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Overclocking The Athlon II X3 435

Athlon II X3 435: AMD's Three-Core, 2.9 GHz, $87 Triple-Threat
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For about $120, the Phenom II X3 720 BE provides two things that the Athlon II X3 435 does not: 6MB of L3 cache and an unlocked CPU multiplier. Now, while an unlocked multiplier certainly can make overclocking a lot easier, it doesn't necessarily provide better results. In our experience, most Phenom II X3 720 CPUs should be able to make it to the 3.7 GHz neighborhood easily. Some folks will make it over 4 GHz with a bit of effort, but other Phenom II X3 720 samples won't be as accommodating.

Since we're comparing the new Athlon II X3 435 to its Phenom II X3 720 BE cousin on a value basis, we wanted to see how far the 435 could stretch its overclocking legs. With a nice, high 14.5 clock multiplier, the new Athlon II X3 435 is a prime candidate for overclocking. Now, we're not looking for a monster overclock here, but we'd like to see what the CPU is willing to provide without too much trouble or to much heat.

Helping out in this respect is a formidable ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 cooler. Though it's admittedly more cooler than most enthusiasts will employ with an Athlon II X3 435, it will be useful to see how far the CPU can go without heat being too much of a problem. We'll also have a chance to see how well Asus' M4A785TD-V EVO motherboard works when pushed a little.

Upping the CPU to 1.525V in the BIOS, we set the chip's reference clock to 270 MHz for a 3,915 MHz clock speed.  While we were able to boot at this setting, the system was somewhat unstable during Prime95 stress testing. As our goal was to see what this CPU could do on a 24/7 basis without pushing it too far, we weren't willing to throttle up the voltage any further, so we backed down until things got stable.

At the end of the day, we settled on a 260 MHz CPU reference clock for a resulting 3,770 MHz clock. We also lowered the HyperTransport multiplier to eight (listed as 1,600 MHz in the BIOS) for an overclocked 2,080 MHz HT speed. Memory was set to 533 MHz in the BIOS, resulting in a 693 MHz (1,386 MHz DDR) clock, and memory latencies were manually set to 9-10-10-25-34 for stability.

This is a respectable overclock for an $87 CPU, and with a Prime95 load temperature of just under 50 degrees Celsius (likely thanks in no small part to the NV120 cooler) we're quite confident in long-term 24/7 prospects for this configuration. We benchmarked the Athlon II X3 435 at both stock and overclocked settings in order to demonstrate the overclocking advantage.

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    wintermint , October 20, 2009 4:29 AM
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :) 
  • 25 Hide
    ominous prime , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    AMD is really thriving in the budget sector, I wonder how the i3's will affect the market. I hope AMD can get back to head to head with Intel on the high end though.
  • 22 Hide
    JonathanDeane , October 20, 2009 6:09 AM
    3 cores at almost 3Ghz for this cheap? Hmmm not a huge AMD fan but this is plenty of CPU for most people. I would snap one up if I was building a system right now.
Other Comments
  • 29 Hide
    wintermint , October 20, 2009 4:29 AM
    AMD CPUs been appealing to budget builders lately :) 
  • 21 Hide
    invlem , October 20, 2009 4:36 AM
    I think my HTPC just found its new processor, been running a 5200+ for the last while
  • 25 Hide
    ominous prime , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    AMD is really thriving in the budget sector, I wonder how the i3's will affect the market. I hope AMD can get back to head to head with Intel on the high end though.
  • 22 Hide
    rdawise , October 20, 2009 4:47 AM
    Smart move by AMD by attacking the budget crowd (especially around the holiday season). I am surprised how well this thing did against the X2 550! Seems like a good candidate for a budget gaming/multipurpose build. Any release dates available (for NewEgg)?
  • -8 Hide
    tacoslave , October 20, 2009 5:31 AM
    this is awesome but (and its a big one) i kinda wanted to see something that pwns intels core i7 in everything. Kind of like what they are doing in the graphics department but total domination. How long will i wait!!!
  • 2 Hide
    lemonade4 , October 20, 2009 6:04 AM
    http://media.bestofmicro.com/O/H/227681/original/Athlon%20II%20X3%20CPU-Z%20Stock.jpg

    2 cores 2 threads?
  • 22 Hide
    JonathanDeane , October 20, 2009 6:09 AM
    3 cores at almost 3Ghz for this cheap? Hmmm not a huge AMD fan but this is plenty of CPU for most people. I would snap one up if I was building a system right now.
  • 6 Hide
    DokkRokken , October 20, 2009 6:24 AM
    That's one impressive little chip! Pair this with a 770 chipset and you'd have the basis for a cheap and cheerful gaming PC!
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , October 20, 2009 6:33 AM
    lemonade4http://media.bestofmicro.com/O/H/2 [...] 0Stock.jpg2 cores 2 threads?


