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AMD Phenom II x4 New Build, all round Multitasking w/t Gaming

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February 8, 2012 9:21:09 PM

Hi Guys and Girls, a big thanks up front to everybody who contributes, just in case I don't get the chance later on...

I've already done a fair bit of reading around and found mostly outdated posts and hijacked threads, making it a really hard to get my head around piecing together a robust, future proof and above all current system (Allowing for any new groundbreaking releases?!). So for me and any other beginners out there i'm looking to start again and grow the thread organically to try and get all of the pieces to fall in to place, also i'm looking to learn a thing or two at the feet of those in the know...

The system I'm aiming for is approx. < 4Ghz w/t minimal OC and system tweaks. And will be used for multiple phone application emulation as well as 2D and 3D graphics testing. I'm aiming on keeping this system for 3-5 years but don't want to break the bank building it, however, budget is somewhat flexible.



Starting at the beginning, with the CPU... You might have guessed but I've plumed for the Phenom II x4, but that's as far as I've got in that decision. There have been many people with their piece to say and no definitive answers to some very interesting points raised:

I'm aware of the potential of the 955 BE and the multiplier adjustment (x16 --> x18) to achieve the similar speeds as a 970, but I had come across a thread in regard AMD testing for stability resulting in classifications of 955 and 965/975 etc., with the 965BE offering slightly improved stability even though they're exactly the same core with different factory release multipliers.

Specifically I'm looking at the: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGMBOX/125W C3 steeping




Does this have any merit at increased voltage with an increase to the multiplier? There is only a slight difference in price and that would be well worth the increased stability in my book, or is this simply falling prey to the marketing of AMD?

Or is this processor slightly short of the mark these days? It seems to be favored over the FX 4100 and I've proven that to myself through research, but is there anything to be said for Bulldozer atm?



Thanks again guys, and for people who are nice enough to post, can I please ask that it's kept within the realms of processors , for the time being ;)  I'd like to Grow the post, just so I can keep up if nothing else..
February 9, 2012 6:42:39 PM

If you are interested in a discussion about OCing, you should probably post in the OCing section instead. That is probably why you aren't getting many responses in this section.

Some things I will comment on, though, if the processors are the exact same except for a different multiplier from the factory then they should perform the same when the multipliers are adjusted to be equal.

The Bulldozer FX processors were mostly a failure because most of the motherboards that can support FX processors can't do so right out of the box. If you buy a FX processor and a FX motherboard, you can't expect to just stick it in and have it work.

Time and time again people do this and they come to realize that they need yet another processor so they can update the motherboard BIOS using the old processor and then take it out and put the FX processor in. If you are going to have to buy a 2nd PSU just to get the motherboard to work there is no good reason not to just skip bulldozer entirely.

You might as well just get a high end Phenom 2 or an Intel processor instead, which is exactly what people do.

Bulldozer is dead and should stay dead. I really like AMD, but even I have to admit they failed massively with FX. Well, I guess most of the problems come from the motherboard makers not supporting the FX processors adequately, but AMD should have sorted that out before they released the chips.

If most of the motherboard makers' boards would have worked without BIOS updates, the FX line might not have been such a huge flop.
February 9, 2012 6:57:15 PM

Thanks for the heads up. I've actually read up on the factory multiplier issue and was fully intending on knocking it up a notch once it was in place. I also fully agree that Bulldozer is swing and a miss, hence why I'm going with the tried and tested x4. I want multi threading and not sheer clock speed but also want something that will run when I ask, so not the x6...

The real reason I posted was to get a true opinion on RAM and not the guess work I was putting in after simply reading about it. Just trying to figure out if it was all ink the right direction..?

In regards OC'ing it's not a big deal and was simply a statement of intent for the future when the system starts feeling the strain. It was kind of hinting at the 1.35V options if OC ever became an option.

I hope this helps a bit. I would really appreciate this forums help. Thanks again.
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February 9, 2012 7:15:00 PM

***Looks like I dropped the ball on this one***

Sorry, thank for the reply, I was responding to a completely different thread I had running.

Anyways, you've answered all of my points and thanks. OC'ing is a maybe in the future after an initial system set up to get a nice dose of power from the get go, it's not really my intention to go any further than that until the system starts to feel the strain down the line, and then I would be looking to the updated Architectures along the AM3+ socket.

I was just looking for a confirmation on what I'd picked out and it turns out it's good :) 

From here I was hoping to move on to MoBo's to discuss and get a feel for how the system is coming together. Basic requirements were:

Socket - am3+
Memory - 4xDDR3 1600MHz - AMD doesn't require higher, not for the price anyway.
PCIe - 2/3 16x RUNNING (2x at 16)
GPUs - CrossFire/SLIe
sata 3.0 6Gb/s and usb3

I was looking at these two:

ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Motherboards/...

and, GIGABYTE 990FXA
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Motherboards/...

Any thoughts anybody :) 
February 9, 2012 7:21:40 PM

Some people find that when they adjust the processor settings they have to also adjust RAM settings in order to get it to work right.

