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Overclocking Phenom 9500 - Part I - How i7 Sucks

posted Jul 7, 2009, 9:39 AM by Victor Zakharov   [ updated Jul 23, 2009, 12:17 PM ]

Introduction

First, I’m not a big overclocker. Second, I’m not going to use any TEC coolers for ultra fast performance. Third, I don’t have a canister of liquid nitrogen. So, nothing fancy, just air, common non-black processor and a little customized case are going to be involved. If you think it’s pathetic, just don’t read lines below. But if you value your money and want something for cheap, keep going. Still reading? Great! Just for you I’m going to reveal a little secret. 25K+ of CPU marks in 3DMark Vantage. It’s even more than i7 975 Extreme.  Curious how I got those numbers? I knew you would be interested!

My build:

CPU: Phenom X4 9500 2.2 GHz
MB: Gigabyte GA-790X-UD4P
RAM: 2x2GB, DDR2-800 Patriot EL
GPU: GF 8800GTS 512MB

Procedure

There’s a great tool called AMD overdrive which helps overclocking. You know it? Forget about it! It’s very unstable, at least on Windows 7 RC, which is the OS I’m running for quite a while. So I go directly to BIOS and raise HT reference frequency from 200 MHz to 220 MHz. Now it’s reported as 10% OC, which you can get from a simple formula. However, the real performance boost is different, lower actually.

To the numbers!

Phenom 9500 has a stock HT frequency of 200MHz HT and 11x multiplier, which (no magic here) results in 2.2 GHz processor speed. When I push HT up 10%, the new speed is 2.42 GHz, which is indeed 10% higher. Should be 10% faster as well. But don’t be so fast with conclusions.

Yes, I got it stable at ~2.4GHz running several tests including 3DMark, PCMark and several video games.  But according to 3DMark Vantage, performance boost (judging by CPU score) was only 7%. Well, it’s not a big number, but it’s still better than i7. What, I said i7? Yes, I did really say that, and I’ll emphasize: Intel i7 975 Extreme… sucks, because my build runs faster (in terms of processor, of course). See screenshot below:

That’s a weird magic, but I love to see my 100$ processor owns that of 1000$ value. It even makes no sense to upgrade. Why should I? People on Phenom II X4 955 only get 11K marks, which is real bad compared to this one. For this I also have to thank 3DMark and its developers. Other tests just don’t show such a great performance.

What Else

Luckily I also got memory bandwidth from 8.8 GB/s to ~10GB/s and latency from 115ns to 107ns. So if the application is memory intensive, I may hope to get better results, for up to 10%! Who knows?!
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