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Building Our Benchmarked Boxes

AMD Unleashed: Four CPUs, Two GPUs, All Overclocked
By

Assembly

We needed to upgrade our system for this round of performance testing. First, we picked up a Xigmatek HDT-S1283 to better cool the quad-core processors. Second, the DDR2-800 we used for the guide was replaced by DDR2-1066 memory supplied by Corsair.

Running four processors, both stock and overclocked, with two video cards offers a large amount of comparative data and represents a substantial amount of time spent benchmarking. Two complete systems were built, so at least some testing could be run simultaneously. Rather than buy components like we do in our SBM series, it was necessary to mainly use parts already available in the lab. While not identical, the two test systems are on par as built, both using the same motherboard, memory, video cards, and optical drives.

The Athlon 7750 BE was installed in an Antec Three Hundred case and cooled by an Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro. With a 500 GB Seagate drive, this setup is very similar to what has been used in our $625 SBM systems. Of course, the Antec True Power Trio 650 W power supply unit (PSU) was a bit beefier than typically found in a budget system, but was a necessity to adequately power the Radeon HD 4870 X2.

The three more expensive processors found their home in an Antec Nine Hundred case and utilized the larger 120 mm cooler highlighted on the previous page. This system also housed the quicker of the two HDDs, a 640 GB Western Digital Black Edition, making it very comparable to what would be expected in a $1,250 machine. Power was delivered by an Antec Neo Power 650 W, which is a modular PSU that is very similar in specs and efficiency ratings to the one above.

Again, keep in mind that cost is not a factor in this article. While the Asus M3A78-T motherboards used are not the least-expensive 790GX motherboards, they are more in line cost-wise with an Intel P45 that also supports CrossFire across 8x/8x PCI Express links. Both would be excellent mainstream enthusiast-level motherboards with which to build a system. Also, remember there are 790GX/ SB750 options available for around $100, which is similar in cost to the Gigabyte P45 motherboards used in many SBM machines.   

The main prices to focus on here are the processors themselves. The Athlon 7750 BE currently retails for $60, which is about $10 cheaper than the Intel Pentium E5200. The AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE can be found for $150, or about $10 more than the AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE. The AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE is about $190 now, which is a significant $80 less than the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 and $100 less than the Intel Core i7 920 used in the two past $1,250 SBM systems.

With two systems built, it was time to run the stock tests and begin overclocking.

Display all 55 comments.
  • 5 Hide
    radguy , June 1, 2009 7:14 AM
    So did I miss somthing or where does it say what each of these processors is overclocked to. I get that the p2 x3 720be is at 3.67 but what about the rest of them. Am I missing it somewhere (very possible) or do I have to look back at your previous articles to figure it out? shouldn't that be on the test systems and configuration page. I am trying to sort through the data.
  • 2 Hide
    dirtmountain , June 1, 2009 7:30 AM
    Nice article Paul and some exhaustive work! Don't overlook the 780G/SB710 that also feature ACC for a price of $72
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157154
    making the Phenom2 x3 720 a viable option in the SBM budget category. I'm also going to be curious about the new Phenom2 x2 and Athlon2 x2 processors that are coming out June 2nd.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , June 1, 2009 7:35 AM
    Has anyone noticed the benchmarks for the i5's on anandtech yet?
  • 1 Hide
    nerrawg , June 1, 2009 8:32 AM
    Great article guys - love the comparisons to the SBM machines - really gives some insight into CPU and GPU scaling and how much to spend on your processor versus your graphics for gaming builds. Thanks!
  • 8 Hide
    Sihastru , June 1, 2009 8:37 AM
    apache_livesHas anyone noticed the benchmarks for the i5's on anandtech yet?


    I did. Considering the pricing scheme of the i5 (so close to AMD) and it's high performance numbers (so close to the i7) AMD is in big trouble.

    Intel will shift all the processors that are now under the i7 (even if the 920 is rumored to become EOL, one step down on it's portfolio, which means high end Intel dual cores, will go into or under the mainstream, where AMD already has a hard time.