How to best manage those sorts of things is best discussed with the people in the OCing forum here on Tomshardware.

I can tell you that 1.35v RAM OCs better than RAM that has any higher voltage.

That being said, most of the time the motherboard can do everything necessary to manage RAM on its own.

In any event, I think you will be doing yourself a favor if you just get some regular Crucial or Kingston RAM (not other types) and don't try to push the RAM to increase its performance.

The two biggest problem children with new PCs are RAM and PSUs. Additionally, RAM is a really touchy thing in general and the computer usually knows better than the manufacturer what the settings should be for it.

If the package says 1600 and the computer auto detects it at 1333, it probably should have had 1333 on the package.

Trying to squeeze more performance out of RAM does pretty much nobody any good.

The only programs I have ever heard of that perform better with faster RAM are programs like WinZip and only then by a few seconds. Almost all other programs give the same exact results with 2133 RAM as they do with 1333 RAM.
February 9, 2012 7:34:27 PM

Awesome, that's way more help than I was getting on the other thread anyway :)  Even if it was a step ahead of what I was hoping for, but I guess I need to figure it all out at some point anyway?!

If you have any further pearls of wisdom you would be happy to share I'm still in debate over MoBo and GPU + RAM combo's. But I think I'll try and take up some of these issues with the overclocker's as well.

Thanks for the pointers!!
February 10, 2012 12:29:32 AM

My bad.
February 10, 2012 3:58:50 AM

EaYaJB said:
***Looks like I dropped the ball on this one***

Sorry, thank for the reply, I was responding to a completely different thread I had running.

Anyways, you've answered all of my points and thanks. OC'ing is a maybe in the future after an initial system set up to get a nice dose of power from the get go, it's not really my intention to go any further than that until the system starts to feel the strain down the line, and then I would be looking to the updated Architectures along the AM3+ socket.

I was just looking for a confirmation on what I'd picked out and it turns out it's good :) 

From here I was hoping to move on to MoBo's to discuss and get a feel for how the system is coming together. Basic requirements were:

Socket - am3+
Memory - 4xDDR3 1600MHz - AMD doesn't require higher, not for the price anyway.
PCIe - 2/3 16x RUNNING (2x at 16)
GPUs - CrossFire/SLIe
sata 3.0 6Gb/s and usb3

I was looking at these two:

ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Motherboards/...

and, GIGABYTE 990FXA
http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Motherboards/...

Any thoughts anybody :) 


These are both quality boards. Either choice will work. Personally I have always used Gigabyte boards and have had good luck without them.
February 10, 2012 2:23:03 PM

The motherboard is fine, I would probably go with the Gigabyte myself.

Probably a 960T and maybe a 6950.

RAM CT2KIT51264BD1339
February 10, 2012 4:26:51 PM

Sweet, yeah there was nothing in it for the motherboard. Only minor concern was reports of a poor BIOS on the GIGABYTE occasionally being restrictive and possible warping issues on delivery with the ASUS. Lesser of two evils I guess..

The 960T is a great shout! With any luck i'll get one of the 40% that will actually allow for the extra cores to be unlocked, also it supports 1600MHz RAM, which the 965 doesn't. And if not, then it's still lower on power consumption, which is always nice.

As for RAM I had picked out Mushkin Blackline 9-9-9-24 @ 1.35V
https://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/Memory/DDR3/...

Simply because it works out a little cheaper for 16Gb and should have slightly improved stability over 1.5V. I'm imagining this system is going to get a little warm and power hungry with 6 cores and a big GPU, so I want to be a little nice on the RAM if I ever want to push some more power in to the system.

Speaking of GPU's, I didn't want to break the bank on a card. I'm not a heavy gamer and mostly want to work with multi-threaded/ multi-screens and 3D graphics (which I was planning on doing myself) so I don't see it being over strenuous.

A 6950 would be nice, but I was thinking something more like a GTX 560Ti...
I know it's skimping a little but it should do everything I ask of it for now, and then I can always xFire down the line when 2 or 3 screens gets a bit heavy to handle?!

Any other fantastic little tips would be greatly appreciated.
February 10, 2012 6:25:18 PM

Whats your budget for this, I have a really fun AMD Phenom II x4 build I am seriously contemplating on building, but its around 800. I made it for another thread and I liked it a lot. I would deffinately be curious as to what it could really do.
February 10, 2012 9:18:39 PM

The 6950 is cheaper than the 560TI and performs pretty much the same.

Not sure why you would argue against a 6950 and towards a 560TI instead.

Also, 1600 RAM is no better in real world programs than 1333 is.

Additionally, 16 GBs is overkill for most applications. You would likely be fine with 2x 4GB like the one I mentioned.

Both Gigabyte and Asus motherboards are the best things out there, anything else has worse problems than those. I have never heard of anyone getting a warped Asus board or any problems from either of them other than that FX doesn't work right out of the box on them, which is the same as every other manufacturer.
February 10, 2012 10:50:32 PM

Tbh I never started with a budget, I just set out to find what would work for me, although it's looking like it's going to cost around £800 :)  There's still a SSD and a 24 some inch monitor to find (Samsung and I don't know yet). But the 960T brings the price down a little and gives the system I'm building a boost. Yay!

