I have a Phenom II 720 BE on my PC. I have been able to unlock the fourth core and I have been running it at 3.2ghz with stock cooling (it idles at about 41 C) at 1.344 Volts. I also have been able to clock it at 3.4 ghz with only three cores (I have not tried 4 cores at 3.4 ghz). CPU temperature is also about 42 C.
Which would be the right way to go? Should I be looking for better cooling or is the low 40's ok?
I did a quick check of my Windows Experiences scores and they are identical for CPU in either configuration however I lose 0.1 in the graphics score when I am only running three cores.
Graphics 7.2 (7.1)
Gaming Graphics 7.2 (7.1)
Primary Hard disk 5.9
I've got the same chip running 4 cores at the same 3.2 GHz. (during the summer that is as high as I want to run it 24/7 due to the temps (idle is 40 - 42c Prime 95 56C) - as BB said for games the 3 cores is probably a slight bit better but I use it more for Photoshop, video conversion, etc. so the 4th core speeds things up. but overall either is an improvement over the stock 2.8GHz. 3 core !!) - experiment for a few days using each and then decide which is better for your personal usage pattern.
Also keep in mind that if you buy a dual or triple core AMD Phenomon, 90% of the ime you can ulock it to a Triple/Quad, or a Quad/Quad.
And lows 40s is a ok temp.
Windows Experince score is a bunch of bollocks anyways, disregard it.
There are thousands if not millions of different software/applications, do you really know all of them and what they prefer in terms of Clock and Core? I just want to see what a reliable source of information you are.
Could you try to bump it up to 3.8 with the thermal i linked and maybe a Hyper 212+?
(20$ at Microcentert)
3.8 should be doable with proper cooling and a bit more voltage - Mine will do 3.6 on stock voltage (had it running there for awhile but as summer approached it was getting too hot for my liking since the difference in performance wasn't really that much vs. 3.2 GHz. @ 1.312V on my system with a 5770 GPU and 2GB RAM (it might be a different story with a higher end GPU and more memory but 3.2GHz. seems to match up well with what I have !)