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Overclocking Results

Does 790FX + SB750 = High-End Overclocking?
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Most readers have seen AMD’s overclocking utility, and many have heard about huge overclocking gains made possible by using Advanced Clock Calibration (ACC) on SB750-equipped motherboards. Unfortunately, we didn’t have similar results this time.

Our first problem with AMD Overdrive is that it didn’t initially support ACC when ACPI was enabled. Meanwhile, upgrading to version 2.1.4 solved that problem.

Overdrive includes advanced features such as automatic overclocking with stability tests, but our system would lock each time it reached approximately 2.94 GHz on either motherboard. Our second problem was that the settings were lost upon restart, so the program never really finished.

Our third problem was that while ACC adjustment did appear to have some effect on overclocking capability, it wasn’t enough to get us over 3.00 GHz when using AMD Overdrive to make remaining adjustments. Our best overclocking results were achieved the old fashioned way, through BIOS voltage and clock speed controls.

With a mere 20 MHz lead over MSI’s nForce 780a SLI motherboard, the win by Foxconn’s A79A-S certainly didn’t lend any credence to the advanced capabilities of SB750-equipped motherboards. Furthermore, the SB750-equipped M3A79-T Deluxe didn’t even match the nForce 780a SLI.

Anyone worried about how the A79A-S has only “half as many” voltage regulator phases as the M3A79-T Deluxe can rest easy with the above overclocking results, as there are plenty of other more pressing limitations. We don’t know if the M3A79-T Deluxe’s voltage regulator is overkill or if the A79A-S components are simply upsized, but we can see that the board with the fewest regulator components had the best overclocking stability.

Putting aside ultimate CPU stability, we also realize that some buyers don’t have an unlocked “Black Edition” Phenom and must instead overclock using the HT base clock. It’s often possible for such systems to run out of HT overclocking capability long before the processor reaches its limit, so we tested each motherboard to find out how far its HT clock could be pushed starting at the 1,200 MHz data rate and increasing the base clock incrementally.

Phenom users who would otherwise be significantly limited by a relatively low-core multiplier will find excellent results with the Asus M3A79-T Deluxe.

One of the more exciting performance features of Phenom processors is support for DDR2-1066 memory, yet using the highest memory ratio can again limit how far the HT base clock can be pushed. Due to the popularity of 4 GB configurations, we used 2 GB modules for this test.

Foxconn’s A79A-S has slightly better memory overclocking stability with two modules installed, while the Asus M3A79-T Deluxe isn’t bogged down as much by four. MSI’s 780a SLI motherboard isn’t far behind either 790FX + SB750 sample.

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  • 10 Hide
    Tropoc , November 13, 2008 7:23 AM
    im aware of that yes, but the problem here is tomshardware not the q6600... why? they didnt get it over 3.12ghz, which frankly is pathetic.

    and the 9950 is cheaper then the q6600 its cheaper then about every intel processor out there (even the dual cores such as e8400 etc).

    Im not saying it is a better processor then what intel has lined up, what im saying is that it is amazing value for money. and much better at overclocking then tomshardware managed to get out of it thats all :D 
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    afrobacon , November 13, 2008 6:10 AM
    very nice review
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 13, 2008 6:18 AM
    "Also notice the removable BIOS IC, a feature that makes bad-flash recovery as easy as plugging in a replacement."
    I don't know about you guys, but I haven't had a flash going wrong since a P2B board from the stoneage
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , November 13, 2008 6:32 AM
    neiroatopelcc"Also notice the removable BIOS IC, a feature that makes bad-flash recovery as easy as plugging in a replacement."I don't know about you guys, but I haven't had a flash going wrong since a P2B board from the stoneage


    Call it paranoia from a guy who changes BIOSs on an almost daily-basis on one board or another (me, not Thomas, though he does his fair share of updating, too).
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 13, 2008 6:45 AM
    Perhaps it's just the luxury of gigabyte's dual bios that makes me not care for removable ic's but I just don't see the relevance. Nobody has an eprom writer for those chips at home anyway, and with prices of many motherboards closing in on what a new chip would cost it's only truely useful for the expensive boards - and if an amd board is expensive, then it's targetted at the wrong people.
  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 13, 2008 7:02 AM
    Thanks for the review. As you have stated, only way that AMD can compete with INTEL is to provide better clock speeds on their chips. Intel has shot forward with giant improvements and AMD has been stuck on the side lines. Their 45nm chips are still not on the market and Intel is already making moves to switch to 32nm.

