AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition Quad Core CPU

Test Setup & Overclocking

Test Setup
 
We debated for quite some time as to how to test AMD's Phenom and in the end decided that we would compare it to Intel's Q6600 due to the comparative price of both the processors.
 
I also debated about whether I wanted to use the TLB BIOS fix in the review and after running through a whole set of benchmarks and 48 hours of stress testing without a crash and without the fix, I decided to feature this review without the fix. Some may agree with this decision, some may not, I hope either way you find the results interesting!
 
Intel Setup
Motherboard
Asus Maximus Formula (X38)
 
Processor
• Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 "G0" 2.4GHz
 
Memory Modules
• Cellshock PC2-6400 DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12)
 
Graphics Card
• Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E
 
Hard Disk
• Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
 
Operating System
• Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (Latest Updates)
 
AMD Setup
 
 Motherboard
• Asus M3A32-MVP Deluxe

Processor
• AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition (B2 stepping) 2.3GHz

Memory Modules
• Cellshock PC2-6400 DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12)

Graphics Card
• Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E

Hard Disk
• Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb

Operating System
• Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (Latest Updates)
 
Benchmark Suite
Synthetic CPU & Memory Subsystem
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c
• Lavalys Everest 4.0

File Compression & Encoding
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark05
• 3DMark06

3D Games
• Quake 4
• Bioshock
• F.E.A.R

Overclocking
 
Overclocking was almost a totally non-familiar experience to begin with, until I remembered my socket 939 overclocking days! The BIOS of the Asus board we used was thorough and had a lot of options so I decided to get in there and see how this unlocked Black edition could do.
 
I haven't included a Max FSB graph here as they don't compare very well, but the Max FSB I could attain on the Phenom was 210MHz using the BIOS and 220MHz using AMD's overdrive tool, pretty disappointing considering I used to be able to get speeds in excess of 300FSB out of my old X2 and AMD 64 CPU's.
 
Max OC
 
Unfortunately I only managed a measly 200MHz from this B2 stepping Black Edition Phenom CPU. Anything else froze the system up. I did try using AMD's Overdrive Tool (which is a handy little gadget for information about the CPU), but this also topped out at 2500Mhz. Compare this to the Intel and, well, there's no comparison.
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Most Recent Comments

09-03-2008, 20:02:52

FarFarAway
Black is back

But is it good news for the Green Team?

Check it out

09-03-2008, 20:38:17

Bungral
Not a chance I'd buy one.

I used to be quite loyal to AMD but that was Athlon XP days.. It came to building a new rig and very nearly bought a X2 6000 but just couldn't ignore the gains I'd get from switching.

Point is until AMD drastically improve they aren't gonna get anyone building a new rig jumping over to them or even sticking with them.

Good review as ever Matt

Oh yeah and I agree it should have been run without the fix if 2 days of testing gave you nothing to actually fix.

09-03-2008, 22:16:58

nepas
nice review mate.

1 slight point though: "socket AM2 users"---shouldnt that be am2+ users

somehow this makes me think that AMD are rushing things so they dont fall too far behind intel.the interesting fact is that the phenom is not far behind the q6600 in the benchies(well at stock,anyway),so maybe amd are heading in the right direction after all,roll on the AMD 8 core(as per your news post the other day)maybe they are not as far behind as we all thought?

10-03-2008, 03:21:50

Hatman
They have the revised ones out soon though and then 45nm ones later this year.

Aslong as they keep on track anyway. A big advantage for AMD would be to release 8core cpus on their AM2+ socket, as for intel you would have to buy a new mobo for nehalem.

10-03-2008, 03:40:08

PV5150
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Hatman'
They have the revised ones out soon though and then 45nm ones later this year.

Aslong as they keep on track anyway. A big advantage for AMD would be to release 8core cpus on their AM2+ socket, as for intel you would have to buy a new mobo for nehalem.
I don't think the B3 revision will offer anything special performance-wise, but it may allow for a lower TDP (hopefully) and a fix for the TLB issue. In my opinion AMD won't be able to squeeze that much out of the Phenom architecture in the bid to reduce the performance deficit by means of the new revision. Nahalem will mean a socket change because the memory controller will now reside on-die. It'll be interesting to see how much of a difference that makes in memory bandwidth next time around.