GPU's just went right over my head, I've been looking all over the show. Originally I was looking at the 6870, hence why a 560 Ti seemed so attractive ;)  But when you put it in terms of a 6950... Well, what can I say?! My biggest concerns were PhysX and power consumption. Problem being I'm looking at 560Ti for £150 and 6950 for £200, so ye, 6950 edges out and with that AMD 'secret sauce' should fit in nicely. However, I am facing a bigger and bigger bill, which I was hoping to avoid.

Yes, 16Gb is overkill, but I won't be using this rig for 'most' application. As I OP'd I will be running phone application emulation i.e. 4x 4-8 threaded applications, +- graphics and such, so 16Gbs may be a little much, but then again so is 6 cores... Honestly I was hoping for a little feedback in regard Mushkin within the MoBo, CPU and some Graphics to give an average voltage combo. I feel it's quite nicely balanced when Ubuntu's overlaid on top? But that's why I'm asking.

Thanks for the input guys. I do appreciate it!

BtW, what is this thread you are speaking of and is it still active??
February 10, 2012 10:57:12 PM

Here's the build from the other thread. Some of the prices changed a little, but honestly I am really intrigued to see what it can do, so I am wanting to build it. As long as we have the funds after we go get our taxes done tomorrow, I will probably order it when we get the refund.

Just for giggles, I'd rock this if I didnt build my i5 recently. Went for a kind of Industrial/Ninja theme. I nicknamed it "The Dark Horse"

CPU = AMD Phenom II x4 980

MOBO = Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3

RAM = Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8gb DDR3-1600

CPU COOLER = Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO

CASE = Fractal Design Core 3000

PSU = SeaSonic S12II 620w 80+ Bronze Certified

GPU = Sapphire Radeon 6870

HDD = Seagate 500gb HD

OPTICAL = Samsung 22x DVD Burner

TOTAL = 807.91
February 11, 2012 12:33:50 AM

I don't know much about phone application emulation, but I do know that it is pretty hard to exhaust 8 GBs of RAM in my experience.

Maybe you should try 2x 4GB first and if you don't have the performance you want then go for another set of the exact same kind to complete the 16?

Anyway, if you are going to be going to town on the processor you probably want to get a Hyper 212 and OC it, just sayin.

Mushkin RAM... eh, Crucial and Kingston have the lowest failure rates and it is only close between those two. Other major brands fail 3x+ more often. Personally, I like how easy it is to verify that the RAM you are selecting is guaranteed to work with your motherboard.

RAM is one of the top 2 causes of problems for new PCs and anything you can do to minimize that risk is a good idea in my book.

For my part, only Crucial RAM is coming into my house from now on.

Regardless, the voltages of the RAM and stuff isn't a big deal. The only two voltages you really need to worry about are CPU and Video Card. Your CPU is going to be using at least 125 if you don't OC it, a 6950 probably another 225, that is 350, and the rest of everything else maybe 100w so 450w is a reasonable guesstimate of non OCd max draw.

To keep that in the good range of loads on the PSU, you would probably need a good 650w, like my XFX 650w.
February 11, 2012 12:35:07 PM

Ah yes, I had indeed seen your thread. It had given me some good pointers.

Thanks for the heads up on the Hyper 212, which in this case I'm pretty much going to need. As well as the PSU.. Of all of the options it did seem the best.

For graphics though I'm still not convinced. I had originally been looking at the 6870, but from what I've read the 560 Ti is the card to have for £150. This was the price range I was hoping to stick to as it's all I really need in my everyday usage. However, a 6950 compared to a 560 Ti Twin FrozR II, well I think I would have to go with the 6950, it's just that little bit more expensive and I don't know if I really need Ultra settings the 3 times I play games each month..?!

But if I were to drop to 8Gb RAM it might just be feasible to up the graphics in return.. I know it's what people always want to hear when discussing new rigs. In fact...

I've just found the GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-D3 for £101,
all the same support for FX chipset, USB and SATA, as well as dual x16 SLI...

So with 8Gb RAM and the slightly cheaper MoBo I could actually afford the 6950. Happy Days!
February 11, 2012 2:00:46 PM

Just get a 6850. If you aren't going to play that many games anyway on it there is no good reason to get a different card than that. Especially so if you don't even care to have super high settings to begin with.

Additionally, still drop back in RAM to 8 GB and save both amounts. If the computer begs for the other 8 GB RAM, stick it in there, otherwise you are fine with that setup.

Also, x16/x16 is marginally slower than x8/x8 most of the time and almost never better than it. The reason for this is that enabling x16/x16 requires all of the traffic to be sent through a chip called the NF200.

To put this in real world terms, think if you had the choice between driving 2 miles at 30 miles per hour or if you could take the long way around and go 4.5 miles at 60 miles per hour.

You will be going twice as fast, but the longer path to get to the destination will cancel out all of the advantages of the increased speed. You are left with a small loss of performance as a net result.
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