    Sadly, this is going to be tough hill to climb for AMD to become competitive again. I wish them luck though, the consumer is always the winner when corporations compete :) 
  • 5 Hide
    Tropoc , November 13, 2008 7:07 AM
    Im sorry, but this is rubbish:

    Ive got a phenom x4 9950 placed on a ASUS m3a32 mvp deluxe motherboard.

    With stock voltage and stock cooling ive cranked it up to 3.2ghz and it runs perfectly stable. (this was done by only adjusting the multiplier)

    A friend of mine have the same setup as me but an aftermarket cooler (noctua nh-u12p) and hes overclocked it up to 3.4ghz, again running stable.

    On Overclocking forums i read about people cranking this CPU up to 3.6ghz on air (noctua nh-u12p) without any wizardry.

    This test is flawed and im very dissapointed about tomshardware and what i feel is an effortless test of this setup.

    Im an Intel guy myself but at least im honest about intels oponents, and in this case the review should end up with AMD being amazing value for money and that the future is a bit (not alot) brighter for AMD.
  • -3 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 13, 2008 7:19 AM
    You realize that the Q6600 can also be overclocked to 3.6GHz on air as well without much difficulty? Both processors are at the same price point. The only difference is that the 9950 is AMD's top end chip and the Q6600 is a entry level quad core from Intel...

  • 10 Hide
    Tropoc , November 13, 2008 7:23 AM
    im aware of that yes, but the problem here is tomshardware not the q6600... why? they didnt get it over 3.12ghz, which frankly is pathetic.

    and the 9950 is cheaper then the q6600 its cheaper then about every intel processor out there (even the dual cores such as e8400 etc).

    Im not saying it is a better processor then what intel has lined up, what im saying is that it is amazing value for money. and much better at overclocking then tomshardware managed to get out of it thats all :D 
  • -7 Hide
    marzzes , November 13, 2008 7:26 AM
    Oh my God, you guys went with a Jetway over a DFI board! Not to mention just one vidio card and a mid range one at that, how about two 4870X2’s??.. I mean isn’t that what we buy these boards for?…….Oh and what kind of memory each board can handle or why didn’t you go with a Thermalright cpu cooler, hell if your going to oc water cooling is the way to go!
    Obviously Tom wasn’t interested in doing this review!……..
  • -4 Hide
    geckoar , November 13, 2008 7:29 AM
    I got my 9950 running at 2.85 ghz so thir numbers are not too bad. Im running it on a 790FX+SB600 K9A2 mobo. I could go more but my DDR2 800 RAm is holdinmg me back... I guess I should have gotten DDR2 1066 RAM.
    But I game at 1080P res. wiht a 4870 and I get over 30FPS in most of my games At max setting.

    Good Review.
  • -3 Hide
    marzzes , November 13, 2008 7:55 AM
    http://www.dfi.com/portal/CM/cmproduct/XX_cmproddetail/XX_WbProdsWindow?itemId=547&downloadFlag=false&action=e&windowstate=normal&mode=view

    Here ya go Tom.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 13, 2008 8:01 AM
    That thing has the third pcie slot in the very last spot making dualslot graphics impossible. And that in turns makes the motherboard useless as it no longer features anything intel can't do with it's x38 or p45 and a faster cpu
  • 5 Hide
    Crashman , November 13, 2008 8:08 AM
    marzzesOh my God, you guys went with a Jetway over a DFI board!


    Article announced end of September. Submission deadline mid-October. DFI wasn't interested or otherwise didn't respond. DFI's inaction is unfortunate.
  • -2 Hide
    marzzes , November 13, 2008 8:20 AM
    Article announced end of September. Submission deadline mid-October. DFI wasn't interested or otherwise didn't respond. DFI's inaction is unfortunate.


