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I have a friend who is debating what kind of CPU he wants for his MSI 880GMA-E45 motherboard. There's the option of getting an Athlon quad-core, but seeing as the board has capabilities to unlock hidden cores on Phenom processors.

Would it be a more bang-for-buck solution to purchase a Phenom II X2 dual-core and unlock cores to use it as a quad-core? Comparing unlocked Phenom II X2 with Athlon II X4 processors of equal frequency, would the unlocked Phenom technically have better performance since there is more cache on Phenoms?

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If indeed you can unlock the extra cores on the Phenom, I would expect it to do better. However, your ability to unlock those cores is far from guaranteed — they are usually locked for a reason, and often end up not functional.

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