Making Lemonade: Overclocking Your Locked AMD Processor

Test System Configuration And Benchmarks

System Hardware
AMD Phenom II X3 710 (Heka), 2.6 GHz, 2000 MHz HT, 6MB L3 Cache
MSI 790FX-GD70 (Socket AM3), 790FX / SB750, BIOS 1.3
4.0 GB Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D, 2 x 2048MB, DDR3-1333, CL 8-8-8-24 at 1.65V
Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar Black WD 6401AALS, 640GB, 7200 RPM, 32MB Cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s
Graphics Card
AMD Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5
750 MHz GPU, 900 MHz GDDR5
Power Supply
Antec True Power Trio 550W
Xigmatek HDT-S1283
System Software and Drivers
Windows Vista Ultimate Edition, 32-bit, SP1
DirectX Version
Direct X 10
Display Driver
Catalyst 9.7
Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
World In Conflict
Patch 1009, DirectX 10, timedemo, 1280x1024, Very High Details, No AA / No AF
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009
Version: 11.0, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark Vantage
Version: 1.02, Performance Preset, CPU score
Sisoftware Sandra 2009 SP3
Version 2009.4.15.92, CPU Arithmetic, Memory Bandwidth
Overclocked Settings

Stock VCore OC
Max OC
Tweaked OC
CPU Core Speed
2,600 MHz
3,444 MHz
3,744 MHz
3,744 MHz
Northbridge Speed
2,000 MHz
2,120 MHz
2,016 MHz
2,592 MHz
HT Link Speed
2,000 MHz
2,120 MHz
2,016 MHz
2,016 MHz
Memory Frequency / Timings
DDR3-1333, 8-8-8-24 2T
DDR3-1412, 8-8-8-24 2T
DDR3-1546, 8-8-8-24 2T
DDR3-1546, 8-8-8-24 2T
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    Top Comments
  • sohei
    it's about how to squeeze all performance from an locked cpu .
    this is a pro' article (head shot)
  • Other Comments
  • stray_gator
    What's the point of using a high-end mobo to overclock a mainstream/value cpu?
  • sohei
    it's about how to squeeze all performance from an locked cpu .
    this is a pro' article (head shot)
  • nzprogamer
    im a big amd fans, good stuff here, look forward to go back to amd
  • amdfangirl
    Good article! Too bad I killed my AMD CPU :P
  • brisingamen
    great article, should be more like it,
    and a few more gaming benches wouldnt hurt either guys!
    speaking of headshots yes unreal tournament is probably the most important game to exemplify the value of overclocking and added framerates due to "headshots" and shtuff.

    keep up the good work!
  • Onus
    stray_gatorWhat's the point of using a high-end mobo to overclock a mainstream/value cpu?

    Fair question; no one would likely do this IRL, but I think the point here was to see how high the locked CPU could go, so they used a premium mobo.
    Paul, now that we know what this specific CPU can do, would it be useful to now put it on a more typical mainstream mobo and see what one might get from the same chip under more typical conditions?
    The point would be to answer the following: if my budget just grew by $25, does it make more sense to buy a BE CPU or to get a more premium mobo?
  • haplo602
    stray_gatorWhat's the point of using a high-end mobo to overclock a mainstream/value cpu?

    because value mobos vary in stability much more than premium mobos. this article was just about the CPU limit, not the mobo limit.
  • Anonymous
    Tom's should do a shoot-out between an i7 920 and a 965BE that's had the multiplier taken down to 13x(2.6ghz), then both OCed to the max on the northbridge alone. I'm sure that would close the gap atleast somewhat, but I'm interested to see exactly how much. Maybe they could screw around with the HyperTransport multiplier as well, it might turn out that AMD has been shooting itself in the foot with the unlocked multiplier, when more performance would be had if they were forcing people to use the northbridge.
  • Shadow703793
    Good write up; but PLEASE do NOT recommend OCing via Windows. Most pro's here will tell you that same thing. BIOS > Windows for OCing.
  • Shadow703793
    Also how about putting this under WCing or DIce/LN2? :D
  • Ryun
    In the performance gains and the cpu tweaking page the graphs for world in conflict are switched.
  • dirtmountain
    Excellent article! Thank you for the work.
  • DarkMantle
    Very good article!. Ryun is right, those 2 graphs for World in Conflict are switched.
  • Upendra09
    I was planning on OCing but this article has made me afraid to OC, it seems there are a lot more factors involved in this than i thought.
  • saint19
    Really good article, in the pass I has a X2 6400+, and only can overclok with the 955 I have 600MHz more that the stock frecuency....
  • cybot_x1024
    nice article.
    Amd has really improved overclockability with the dragons.
  • Anonymous
    Who cares how high an AMD cpu hz will go when an i7 cpu with half the speed does more on every level.
  • bustapr
    wow great increases fom a triple core. 2.6 to 3.7 is great!
  • Anonymous
    Shreder: You are a perfect example of a brainwashed sheep. Core i7 has been shown to have a definite advantage in:

    Video Rendering(I don't care, maybe you do)
    Synthetic Benchmarks(yawn)
    Specific games that have been "optimized"(rigged) to perform better on an i7

    Other than that, the advantage ranges from neglible to non-existant. Unfortunately, there are people like you who swallow every bit of the fanboy articles with cherry-picked benchmarks...
  • Boxa786
    Like Shadow said, its obviously a really good cpu, for overcloking from amd,

    lets see how high it can go ;D