Good review Kemp, but unfortunately AMD doesn't have the goods this time to warrant a purchase. Hopefully the new 45nm procs will provide a much closer performing alternative.

10-03-2008, 03:45:28

PV5150
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Hatman'
They have the revised ones out soon though and then 45nm ones later this year.

Aslong as they keep on track anyway. A big advantage for AMD would be to release 8core cpus on their AM2+ socket, as for intel you would have to buy a new mobo for nehalem.
I don't think the B3 revision will offer anything special performance-wise, but it may allow for a lower TDP (hopefully) and a fix for the TLB issue. AMD won't be able to sqeeze that much performance out of it's current deficit by means of the new revision. Nahalem will mean a socket change because the memory controller will now reside on-die. It'll be interesting to see how much of a difference that makes in memory bandwidth next time around.

Good review Kemp, but unfortunately AMD doesn't have the goods this time to warrant a purchase. Hopefully the new 45nm procs will provide a much closer performing alternative.

10-03-2008, 08:25:45

FarFarAway
Ye I hope so too

Phenom is a good idea but fails to deliver when it should have - as far as being rushed out, it was very late so I don't think that's the case

10-03-2008, 13:16:02

ionicle
looks fair enough for performance

i think when i upgrade again, i'm gonna avoid 775, considering i had two 775 rigs die on me now..

as i've probably said before, probably just sheer bad luck, but ....

i've never had a problem with an amd system

10-03-2008, 14:47:23

Rastalovich
It`s a good comparison.

I don`t think the cpu does well in existing boards. It`s fair to say they `work` or work well, but it just seems to me that the boards haven`t been looked at enough.

Take an old board, put in a new cpu. I think the fsb in relation to the cpu timing could be looked at, not entirely sure how, but it could.

It`s fair to say tho, that if u had 2 pc boxes in front of u, with no idea if they had a Q6600 or a Phenom in either, performance-wize I bet it would be hard to distinguish.

How AMD fail to get the price margin right, when they`re obviously doing it to nVidia with gfxcards, it`s tough to comment on. Then Intel aren`t nVidia - even so.

Thanks for the read.

ionicle m8 - that`s definately bad luck. I been AMD for years and found 775 as my own machines very easy.

EDIT: It`s good to point out aswell that Kemp has chosen the correct cpus in which to make the comparisons here. I`ve seen a number of reviews where they pit the phenom against the likes of QX6800 - which is silly both pricewize and market-target.

11-03-2008, 10:39:08

ivy64
This review has some weak points.First thing i noticed is the Q6600 frequency used in the review,in the very graphs, which is 2.66Ghz.It actually should be 2.4Ghz and not 2.66,since the 2.66Ghz is the clock of Q6700.Second of all,the difference in results between the 2.3GHz clocked Phenom and 2.66GHz clocked C2Q is really NOT large and is mostly due the difference in the clocks(2.66/2.3=15.6% !!! ).So the author is claiming that the Q6600 working at 15% higher clock(and not its def. clock!) beating the 2.3Ghz Phenom,and with a relatively small margin in a number of tests, is due to better design of the C2Q??This is utterly false.We have 15% lower clocked Phenom not trailing more than 10-15% the Q6600 running at 2.66Ghz and the author is singing praises to the intel chip?This is very amusing!

Also,the author hasn't mentioned if the TLB fix was used in BIOS or not(or did i miss it?sorry if i did).The TLB fix induces the very noticeable penalty in real life usage in range of 6-30%!So having it ON in the bios is doing no favor to Phenom which in desktop usage scenario has practically zero chance of hitting this erratum!All new and some older boards come with the FIX ON by default and can't be tuned in so that the fix is disabled.The only way to properly test Phenom ,if this was the case,is to use the AMD Overdrive utility and change the "Turbo" button to Red(from Green).This turns of the fix(at least for ONE of the cores,this is what I've tested by myself).To turn of the fix completely,one would have to use MSR register editor,which i think is beyond the author's ability to do(no offense),and shouldn't be required from a regular user neither.

