year ago, so one would think AMD came a long way, and one would be somewhat deceived.
What AMD has done here is mix up the Athlon II quad Propus core with Phenom II brand. After introduction of Athlon II X4 645, quad core Athlon II models clocking above 3.0 GHz were starting to catch up to slower Phenom II models, so AMD decided to upgrade the low cost Propus core to Phenom II brand. In other words, what we have here is Athlon II X4 "650" renamed to Phenom II X4 800 series. In terms of specifications, it is identical to every other Athlon II X4 SKU, and the one thing that differed Athlon II from Phenom II series, L3 cache is no more.
The older Phenom II X4 800 series of processors had cut down L3 cache, to 4 MB. The new Phenom II X4 800 series, starting with 840 model we have here, has no L3 cache at all. Not a big surprise since it's using Propus core, but it comes as a surprise that AMD decided to take this step, and confuse its buyers even more. But then again, for just over $100 there's no room for complaints, right?
Either way, what we have here is a budget quad core processor, based on Propus core used in Athlon II X4 and X3 series, and clocked to 3.20 GHz. Phenom II X4 840 is based on C3 revision of Propus core, just like the Athlon II X4 645 we reviewed recently, so the benefits of lower power consumption and lower heat output are present here as well. The processor's frequency multiplier is locked to x16, and only adjustable downwards, so the only way to overclock is via raising the HTT bus. Core voltage is set a bit higher than Phenom II models, to 1.40 V, but TDP is still kept to acceptable 95W.
Like any other Phenom II or Athlon II model, backwards compatibility with AM2+ boards and DDR2 memory is here, and very useful considering the market this processor is targeting.
Since we covered all of the architectural features of AMD's Propus core in our first encounter with Athlon II X4, I would like to redirect you to the X4 620 spec page of the review if you're interested in more details about the processor core itself (LINK).