When AMD first rolled out a triple-core chip, it smelt like a desperate move by a company struggling to stay relevant in the face of Intel running rampant. What, therefore, should you make of the latest cut-price tripler, the AMD Athlon II X3 435?

In practice, it doesn't really matter what AMD's motivations are. All that counts is whether the Athlon II X3 435 delivers competitive performance at this price point. It's certainly up against some pretty stiff in-house competition from the likes of the quad-core AMD Athlon II X4 620. OK, the triple-core 435 runs 300MHz faster at 2.9GHz. But can that really make up for a missing core?

The Athlon II X3 435 must also do battle with the dual-core AMD Phenom II X2 550 and triple-core AMD Phenom II X3 720. Both are based on AMD's ritzier Deneb processor die but only cost a little more. As for Intel chips, it will be interesting to see if the Athlon II X3 makes for a realistic cut price alternative to some of Intel's latest dual-core, quad-thread processors such as the Core i5 661.