AMD Phenom X3 8750 Review

ajmatson - 2008-04-17 16:58:38 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: April 22, 2008
Price: $195

Introduction:

With all of the hype around the latest and greatest Quad Core processors out there, there is a jewel in the mainstream world that is being overlooked. The Dual Cores have been the dominator in workstations and mid-range computers for some time since the release of the Core 2 Duo and the Athlon X2 processors. Dual Core has been the way to go for everyone from business users up to gamers who either did not want to jump on the Quad Core bandwagon, either for monetary or even for performance reasons. That is all about to change soon with the release of a new processor that does not use two cores or even four cores. What else could it be, you ask? Well, imagine a processor with three cores!

That's right, AMD has created a new line of processors based on the Phenom series with a Triple Core design called the X3. Today, we are taking a look at the AMD Phenom X3 8750 which is a three core processor running at 2.4GHz. Will the Triple Core design fill the gap between Dual and Quad Core processors? Will current Dual Core users benefit from the new X3 technology if they switched from current Dual Core CPUs? The new AMD Triple Core Phenom X3s are going to be priced below current Quad Core CPUs, right about where current Dual Core CPUs are at, so price already makes it an interesting selling point. The Phenom X3s are part of the AMD "Cartwheel" platform, which includes the new AMD 780G motherboards, to make a powerful mainstream computer built for the majority of users on the market today.


 

Closer Look:

The Phenom X3 8750 that I received to evaluate came shipped in an OEM case directly from AMD. The case protects the processor from damage during transit. The black casing has two foam cushions on the inside and hug the CPU to protect the pins from bending or breaking off. Since this is an OEM processor, there is no heatsink or documentation provided, so an aftermarket cooler will be needed when installing it into a motherboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 





The Phenom X3 is manufactured using a 65nm process and has a max TPD of 95W. The X3 series also uses HyperTransport 3.0 and has an Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller which operates up to 1.8GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management. With the Triple Core design, the Cache breaks down to 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (384KB total L1 per processor), 512KB of L2 data cache per core (1.5MB total L2 per processor), and 2MB (shared) of L3 cache. As an enthusiast, this make me wonder right of the bat how well will it push the limits and overclock. I have always been told by mentors that multiples of two are better for computers when trying to overclock. The best way to find out is to put it through its paces.

 

 

Specifications:

 

CPU Model/Frequency
X3 8750 / 2.4GHz
X3 8650 / 2.3GHz
X3 8450 / 2.1GHz
L1 Cache Size
64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1 per processor)
L2 Cache Size
512KB of L2 data cache per core (1.5MB total L2 per processor)
L3 Cache Size
2MB (shared) 
Memory Controller Type
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller
Memory Controller Speed
Up to 1.8GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory Supported
Unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz)
HyperTransport 3.0
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 3.6GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Total Processor Bandwidth
Up to 31.5 GB/s bandwidth
Pachaging
Socket AM2+ 940-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Process Technology
65-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Transistor Count
~ 450 million (65nm)
Approximate Die Size
285 mm2 (65nm
Nominal Voltage
1.05-1.25 Volts
Max TDP
95 Watts

 

Testing:

Now on to what everyone has been waiting for. How well will the Triple Core Phenom 8750 stand up compared to Quad and Dual Core CPUs from both sides of the water? Since there are no Triple Core processors offered from Intel, it is going to be an interesting shootout here. Will that extra core make that much of a difference in the scientific and gaming benchmarks, or is this just a push to draw the market back toward AMD? I am going to be putting all of the processors to the test to see what speeds the Triple Core offers, so I will be running a series of benchmarks designed to stress the X3 8750 to the limits. All other hardware will be run at stock speeds to ensure there are no variables that might effect the scores.

 

Testing Setup AMD:

 

Testing Setup Intel:

 

Comparison Processors:

 

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the AMD Phenom X3 8750 was a task. I tried everything I could to push this processor, but it just would not budge. I dropped the HT multiplier to 7x and increased the voltage to 1.4v and still could not get the HT bus to go beyond 215MHz, no matter what. Anything beyond 215MHz would cause the board to lock up and blue screen seconds after booting into Windows. As everyone knows, AMD Phenoms 9000 series were not good overclockers and since the Phenom X3 has a locked maximum multiplier of 12x, there is was hope to push it much further on this 780G board. With a different board and a different chipset an overclock is quite possible we will be testing that over the next few weeks.

