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Test Systems And Benchmark Setup

Phenom II 955 Versus Core i7 920: Gaming Value Compared
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First off, we'd like to thank Long and the crew at MemoryExpress and Wayne at Computer Boulevard in Winnipeg, Canada, who helped us with some last-minute test-equipment requirements; we couldn't have finished this review without their assistance.


Phenom II System
Core i7 System
CPU

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
3.2 GHz, 1.35v, FSB-200, 2000 MHz HT link
Overclock: 3.706 GHz, FSB-218,
2,180 MHz HT link

Intel Core i7-920 2.66 GHz,
133 MHz Bclk, 1.36 V (load)
Overclock: 3.44 GHz at 1.296 V (load),
172 MHz Bclk

Motherboard

ASUS M4A79T Deluxe,
BIOS 1503, AMD790FX 

DFI LANParty Jr X58-T3H6 Micro-ATX
Intel X58/ICH10R, LGA1366

Networking
Onboard Gigabit LAN controller

Onboard Gigabit LAN controller

Memory

G.Skill 10666CL7T 4.0 GB DDR3-1064
  2x 2.0 GB, CAS 8-8-8-19, 1.56 V
Overclock: DDR3-1454 at 1.675 V, CAS 8-8-8-19

G.Skill 10666CL7T 6.0 GB DDR3-1064
3 x 2.0 GB, CAS 8-8-8-19, 1.56 V
Overclock: DDR3-1378 at 1.56 V, CAS 8-8-8-19

Graphics

2 x HIS Radeon HD 4890 in CrossFire
850 MHz GPU, 2,150 MHz RAM, 1 GB Per Card

2 x HIS Radeon HD 4870 in CrossFire
750 MHz GPU, 1,800 MHz RAM, 1 GB Per Card

Hard Drive

Seagate Barracuda ST31500341AS
1.5 TB, 7,200 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Power

PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75QB
750 W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified

PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad S75QB
750 W, ATX12V 2.2, 80-Plus Certified

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit 6.0.6001, SP1
DirectX versionDirectX 10
Graphics Drivers

Nvidia GeForce 185.85, ATI Catalyst 9.6


Notice that we had to use different hard drives in our test systems. This was unavoidable, as we were running concurrent benchmarks and we didn't have two of the same model drives on hand. However, SiSoft Sandra demonstrated that the drives performed very similarly to each other and we're confident that that the disparity did not cause any performance variations.

Our Phenom II overclock went very smoothly and, using identical timings as the Intel Core i7 overclock, we managed to get the Phenom II 955 to 3.7 GHz with little trouble. With a slight CPU core voltage increase to 1.42 V, the memory voltage increased to 1.675 V, and the northbridge voltage increased to 1.2 V. We set the CPU multiplier to 17x and the front side bus (FSB) to 218 MHz, resulting in an overclocked CPU speed of 3,706 MHz. This is about 100 MHz faster than the overclocked Cyberpower Gamer Dragon system we tested. From what we've seen, Phenom II 955s can get to 3.6-3.7 GHz with little trouble and minor voltage and heat increases, but they hit a wall soon after.

We have also benchmarked many more games this time around to satisfy folks who didn't think we had enough of a cross-section in the Cyberpower article. Here are the games and their settings:

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 64-bit executable, benchmark tool
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Very High Quality, No AA

Far Cry 2

DirectX 10, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Very High Quality, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x AA

Stalker: Clear Sky

Average of 4 segments "A-Tested Object"
Test Set 1: High Preset, DirectX 10, EFDL, no MSAA
Test Set 2: High Preset, DirectX 10, EFDL, 4x MSAA

World In Conflict

Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo
Test 1: Very High Details, No AA/No AF
Test 2: Very High Details 4x AA/16x AF

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

DirectX 10.1, in-game benchmark
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, No AA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 8x AA

Fallout 3

Custom THG Benchmark
Test Set 1: Ultra High Quality, No MSAA, No AF
Test Set 2: Ultra High Quality, 4x MSAA, 15x AF

Left 4 Dead

Custom THG Benchmark
Test Set 1: Highest Settings, no MSAA
Test Set 2: Highest Settings, 8x MSAA, 16x AF

Prototype

Custom THG Benchmark
Test Set 1: High Quality, No MSAA, No AF
Test Set 2: High Quality, 4x MSAA

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