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720BE + Cooler or 955 Stock?

Last response: in Overclocking
November 17, 2009 5:15:30 PM

Question for the community:

I'm putting together a new build, I'm leaning towards AMD because I'm not going to hit the price point where 'Intel is better' for cpu processors, and I was wondering:

I can buy a 720 X3 BE for $120, and get a reasonable cooler (quiet yet cool) for about $35 bucks and try to overclock to 3.2Ghz


I can buy a 955 X4 for $180 (keeping stock cooler) and guarantee a 3.2 Ghz speed, get a certified fourth core for only 25 dollars more. Plus since shipping of the extra cooler is probably additional cost, plus the special thermal paste, it narrows the cost even more.

So, should I go for the cheap CPU and try to OC with a more OC-able board/cooler/etc or should I go with the X4 and leave it stock for nearly the same price?

Feels to me the answer is obvious, but I'm looking for more perspective.

More about : 720be cooler 955 stock

November 18, 2009 5:50:08 AM

How about getting the 955 and saving for the cooler? $30 will net you a hyper 212+ (was this what you had in mind?), which isn't that much to save for.

Sorry, might not be the answer you are looking for, but It's what I would honestly do.
November 18, 2009 1:15:44 PM

I was just asking a question about a 720 OC'd to 3.2 ghz but requiring a bigger cooler the same as the 955 @ 3.2 ghz but not requiring a cooler? Both give you 3.2ghz, but the 955 gives you an additional core and a 'guaranteed' 3.2 clock...all for a mere 20 bucks (assuming that you just stick with a stock cooler on the 955).

On the other hand, someone may point out in this thread (hint hint) that you can get to 3.2 ghz on standard cooling so the additional cost of the 3rd party cooler is unnecessary if you are just trying for 3.2 ghz. then the 720 looks more attractive.

On the other hand other hand, someone may point out that they haven't been able to get a stable 3.2 ghz OC on stock cooling with 720, which is making the 955 look more worthwhile.

I'm just looking for personal experiences with using the 720 to OC on stock cooling...although I realize as I'm saying it that it's unlikely that anyone would bother OC'ing without going with the extra cost of an aftermarket maybe there's not a lot of personal experience to be had....

Also, if the quality of OC depends on the quality of board, then that's just more additional cost.

The build I'm looking to put together will be a single video card setup (I find the latest gen cards are always preferable to paring up old technology), and so if I ever go with CF/SLI it will be with a card that has the dual chips on the same card. A lot of my decision making depends on the 'Build a Balanced PC' article (part 2) which has yet to be released, so while I wait, I'd just like to get some info on light OCing of the 720BE vs stock 945/955s.

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November 19, 2009 12:55:21 PM

I'm running a 720 and my roommate is running an Athalon quad core and for more games the quad core runs better. I'm OCd to 3.2Ghz and he's at 3.1G. I'm just throwing this out there if you wanted an even lower cost option that still performs well, but personally I'd go with the 955.
November 19, 2009 3:13:40 PM

I'm running a 720 and my roommate is running an Athalon quad core and for more games the quad core runs better. I'm OCd to 3.2Ghz and he's at 3.1G. I'm just throwing this out there if you wanted an even lower cost option that still performs well, but personally I'd go with the 955.

Ok, are you using stock cooling to get up to 3.2Ghz, or did you go with an improved cooler? What could that cooler that you're using (or equivalent) cost you now?

I actually was considering the Athalon II X4, but they said on this site that at higher Ghz, you begin to miss the lvl 3 cache. but maybe the'll do a Athalon II setup in one of the "balanced builder' articles..but I think that whole project is dead or something.

Thanks for chiming in, I was worried no one had any stories to tell...

a b K Overclocking
November 19, 2009 4:43:52 PM

Lot of info missing here. Like what motherboard and will it support overclocking? What do you intend on doing with the computer? Are you trying to cut costs? Are you worried about noise? Is is it AM2, AM2+ or AM3? What processor is in it now? If its a work in progress does it even have a motherboard yet or are you looking at getting a mobo/cpu combo?

Will you be using software that will utilize a quad core, or being doing lots multitasking? Why the 3.2 ghz goal?

That being said here are my opinions. You know in your heart no matter what you get your going to overclock it lol. Or you would not be on an overclocking forum. The Black Editions are unlocked from what I understand so if you motherboard supports overclocking that is a plus for sure. 2.8 to 3.2 is not really a hard push. I have an X2 240 that comes at 2.8 and it will run 3.2 on stock voltages with the stock heatsink and fan. And it will run 3.5 with some tweaking still using the stock heatsink and fan. It gets warm but not dangerously hot.