    Aha! Thanks for catching that. After I had done the testing I was playing around with disabling CPU cores in the OS, and I forgot to turn them back on to take the screenshot. Fixed!
  • 1 Hide
    sonofliberty08 , October 20, 2009 7:26 AM
    did the disable core of Athlon II X3 435 can be unlock ?
  • 3 Hide
    wh3resmycar , October 20, 2009 8:08 AM
    a mobile version of this = PWNAGE.
  • 1 Hide
    mitch074 , October 20, 2009 8:09 AM
    The RAR and 7z archive formats make use of a large size 'dictionary': a small store of patterns that, when used on a solid archive, can help achieve very high compression ratios. If this dictionary can be made to fit in fast memory (ie. cache), then comparing its patterns to currently compressed data can yield tremendous speed improvements:
    - the dictionary doesn't have to be called from RAM on every new data page, which frees memory bandwidth
    - when the dictionary is half the size of cache, then uncompressed data can fit in cache too, thus actual compression doesn't need 'paging' from memory.

    As an example, the PKZIP algorithm (used in .zip files) has a fixed dictionary size of 64 kb; .zip can't handle solid file compression either (the same algorithm can be found in gzip, but when used with the tar archiver, can in essence achieve solid file archiving, which can yield non negligible compression improvements).

    In 7-zip, when creating the archive, try setting up the dictionary at a size lower than half the biggest consolidated cache the least gifted CPU has, and compare again: performance will in fact be rather close. However, if you go over the cache's size, performance plummets.

    About AVG appreciating core counts better than CPU speed: this could be explained by how I/O intensive a virus scan is; and since Vista sucks at I/O, what's left to compare are how many file handles can be opened and used simultaneously. A test that could be done:
    - Install AVG on Vista, XP and Linux
    - Run a scan on the same file set (be mindful though that the Linux file set should be put on an ext3 filesystem, NTFS access still being rather CPU intensive on Linux)
    - see if there are differences.
  • 8 Hide
    wh3resmycar , October 20, 2009 8:32 AM
    with mutlicore cpus reaching sub $100 pricepoints, do developers still have an excuse that "not everybody" has a multicore rig?

    even an atom netbook can do 2 thread simultaneously.
  • 5 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , October 20, 2009 8:36 AM
    kudos to amd for launching budget options ... look at core lga775 prices they havent moved as expected even with lynnfield ... htpcs are going to benefit especially with the low power options ... 3 cores great for encoding and bluray playback etc ...
  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , October 20, 2009 9:02 AM
    And I thought I would wait till new year for an extra build for my household. Great AMD!
    I really hope they get their act together and hit Intel hard on their flagships just as they did with Nvidia.
  • 6 Hide
    shubham1401 , October 20, 2009 9:52 AM
    This way no one will buy Intel for budget rigs...
  • 2 Hide
    amdfangirl , October 20, 2009 10:12 AM
    Go AMD!
  • 0 Hide
    zinabas , October 20, 2009 10:17 AM
    "We will also be simulating an Athlon II X3 720 with a Phenom II X4 965 by lowering the CPU multiplier and disabling the forth CPU core"
  • 2 Hide
    zinabas , October 20, 2009 10:19 AM
    "We will also be simulating an Athlon II X3 720 with a Phenom II X4 965 by lowering the CPU multiplier and disabling the forth CPU core" Close but not quite, heads up.

    Nice article by the way and I haven't even gotten to the benchmarks.
  • 1 Hide
    jj463rd , October 20, 2009 11:45 AM
    Pretty amazing performance for such an extremely low price.
    Looking at the gaming benchmarks I'm impressed.
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