    This doesn't make me very happy, even if I am an Intel fanboy. Aggressive pricing schemes are overrated. AMD needs something new. Now.
  • 1 Hide
    DjEaZy , June 1, 2009 8:52 AM
    ... BIG THX to the Tom's crew... was not so hard after all? ... now, thx to YOU, we have a info about intel, nVidia and AMD/ATi solutions... how they stack up in price/performance/cost of ownership... NICELY DONE!!!
  • 5 Hide
    erdinger , June 1, 2009 9:30 AM
    Yes thanks, many people complained in the system builder marathon and you listened to the complaints... great.
  • 3 Hide
    ufo_warviper , June 1, 2009 9:35 AM
    The E5200 seems to hold up a bit better than I previously thought, an incredible value for
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , June 1, 2009 10:52 AM
    sihastruI did. Considering the pricing scheme of the i5 (so close to AMD) and it's high performance numbers (so close to the i7) AMD is in big trouble.Intel will shift all the processors that are now under the i7 (even if the 920 is rumored to become EOL, one step down on it's portfolio, which means high end Intel dual cores, will go into or under the mainstream, where AMD already has a hard time.This doesn't make me very happy, even if I am an Intel fanboy. Aggressive pricing schemes are overrated. AMD needs something new. Now.


    AMD doesn't need something new now, they are going to flood the market with low to mid range processor (see computex in a couple of days) that will cater to the masses. On the high end side of things the PII remains an options since it's direct competitor, the intel penryn quads will fade out to be replaced by the new kid on the block, the i5. As for the enthusiast (lots of money, no jaw dropping performance increase)segment the i7 will rule them all. So the battle between blue and green will continue as is, for almost 3 years now AMD has lost the crown, another year isn't going to hurt them much. Things will get heated this time next year when more and more bulldozer and fusion rumors will start spreading.

    As of now, nothing new, in this review or the ones that will follow.
  • 6 Hide
    pauldh , June 1, 2009 11:19 AM
    radguySo did I miss somthing or where does it say what each of these processors is overclocked to. I get that the p2 x3 720be is at 3.67 but what about the rest of them.

    Thanks for pointing this out. No you didn't miss anything, the CPU-Z screenshots should have been put up in pairs CPU Tab / Memory Tab.

    Phenom II X4 940 BE - 3.793 GHz (18.5* 205) 1.5375V
    Phenom II X3 720 BE - 3.672 GHz (18.0* 204) 1.500V
    Phenom X4 9950 BE - 3.400 GHz (16.5*206) 1.425V
    Athlon 7750 BE - 3.383 GHz (16.5*205) 1.425V

  • 5 Hide
    buzznut , June 1, 2009 11:37 AM
    All I can say is Thank you. What a great article! I can't see anyone not considering the PhII X3 720 for a budget build.

    I'm glad to see my X4 940 is holding up so well. Prolly be another 2 months before I feel obsolete again!
  • 3 Hide
    buzznut , June 1, 2009 11:39 AM
    O, BTW isn't 1.5V extremely high for a PhII? I've never taken mine beyond 1.45V. I'm chicken
  • -4 Hide
    ct1615 , June 1, 2009 11:41 AM
    never understood why IDIOTS type in ALL caps EVERY other WORD.

    if you have a simple understanding of the english language and can type, the reader will know what words are emphasized.
  • -5 Hide
    ct1615 , June 1, 2009 11:42 AM
    DjEaZy... BIG THX to the Tom's crew... was not so hard after all? ... now, thx to YOU, we have a info about intel, nVidia and AMD/ATi solutions... how they stack up in price/performance/cost of ownership... NICELY DONE!!!


    never understood why IDIOTS type in ALL caps EVERY other WORD.

    if you have a simple understanding of the english language and can type, the reader will know what words are emphasized.
  • 0 Hide
    cinergy , June 1, 2009 12:02 PM
    These benchmarks are obsolete and shouldn't be compared to anything. Firstly cat 9.2 is from february, now its june and cat 9.5. AMD also has had 7850 and 955 processors available quite awhile for better performance.
  • 0 Hide
    programmed4gamin , June 1, 2009 12:04 PM
    radguySo did I miss somthing or where does it say what each of these processors is overclocked to. I get that the p2 x3 720be is at 3.67 but what about the rest of them. Am I missing it somewhere (very possible) or do I have to look back at your previous articles to figure it out? shouldn't that be on the test systems and configuration page. I am trying to sort through the data.


    Check out screens from CPU-Z. Good article.. i say: FINALLY!

    How about using AMD and Intel CPUs in GPU tests in the future? I'm not gonna buy Intel no matter what, so furter articles with AMD processors i would gladly welcome
  • 0 Hide
    ufo_warviper , June 1, 2009 12:21 PM
    That's odd, most of my previous post is no displaying... Maybe that's why it has a negative score? I noticed, I hunted for a post I submitted last last week on a different article and it looks like it never posted.
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