    If that’s the case one could argue that you guys write for manufacturers and not your readers.
  • 4 Hide
    Tjik , November 13, 2008 8:27 AM
    I'm also surprised to see DFI excluded, especially since you used DFI in some Intel test some time ago. I would definitely say DFI gives good value for money these days.

    Another point: hasn't AMD quite clearly said it won't be able to compete with Intel high end CPU:s and hence is aiming at giving better value for money in the "mid-priced value market"? Yes I'm even quoting some words of the article, but my point is that because of this it's quite unnecessary to go on about "too little to cure AMD’s ills". Of course the AMD64 era was astonishing since AMD did the unthinkable with resources as big as Intel's pocket-money. To believe though that AMD would be able to over perform time after another is wishful thinking. It's already proven that even with a superior product AMD won't be able to get good enough sales. So if you're really interested in finding the cause of the illness, it's not to be found solely inside AMD's headquarters. Without their inventions I doubt we would have seen the light of anything in the series of Intel Core CPU:s.

    There are several scenarios where I at the moment without hesitation would prefer Intel. If I did more rendering the Core i7 is a clear winner. Besides that even your Core i7 test showed that the 700/750 scales well when running more AMD/ATi graphic cards.

    To choose AMD over Intel isn't stupid, it's just a question of individual computing routines, in some AMD gives great value even beyond the 4-core scenario you mention in the article. When looking through benchmarks it's necessary to evaluate it's impact on your personal computing. In many cases you get a overall figure like "this platform is XX % faster", but the reality is that might be much less because the benchmarks are irrelevant to my computing.

    A long rant - and it's not a rant anyway - to convey a simple message:
    - Intel has a great line up of CPU:s at the moment
    - The above doesn't mean AMD "is ill" or disappointing

    /A formed (with constant relapses!) narrow minded overclocker who found out that there's a lot of more fun computing stuff to do
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 13, 2008 8:38 AM
    The 9950 is NOT cheaper than the Q6600 -

    9950 = $185 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103291

    Q6600 = $180 (OEM) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115018

    or $190 (Boxed) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115017

    Either way, a five dollar difference is insignificant - they're about the same price.
  • -1 Hide
    marzzes , November 13, 2008 8:43 AM
    Two thumbs up Tjik.
  • 5 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 13, 2008 8:50 AM
    marzzesArticle announced end of September. Submission deadline mid-October. DFI wasn't interested or otherwise didn't respond. DFI's inaction is unfortunate.If that’s the case one could argue that you guys write for manufacturers and not your readers.


    From where I'm standing it's the other way around really. It's the manufacturers not included that don't care about the readers. Those who sent in boards are those who care about us readers - and dfi appearently isn't one of them at this point. You can't blame toms for that really.
  • 0 Hide
    jameskangster , November 13, 2008 12:23 PM
    In my opinion, it's just really difficult for AMD to continue to compete effectively against Intel at this rate. Even while Intel is slashing their sales outlook, they are still well funded without having to rely on external investments and loans. Also, their new processor lines based on i7 are very promising with early positive performance reviews. Heck, their current Core 2 architecture isn't even close to their end of useful life cycle. Meanwhile, AMD HAS NOT produced any new performance-competitive CPU SKUs (even price-performance advantage has been losing ground), and they have been LOSING desktop/laptop market share. The only positive product line left for them is in the graphics market, and they actually have gained market share with 48XX series. I think they should focus most if not all of their talents and funding in their graphics technology, and phase out their processor line. Also, I know it's good to have a competitor to Intel, but at what cost to the AMD emplyees and investors? Would you rather have AMD go bankrupt and end up selling their assets to ______ (fill in the blank) or stay in business and use everything they know to continue to improve their strong points?
  • 2 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 13, 2008 12:30 PM
    I'd rather they merge their cpu division with cray or via than surrender to intel. Like any other enthusiast I am using an intel processor, but if they don't have any competition in 3 years time, then nobody will use intel, cause they'd stop developing - they'd become like microsoft's windows division - you can marvel at what they archieved in the past, but can't really appreaciate their current efforts. I don't want to hate intel, but if amd dies its inevitable.
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