Third,the price of Phenom 9600BE is actually somewhat lower(at least in east Europe it is).Lowest i could find Phenom 9600BE was costing 197e and the Q6600 was around 214/213e!The clock author used in his test(2.66GHz) actually belongs to a lot pricier model Q6700 model.

Last,the OCing potential of this Phenom depends a lot on BIOS settings used,and from reading the author's comment on it i would have to say he is not very much familiar with the settings he should have used to OC this chip..At all.The easiest way was to read the (also pretty bad review) from Xbitlabs which did have one bright point and it was OCing settings needed for Phenom.The settings needed for OCing are very important even if you plan to OC the BE chip.From what I've seen Phenoms(be it BE or regular ones) can go anywhere between 2.4Ghz to 3.1GHz on a good air cooling.Vcore varies a lot and can go from stock to 1.45V.Also the Northbridge/L3 voltage is very important in the OC venture with Phenoms.None of the above were mentioned by the author.

And at the end of my post,to make a small joke in the spirit of the ending lines of OC3D Phenom review:

Of course, I haven't even mentioned 45nm Shangai/Montreal(8 core) yet....

11-03-2008, 11:23:39

FarFarAway
The Q6600 was run at 2.44GHz, I didn't notice the typo on the graph header which I will amend. The test settings state the frequency used though.

I didn't use the fix as stated in the review and the motherboard was left as it was sent to me as standard. If, indeed, this is enabled as standard - then that means that the overwhelming majority of users will have the chip as it is. Let's be honest - on or off it's a fault in the chip

I am familiar with the settings needed to overclock the chip and have read the review, it either wasn't a good chip or was held back.

With all due respect you don't really know how I overclocked the CPU, let alone what my knowledge is in general. I didn't detail how overclocking was performed as the review's intention was not to write an overclocking guide.

I am actually a fan of AMD but there is no way that this chip should get a higher score than it did, unless there's a price cut - and prices are based on the UK price as this is a UK review site.

Intel will be coming out with 8 cores, and if Phenom's anything to go by, a helluva lot sooner than AMD's 8 core chip.

The review reflects the majority of reviews of the chip on the internet, not by design, but because that is the current situation.

Whilst I respect your views, I don't respect the balance of your opinion. The AMD chip is inferior to a similarly priced and clocked Intel chip and that's the message of the review, typo aside

I sincerely hope that AMD step it up with the next release, competition is good

11-03-2008, 13:11:18

ivy64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kempez
The Q6600 was run at 2.44GHz, I didn't notice the typo on the graph header which I will amend. The test settings state the frequency used though.
Still the def. clock is 2.4Ghz,but ok,that's better than 2.66GHz.

I didn't use the fix as stated in the review and the motherboard was left as it was sent to me as standard. If, indeed, this is enabled as standard - then that means that the overwhelming majority of users will have the chip as it is. Let's be honest - on or off it's a fault in the chip



If you didn't look in the BIOS and tried to find the TLB fix option or tested the chip for the TLB patch then i presume the mobo had it ON.It IS a chip fault but also it can be disabled if you simply run an app. called AOD...

I am familiar with the settings needed to overclock the chip and have read the review, it either wasn't a good chip or was held back



I'm sure you're not a "newb" and i'm sorry if you thought that i implied any such thing.My point was that OCing Phenom is somewhat harder to do than OCing regular X2s or C2D/C2Qs.There are a few key settings that must be adjusted or you will end up with a HT wall or a tiny chip freq. headroom.IN all honesty,2.5Ghz can be achieved with 9500 Phenoms with stock Vcore and stock NB voltage in 5 minutes.

The BIOS revisions do make a huge difference in OCing potential and i think there was the main problem with your system.Most boards only got the good BIOSes quite recently!

With all due respect you don't really know how I overclocked the CPU, let alone what my knowledge is in general. I didn't detail how overclocking was performed as the review's intention was not to write an overclocking guide.



