Updated: Tuning Cool'n'Quiet: Maximize Power And Performance

Voltage Ramp And Power Consumption, Continued

Phenom II X3 710

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ClockCore and Northbridge VoltageIdleLoad
1.6 GHz0.925V59 watts78 watts
1.7 GHz0.950V67 watts81 watts
1.8 GHz0.975V68 watts84 watts
1.9 GHz1.000V68 watts86 watts
2.2 GHz1.035V70 watts89 watts
2.3 GHz1.050V72 watts92 watts
2.4 GHz1.075V74 watts94 watts
2.6 GHz1.100V76 watts99 watts
2.7 GHz1.125V78 watts101 watts
2.885 GHz1.175V83 watts110 watts
2.940 GHz1.200V84 watts114 watts
3.060 GHz1.250V92 watts120 watts

Just a reminder: we had to overclock the HT bus to 245 MHz (though we'd lock the multiplier at 7x) to get above 2.6 GHz. This processor is not a Black Edition model. The resulting clock rate increase is not gradual; this would explain the relatively greater rise is power consumption when going from 2.7 GHz to 2.895 GHz.

Unlike the Athlon X2 7750, we're not seeing any “free MHz” here. If you want to push power consumption as low as possible, 1.6 GHz is the only choice. This should be the lowest idle p-state, if possible. You can choose 1.7 GHz and 2.2 GHz as intermediate p-states, with the performance p-state set at 2.6 GHz.

If you're into overclocking, 3.06 GHz still makes sense. You don't even have to change p-states settings (except for voltages). The intermediary and idle p-states are already optimal (2.327 GHz, 1.715 GHz, and 980 MHz).

Let's compare these numbers with the default settings. At 3.06 GHz, we can still get about the same level of load power consumption. After all, we're still using the same voltage. However, idle power consumption is higher by about 10 watts (92 versus 81 watts). That difference stays the same if we choose 2.7 GHz @ 1.15V as the idle p-state.

Phenom II X4 945

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ClockCore and Northbridge VoltageIdleLoad
1 GHz0.900V72 watts88 watts
1.9 GHz0.925V73 watts90 watts
2.5 GHz0.950V74 watts92 watts
3 GHz1.100V80 watts120 watts
3.13 GHz1.125V85 watts137 watts
3.25 GHz1.150V86 watts145 watts
3.38 GHz1.200V90 watts158 watts
3.5 GHz1.250V96 watts177 watts

As with the Phenom II X3 710, we had to overclock the HyperTransport interconnect to 250 MHz to get above 3 GHz; this is not a Black Edition processor. Hitting power consumption levels below 70 watts is not possible (yet) with the Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H. With that in mind, 1.9 GHz seems to be the best choice for the idle p-state, or at least the second intermediary p-state. The first intermediary p-state can be set at 2.5 GHz with the performance p-state at 3 GHz.

We were unable to reach stability above 3.5 GHz, even at 1.35V. So, the highest setting we're using is what we can achieve with 1.25V (3.5 GHz). This setting isn't really ideal from a power consumption point of view, since the increase in voltage causes power consumption to jump. The optimal setting is really just 3 GHz, the default clock rate for this processor. If you're overclocking, you might get away with 3.25 GHz, since the difference is minor (5 to 10 watts).

With the GA-MA790GP-DS4H, we didn't have to boost voltages for lower p-states when overclocked. That means you can use 2.5 GHz and 3 GHz for intermediary p-states, with 2 GHz as the idle p-state and 3.5 GHz as the performance p-state. Idle power consumption is about the same when you overclock with this motherboard.

Since we're using almost the same voltage at 3.5 GHz (1.25/1.25V compared to the default 1.35/1.1V), we were able to get slightly lower power consumption numbers than default (96/177 watts at 3.5 GHz compared to 103/177 watts at 3 GHz). At 1.15V we can still hit 3.125 GHz. If you want to maintain idle power consumption, use 2.5 GHz @ 0.95V. Compare that setting to the default, 800 MHz to 2.5 GHz. That's quite a bit of difference.

  • DrgnRebrn
    Nice article! I'm curious to know if the "e" CPUs can be affected in the same way, such as the Phenom II X3 705e. I have chosen this CPU for a HTPC build because of it's already low 65W TDP. Also, what are the effect to power usage when using ACC features & enabling dormant cores?
  • cyberkuberiah
    On the behalf of all readers , Welcome , and so to say , Hi! , Arnawa Widagda :)
  • Inf3rnal
    I'd like to see same article about Intel i5/i7 power setting tweaking.
  • razor512
    did any of these changes negatively effect performance?
  • Very good article! Undervolting it's a great tweak to make and most of the people don't even know that it is possible as well as overvolting, getting a power efficient processor for no money! Thanks tom's for caring about this matter.
  • nukemaster
    My old A64 3200+ is about to get this treatment
  • autoimmune
    Inf3rnalI'd like to see same article about Intel i5/i7 power setting tweaking. O my GOD i bet the writers at Toms Hardware had not thought of that, and are not currently in the process of writing that article!
  • whiz
  • i love you guys. i have just the system that i am using as HTPC. i was wondering about ways to reduce the power usage as i dont use it for hardcore gaming or any other cpu intensive jobs. all i use it for watching blurays and tv and other movies and songs. i have an ASROCK 790gxh 128M mobo. and 1thlon x2 7750 kuma, that i bought from newegg for $59 (darn steal for the performance it gives. the machine has almost zero latency for any operation)
  • Jerky_san
    Anyone know where to get k10stat?