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Does 790FX + SB750 = High-End Overclocking?

Test Settings

ComponentBase Settings
CPUAMD Phenom X4 99502.60 GHz, HT-2000, 4MB Cache
CPU CoolerZalman CNPS9700
RAMCrucial Ballistix BL25664AA80ASet to DDR2-1066, CL 5-5-5-15, 2.20V
GraphicsGigabyte GV-R487-512H-BHD 4870 GPU (750 MHz), GDDR5-3600
Hard DriveWestern Digital WD5000AAKS, 500 GB7,200 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16 MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCoolermaster RS850-EMBA (850W, ATX12V v2.2)
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate SP1
Graphics DriverATI Catalyst 8.9
Onboard Device DriversMotherboard Driver DVD

To best determine the overclocking capabilities of these high-end AMD 790FX + SB750 chipset motherboards, we brought back MSI’s K9N2 Diamond, which is based on the highly competitive nForce 780a SLI chipset from Nvidia.

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AMD sent its fastest Phenom X4 processor, the 2.60 GHz model 9950 BE, for us to use in our motherboard overclocking and performance evaluation.

Overclocking doesn’t have much value if the rest of the system can’t perform, so we also ran our standard set of performance benchmarks.

CrysisVersion: 1.2.1Test 1: 1024x768, Low Details, No AATest 2: 1920x1200, Very High Details, 8x AADemo: CPU-Benchmark + Tom’s Hardware Tool
Supreme CommanderForged AllianceVersion: 1.5.3599Test 1: 1024x768, Low Details, No AATest 2: 1920x1200, Very High Details, 8x AADemo: WallaceTX_006_006Benchmark: Fraps 2.9.4 - Build 7037
Unreal Tournament 3Version: 1.2Sound and DirectX10Texture Details: 1Level Details: 1Demo: vCTF-Reflection_botTime: 12/60
World in ConflictVersion: 1.0.0.9Test 1: Very Low details (No AA, No AF)Test 2: Very High details (4x AA, 4x AF)Demo: Game-Benchmark
iTunesVersion: 7.7.0.43Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minDefault format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 Beta 3 (05-22-2007)Audio CD Terminator II SE, 53 minwave to MP3160kb/s
TMPEG 4.5Version: 4.5.1.254Import File: Terminator 2 SE DVD (5 Minutes)Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.3Encoding mode: Insane QualityEnhanced multithreadingEnabled using SSE4Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.1.3Display encoding status = off
Nero 8 RecodeVersion: 3.1.4.0- Recode an Entire DVD to DVD- convert DVD-9 to DVD5- High quality mode (slow recording)- disable video preview
Mainconcept Reference 1.5.1Reference H.264 Plugin Pro 1.5.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264)MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2)Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16 Bit, 224 kbps)Mode: PAL (25 FPS)Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Pinnacle Studio 12Version: 12.0.0.6163Encoding and Transition RenderingPrivate MPEG2-Cam-MovieVideo: 720 x 576 Pixel, PAL, 25 FPS, 6000 Kb/sAudio: MPEG Layer 2, 224 Kb/s 16 Bit, Stereo 44.1 KHzFile Type: MPEG-2 (DVD Compatible)
Autodesk 3D Studio Max 9Version: 9.0Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Adobe Acrobat 9 ProfessionalVersion: 9.0.0 (Extended)Default Settings: StandardEncrypt all documents (128 bit RC4)
Adobe Photoshop CS 3Version: 10.0x20070321Filtering from a 69 MB TIF-PhotoBenchmark: Tomshardware-Benchmark V1.0.0.4Filters: Crosshatch, Glass, Sumi-e,Accented Edges, Angled Strokes, Sprayed Strokes
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus 8Version: 8.0.134Virus base: 270.4.5/1533Benchmark: Scan 334 MB Folder of ZIP/RAR compressed files
Maxon Cinema 4D Release 10Version: 10.008Resolution: 1280 x 1024Benchmark: Rose Drop, 8-bits (50 Frames)
Deep Fritz 11Version: 11Fritz Chess Benchmark Version 4.2
Winrar 3.80Version 3.70 BETA 8WinZIP Commandline Version 2.3Compression = BestDictionary = 4096 KBBenchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Winzip 11Version 11.2Compression = BestBenchmark: THG-Workload (139 MB)
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarksWindows Media Player 10.00.00.3646
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2Version 2008.5.14.24CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMediaMemory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark
  • afrobacon
    very nice review
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • cangelini
    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).
    Reply
  • neiroatopelcc
    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.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    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 :)
    Reply
  • Tropoc
    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.
    Reply
  • slomo4sho
    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...

    Reply
  • Tropoc
    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
    Reply
  • marzzes
    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!……..
    Reply
  • geckoar
    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.
    Reply