So if your going to get a black edition and a cooler why stop at 3.2? On the other hand you know if you get the 955 your going to push it eventually too. Those are not your only two options for CPU's either. AMD makes lots of choices. They have a quad core 2.8 for around what the 720 costs. And if you could save up some extra money you can get a quad core BE at 3.0 (940BE). $164 on tigerdirect.

I say if you have your heart set on the 720 BE get it. It should easily overclock to 3.2 if the motherboard supports it. And if it doesn't you could probably use Nvidia Ntune or something to overclock it through windows. Having an unlocked multiplier is a big plus for overclocking from what I understand.

a b K Overclocking
November 19, 2009 4:57:08 PM

Ok just re read the posts and saw the prices. Here is what I suggest.

Falls right in between the two in specs and price and its a Black Edition which means it is unlockable. Even if you didn't overclock it its still better than the 720 at 3.0 ghz and a fourth core. With the 720 if you got an after market heatsink worth a damn you would be near that price or over. And you would still only have 3 cores

And then since the 940 is a Black Edition you have the added option of pushing it to its limit later when you can afford the extra parts. I bet you could get it to 3.2-3.5 on the stock cooler though.

Have fun lol

November 19, 2009 7:04:11 PM

Hi, Paul,
Sorry for the missing info, but this is a theoretical build. let me try to answer your questions:

What motherboard and will it support overclocking?
Since this is a cost comparison between a 720 and 955 setup (but the 720 will require OCing to achieve the stock 955 speeds), I can't tell you the specifics of the mainboard _except_ you might need to add additional cost to the 720 setup in order to achieve the same speed as the 955 which doesn't require OC to hit 3.2 Ghz. If it is more expensive to buy a board that supports special overclocking featurs to get the 720 to 955 speeds, then that just adds more cost to the 720 side of the equation.

What do you intend on doing with the computer?
I intend to run it at 3.2 Ghz.

Are you worried about noise?
Yes, noise would be a factor, but only in the case of a tie-breaker between 2 equivalent priced systems.

Is is it AM2, AM2+ or AM3?
I'd go with the latest chipset so it will be AM3 for both the 720 and 955.

What processor is in it now?
This is just a question about the cost between a 720 OC vs 955 Stock setup. It's just a theoretical question, there's nothing 'in there now'.

Will you be using software that will utilize a quad core, or being doing lots multitasking? Why the 3.2 ghz goal?

3.2 Ghz is the goal because that's the speed of a stock AMD Phenom II X4 955. However, the stock 955 is $180, and the 720 is $120. To make the 720 achieve the 955 speeds, will it require more than $60 to get the requisite gear (cooler, MB, Power Supply) to make this possible? That's the question.

As to the rest, I agree I'll do at least a minor overclock if I get a Black Edition processor since it is so easy, but I'll be satisfied with 3.2Ghz performance at a $180 price point. I'm looking at either a Gigabyte or MSI board that got decent reviews and is a rock bottom cost of only $70, so combined I'm going to have the core components at $230, which is a fine start to a budget build. But, I don't really want to get into the details of building a machine in this forum, because I mostly want to get to the bottom of the cost effectiveness of a 720 vs. the 955.


November 19, 2009 7:06:04 PM

RE: the tiger direct link:

I noticed that's an AM2+ chip. I'd like to focus on the AM3 because I believe the memory controller handles faster DDR3 ram, although not sure if this is the case. I do not know why they list certain items as AM2+ vs AM3, but I thought that had to do with the mainboard interface and in AM3's case it has to do with the memory support.

November 19, 2009 7:31:06 PM

cnox said:

What do you intend on doing with the computer?
I intend to run it at 3.2 Ghz.



The DDR3 doesn't help a whole lot with these chips, if you still have DDR2 you can use that with the AM3 chip without a big drop in performance.

I'm running a Thermaltake blue orb. It keeps the chip cool if I don't overvolt it at all. Considering the size it should cool a little better than it does. I'm not saying that it is a bad cooler, just that it might be better used as a weapon.

I'm waiting to see what the 6 core processors can do before I upgrade, but by then I'll probably be water cooled.
a b K Overclocking
November 20, 2009 12:02:43 AM

Since all you are interested in is those two choices I would personally take a black edition cpu over a regular offering even if it was a slower clock. I think in a decent case with good airflow it will run fine at 3.2 on the stock cooler. Never know till you try though.

