Articles: CPU

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The recent launch of the new quad-core Phenom II X4 processor family created a real commotion not only the among AMD fans but also in the rest of the computer community. Not only AMD fan forums, but also some reputable technical publications sounded extremely excited about the new 45nm processors from Stars (K10) family. They pronounced the arrival of a new milestone product and resumed aggressive competition between AMD and Intel. In the meanwhile, a sensible view of Phenom II X4 features doesn’t really give us a lot of reasons to be that optimistic. Our recent extensive performance tests of these new processors showed that they can only be regarded as an alternative to the cheapest quad-core Intel CPUs and only with a certain proviso. Of course, compared with the old Phenom X4 CPUs, the frequency potential of the new 45nm cores in the new Phenom II X4 helped significantly increase their performance and improve their power consumption and heat dissipation characteristics. However, it was still not enough for AMD Phenom II processors to look as an indisputably better choice against the background of Intel Core 2 Quad. The only thing we can state with certainty is that Phenom II X4 processors are comparable only with quad-core Intel Core 2 Quad from the inexpensive Q8000 series.

Trying to make their new products more attractive, AMD stresses their good overclocking potential. It is true, during our test session we checked out Phenom II X4 940 from the Black Edition series that featured an unlocked clock frequency multiplier. We managed to easily overclock this processor from the nominal 3.0 GHz to 3.8 GHz with air-cooling alone. But unfortunately, even this achievement doesn’t make AMD Phenom II X4 processors more attractive than the competitor’s solutions. For example, after the recent price changes Core 2 Quad Q9400 processor costs almost the same as Phenom II X4 940 and they can overclock to the same 3.8 GHz with air cooling involved. However, they demonstrate higher performance due to “broader” Core micro-architecture that allows processing more instructions per clock.

At the same time, these arguments do not mean that those computer enthusiasts who use overclocking to achieve maximum performance should once and for all forget about AMD CPUs. However, they should be looking not at the top Phenom II X4 940 model, but at the cheaper Phenom II X4 920 CPU. It is priced comparably to Core 2 Quad Q8300, which features lower performance-per-megahertz than Core 2 Quad Q9400 because of smaller cache memory. Moreover, it doesn’t overclock as well as the latter because of the low multiplier. So, if Phenom II X4 920 processors can boast frequency potential not too much lower than that of their superior counterparts, they may have every chance to become the most optimal overclocker solution in their price range.

Our today’s article will discuss this particular matter in detail. We are going to try answering the question if AMD Phenom II X4 920 processor is a smart choice for an overclocker platform. Moreover, we are going to provide some practical recommendations on the best ways of achieving maximum overclocking results with these CPUs that have no unlocked frequency multiplier.

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