I didn't mean to offend you in any way.Sorry if you read it that way.My point was that the OCing these new chips is a lot harder than any other chip before,and it takes a lot of time and patience to achieve higher clocks.I understand you couldn't sit all day with this one chip and fiddle with the BIOS while pulling your hair since you have other things to do instead.But,the chips are rather new and represent quite a challenge for overclocking.



I am actually a fan of AMD but there is no way that this chip should get a higher score than it did, unless there's a price cut - and prices are based on the UK price as this is a UK review site.



Sorry i couldn't see from the review that you were an AMD fan .I'm not a fan of any company,but i don't like intel (for their business practices).I can see an intel favoring overtone in the whole review and with the flaws i noticed i had to join the forums and leave the comment.

As for the prices,in eastern/Central Europe the prices are the ones i wrote.Not to mention the motherboard cost must be taken into account ,too.

Intel will be coming out with 8 cores, and if Phenom's anything to go by, a helluva lot sooner than AMD's 8 core chip.





I'm not sure if you've been following the latest news,but intel's 8 core version of Nehalem will be built on the 32nm process since the die of 4 core Nehalem is VERY big(250mm2) and connecting the two of those in MCM package will make it around 500mm2..The die shrink will cut this figure to 300-350mm2 and make 8 core a lot more possible.There is a chance that they may try to use the 45nm dies as described above and sell it as a niche product for an insane amount of money,but you can forget this chip for desktop.32nm is the node to watch for if you want 8 Core Nehalem chip.

AMD on the other hand is in the position to make one and they actually announced 8 core Montreal chip for 2H 2009.This will probably be a server only chip with a big 2 dice connected with HT3.0 and using a new G3MX direct memory technology for connecting insane amounts of RDDR3 directly with a chip.

Shanghai,a 45nm K10 chip features both core/uncore(cache) changes and will be faster than K10 Barcelonas per clock,will run at higher clocks than Barcelona will @Q3 and will have lower thermals and power usage.

The review reflects the majority of reviews of the chip on the internet, not by design, but because that is the current situation.



Not majority,just those done in a haste and with small understanding of wth is going on with this chip (and the chip is really weird).TLB erratum,being unable to disable it,how to OC it,power draw figures which are across the board in various reviews,CnQ2 not working on some boards,lockups etc. all make this platform very repelling to the end users.All problems described are mostly early BIOS/boards problems and it is actually AMD's fault since they didn't provide the DVT samples on time for the dBIOS devs to work out the kinks.The situation is a lot better now,but still quite a few mobo makers have a weak support for AM2/+ boards in form of poor BIOSes.

Whilst I respect your views, I don't respect the balance of your opinion. The AMD chip is inferior to a similarly priced and clocked Intel chip and that's the message of the review, typo aside



Sorry if you feel that way,i must disagree.The chip is neither inferior nor more expensive to intel's counterparts.Only thing in which it's weaker is OCing potential.Where are the figures of real world multitasking or video/audio encodings of large scale,where are the professional 3D apps. that support 4 cores( Vray for example).All these are the representatives of usage models the potential quad core buyer will have,and none are done in reviews around the net.I can tell you that people are more interested in those than in SisoftSandra/Everest/3DMarks/TimeDemosInRandom3Dgame/insert any pointless synthetic app here/ .

I understand that you had best intentions while you wrote the review,but i must say i expected more,like i did when i read most others

I sincerely hope that AMD step it up with the next release, competition is good



They did have a hard time launching 10h,but this design is a modular one and the first benefits will be seen with the cheap TriCores (65nm B2s and B3s) and the 45nm Deneb version which will come with 0(zero) and 6MB of L3 cache.The 4 core Deneb with zero L3 will be around 150mm2,and a lot cheaper to produce than any Penryn or Nehalem quad core(around 240-250mm2).These will be chips that will cost 100$ and i bet you a dollar AMD will sell a sh*tload of them in 2009.At the end of 2009 there comes a whole new architecture from AMD,codenamed Bulldozer with a new extensions to the x86 instr. set and a total pipeline redesign.

