Does your system really need a ton of L3 cache in order to achieve dazzling performance? For all intents and purposes, AMD's 2.9GHz Athlon II X4 635 processor is the functional equivalent of its 3.0GHz Phenom II X4 945. Both CPUs are based on the AM3 socket, though the X4 945 sports a 15X multiplier instead of the Athlon II X4 635's 14.5X, for a slight difference in clock speeds.

The $120 X4 635 runs on a smaller die size, compared with the Phenom II X4 945. The biggest difference between the two chips is the omission of the Phenom II family's L3 cache. This doesn't affect the overall WorldBench 6 score of the Athlon II X4 635, however, as it's able to tie the Phenom II X4 945's score of 110. That said, Cinebench results show that the latter CPU is a stronger multitasker, but only to the tune of a 9.5 percent increase in performance.

OUR VERDICT

The Athlon II X4 635 shows that omitting a processor's L3 cache isn't necessarily a crippling blow to performance.