For the most part of last year, there were scarce good news to report from AMD. It wasn't until the end of the year that new Radeon graphics cards were out, and the eagerly awaited Phenom processors were launched. Unfortunately for AMD, it was a rocky start with the quad-cores that never really had a chance against the speedier and should we say, bug-free Intel Core 2 Quads.

Nevertheless, AMD known for its fighting underdog spirit, has now relaunched the Phenom with the B3-stepping, which we looked at just recently. The B3-stepping has not exactly breathed new life into the Phenom processors, but it has given AMD a chance to regroup and retarget its products, forcedly aiming at cheaper and more affordable Intel processors.

This being the case, it is now possible to purchase an AMD 2.5GHz quad-core processor for just $235. At this price point, the Phenom X4 9850 can deliver an impressive level of performance.

While the battle to conquer the high-end enthusiast market never took place, AMD is fighting hard to make a reasonable impression in the mid-range (mainstream) market. Just recently they sent in some reinforcements to help tackle the lower end spectrum.

The latest processor series from AMD is a little unusual as it makes use of not one, two, or even four cores, but rather three! That's right, the new Phenom X3 carries an unusual core configuration, and I guess the question most of you are probably asking yourselves (as we did) is why? The most reasonable explanation is that this still allows AMD to sell Phenom X4 processors with a defective core, minimizing their loss. Second, it gives some leverage for AMD to compete with Intel's dual-core processors, being able to pull the "additional core" card.

But is that really so? To some, one of the biggest downfalls of the Phenom X4 series is that it was pitched as a quad-core solution. Because the software market still has to mature to accommodate quad-core processors (and sometimes even dual cores) a vast majority of applications won't see huge benefits out of the extra cores. Games in particular are known for not scaling appropriately beyond two cores, at least the current generation of titles. Not surprisingly then, gamers were most disappointed to find the Phenom X4 was playing second best to a strong line-up of dual-core Intel processors.

However it's hardly all about games in the world of processors, and when you look at how the Phenom X4 performs in business-type applications, it doesn't fare bad at all. Yet still, at this point in time dual-core processors scale better and sell in larger numbers, and AMD was in need of a boost to take on the Intel Core 2 Duo, hence the new Phenom X3 series.

The Phenom X3 family consists of three new processors: the 8450 (2.10GHz), 8650 (2.30GHz) and 8750 (2.40GHz).