11-03-2008, 13:18:54

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='ivy64'

The BIOS revisions do make a huge difference in OCing potential and i think there was the main problem with your system.Most boards only got the good BIOSes quite recently!
This is the bit that strikes me.

I wasn`t interested in getting an older AM2 board, banking on the likes of ABit (as a fanboi) to come out with bios revisions that would unleash the beast - if u like.

Sheesh, ABit haven`t release anything better than a recycled-media-old-stuff mobo.. in uATA form. What`s their game ?

In november I had FULL intensions of buying the best AMD cpu (that rumored to come out at the time but was delayed) and a smackingly new mobo.

Crap-all happened, so I semi-disappointedly got an Intel. Q6600 as it happens, with an IP 35 pro (for the 2nd pc etc)

There`s just very little mobo movement on the AMD bias from my pov.

11-03-2008, 13:38:37

Bungral
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='ivy64'

Sorry if you feel that way,i must disagree.The chip is neither inferior nor more expensive to intel's counterparts.Only thing in which it's weaker is OCing potential.Where are the figures of real world multitasking or video/audio encodings of large scale,where are the professional 3D apps. that support 4 cores( Vray for example).All these are the representatives of usage models the potential quad core buyer will have,and none are done in reviews around the net.I can tell you that people are more interested in those than in SisoftSandra/Everest/3DMarks/TimeDemosInRandom3Dgame/insert any pointless synthetic app here/ .
Other points aside.. This is an overclocking site hence the name "Overclock3d" so as well as performing well at stock one of main factors to a lot of us will be the overclocking potential.. I know its a massive factor in buying a CPU for me.

A fully overclocked Q6600 compared to a fully overclocked comparable Phenom would surpass it in most if not all benches.

As for the benches used in the reviews they do give a good representation of what an overclocking / gaming buyer would be looking for. The time demo's I feel are a great inclusion as it gives you a real idea of what performance the CPU will actually provide in a gaming environment.

11-03-2008, 16:22:54

FarFarAway
Yep since this is an enthusiast gaming website we included all of the tests we think an above-average computer user will use when using this CPU. The multi-threaded benchmarks are trying to portray real life situations that our readers would use them in. I know for a fact that the multi-threaded apps used are making full use of all four cores (CINEBENCH for one). Sure in a server environment things may be different, but that's not the intention of any of our reviews, nor would it be.

The chip is priced the same as a slightly higher clocked and faster Intel chip, that's a pure fact. As I said in the test settings, this is the way I was conducting the review as that's a great price point for CPU entry and that's the current UK consumer choice.

I did read some overclocking guides, along with my own fairly extensive overclocking knowledge and had some time with the chip trying to overclock, but frankly even if I managed to reach ~ 2.9GHz this chip wouldn't anyway near outperform the Q6600 for overclocking which reaches 3.6GHz in 5 minutes with ease. The latest BIOS revision was used, although I will have some more time with the chip for a review of the motherboard I am going to do shortly

Sure AMD have some good looking stuff coming, but right now Intel have a more mature process with a faster architecture (remember again, we're a gaming/overclocking site) and are hitting AMD hard almost at every move. I like AMD almost for pure "underdog"ness, but there's no way that any hardcore overclocker/gamer would consider AMD right now, unless their budget was very limited and even then there's some tough choices to be made.

Price of the board? This is a CPU review, not a platform or motherboard review. The boards not fantastically cheap, although it is decent....comments for another time for sure

I used the AOD program to confirm overclocking and indeed attempt some more (although I generally don't use software for overclocking).

EDIT: I do agree that given more time to work with the CPU I may have had more luck, but the CPU was given far more time than it's Intel rival

11-03-2008, 16:43:38

Nick R
I just don't see the point in it when for around the same price you can get a 2.4GHz Q6600.

18-03-2008, 17:59:56

PCFlip
I plan to build an AMD Spider platform but Im going to go for now with the AMD X2 6400+ Black Edition and hold out for the 9850 or later series of Phenom and see how they improve.
Reply
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