I think by sticking with two processor choices and DDR 3 and am3 compatibility you are really limiting your options. Especially when you factor in a $230 limit for cpu and mobo combo. I think if you opened up your choices to am2+, higher speed ddr 2 and other processors you could actually get a better performing computer for the money. The real world differences between 2.8 and 3.2 gigs and good ddr2 compared with ddr3 will probably be minimal. Especially with a 70 dollar motherboard. And that is only if you are going to use software that will utilize a quad core system and that speed of ram. If not you will never notice the difference except in benchmark scores.

As far as motherboard and power supply factoring into the cost I don't think it will matter with those two choices. A crap mobo and power supply is a crap mobo and power supply regardless of your cpu choice. Both of those choices will run on the same equipment. Mother board and power supply choice will depend on the over all goal of the system. Pretty much any power supply out there will run the mobo and cpu. Its the drives, video card and other stuff that will dictate how advanced your mobo will need to be and how much power you will need to run it.

I personally would not suggest putting a $180 cpu on the cheapest $70 mobo you can find. But that is nothing more than my opinion. When someone speaks of tripple and quad core am3 processors and ddr 3 it smacks of high end. And high end and low prices normally don't go hand in hand if you know what I mean.

The reason for my questions earlier was to try and figure out what you would be using the computer for and possibly trying to help come up with a system suited to those needs in a price range you were comfortable with. Just trying to help is all.

November 20, 2009 4:07:15 AM

Hey Paul,
Well, I appreciate your comments.

As far as crappy boards, crappy PSU, I was looking at this to house either the 720 or 955:

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail : $70 after MIR (normally $85).

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail $40 after MIR (but normally $80)

The 500W seems enough for single card setups, and the motherboard doesn't support SLI (not interested) but has gotten good reviews. It's just 'cheap' because I'm not buying any features I'm not interested in.

And the 955 I'm talking about (the $180 one) is a Black Edition, so either choice, you get a Black edition. And if I wanted to just toy around with the multiplier just for giggles, I guess that would be gravy.

a b K Overclocking
November 20, 2009 4:02:55 PM

Looks good to me, its the mail in rebates that threw me. I was looking at retail prices for parts and couldn't find much lol. Looks like a pretty good board though, comes with AMD overdrive too, and AMD chipset. I have a Biostar and don't particularly like it. It does funny things. Hate to bag on the company though, mine could be a 1 in a million fluke.

I am not interested in the SLI thing either so I get you on that. Raid 0 might be a possibility in my future though.

The more I look at those two processors I am leaning towards the 955. Just save up the extra cash and do it right I think. You are wanting 3.2 gigs and that is what it is. You might as well pony up the extra couple of bucks for the quad core at the specs you want. It also comes with a nice heatsink with heat pipes.

The 720 is a crippled quad core you will have to overclock to get the performance you want. The X3s are basically X4's that couldn't cut it during testing so they lock the bad core out and sell them as triple cores. That is something to consider for sure.

I have a black widow PSU close to the one you are looking at. I think mine is a 450 watt. You will love the modular power cords. One of the better ideas I have seen in a while.

Good luck and let us know what you get.

November 20, 2009 4:17:05 PM

I built a system overclocked with the Phenom II x3 720 BE overclocked to 3.4 GHz with the stock cooler (though used Arctic Silver 5). I tried this on my 2nd build since the temps on my 1st build wasn't that bad.

Temps are just a tad higher than my system with an after-market cooler, but not by much. You're only bumping up your Vcore to 1.4 or 1.44, so it's not going to affect your temps too much.
November 20, 2009 6:04:59 PM

Damn you El Capitan!!!! I was all settled on just saving a bit for the 955! HA. And then you have to go tell me that stock cooling can do it with the 720.

However, still leaning towards the 955, I think the extra functioning core is worth the extra cash, and I'm really timid when it comes to OC, so the Black Edition's unlocked multiplier is pretty much as far as I am willing to least it isolates changes from having to deal with memory/HT settings.

Joking aside, thanks for the info...I figure with the 720 only running 3 cores, you can get away a little bit with more overclocking, but honsetly, I just want it to run at a respectable speed without any hassles (or if there are hassles, it's RMA for that puppy).


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November 20, 2009 6:08:43 PM

Np, can't go wrong with either CPU, just thought I'd post about not needing an after market cooler for overclocking the x3 720 BE (up to 3.4 GHz - anything higher I would suggest an after-market cooler).
a b K Overclocking
November 21, 2009 3:38:36 AM

I can get my x2 240 dual core from 2.8 to 3.5 with the stock cooler. My temps hit about 58C under a full load with prime 95. If I take the cover off the side they are lower. At 3.2 it will run on stock voltage and never even gets near 45C under a load.