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02 Final
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.54
  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. Bioshock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. 3DMark 06 Professional

Testing:

First up are the system specific benchmarks that will test overall scientific performance.

 

To get things stated I will begin with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB, and 500MB files, as well as test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

ZIP:

 

 

RAR:

 

 

The X3 scores lower in Apophysis, which is CPU speed dependent, but faired average in the Winrar tests.

 

 

Testing:

Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

 

The X3 was not as fast as its Intel counterparts for the Specview tests but held on strong for the Vantage benchmark.

 

Testing:

Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

 

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

 

 
Memory Latency

 

 

Cache and Memory

 

 

 

File System

 

 

 

Physical Disks

 

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

 

 The X3 held on strong, but was demolished by the Intel Core 2 Duo in the Multi Core Efficiency tests.

 

 

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 



HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

 

In Cinebench, the X3 beat the Quad Core Phenom in the single core test. In Sciencemark the X3 even beat the Quad Core Intel.

Testing:

Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games in the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system. 

Video Settings:

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CPU:

 

 

 

GPU:

 

 

 

The X3 performed the same across the board as the other CPUs at higher resolutions. However, when overclocked, the scores seemed to suffer for the CPU benchmarks.

Testing:

PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real-time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.

 

Video Settings:

 


  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X3 was faster than the Quad Core Phenom, but a little behind the Intel chips until the highest resolution, where the X3 pulled through.

Testing:

Bioshock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the scores were even up across the board.

Testing:

Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.

 

Video Settings:

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was even up in the beginning, but the AMD chipset took over at higher resolutions.

Testing:

World In Conflict is a newly released DX10, real-time strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the lower resolutions the X3 was behind, but caught up at the higher resolutions.

Testing:

Call of Juarez is a DX10, first-person shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Phenom series took over this benchmark and slammed up the Intel chips the higher they went.

Testing:

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real-time strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the AMD chipset pushed the X3 over the Intel chips but was overtaken by the Quad Core Phenom at the higher resolutions.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X3 fell slightly behind the Intel chips but did better than the Quad Core Phenom. Talk about bragging rights.

Conclusion:

The Phenom X3 8750 is a truly new processor. Although not as fast as its Intel counterparts in the scientific benchmarks, the gaming benchmarks were a total turn around. It matched or beat the other processors in most of the benchmarks. The Phenom X3 was also better than the Phenom Quad Core 9600 in almost all of the benchmarks, showing that AMD is moving in the right direction if a Triple Core beats its Quad Core processor. From a price point, the Phenom X3 8750 is supposed to be released at around $195 versus the Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 which averages at $300. For the performance, the Phenom X3 has the best bang for the buck without hurting the bank account. Also considering that the Phenom 9600 "Black Box" costs about $60 more than the X3, it is a no brainer since the X3 kicked the 9600 in almost all of the tests. The biggest threat to the X3 is the Q6600 which is going for about $180 - $210 and is faster than the X3 with four cores. However, if you are an AMD lover or are looking to upgrade the CPU on that AM2 board, the X3 is the best choice for you.

The overclocking left much to be desired. As everyone knows, AMD Phenom processors are not particularly good at overclocking and being the person that I am, I push everything I review to the maximum. Considering the maximum I was able to get from the Phenom X3 8750 was 180MHz, I was sitting there staring at the screen feeling unfulfilled. At least with the Phenom 9600 "Black Box" the multiplier is unlocked, so I have more room to work with, but the Phenom X3 has a locked multi of 12x, so there was nothing more I could push without it becoming unstable.  So if you have an AMD setup or are considering an AMD based system, I highly recommend the Phenom X3 series over the current AMD Quad Core processors, but if Intel is your thing, there is no reason to run out and undergo a computer overhaul at the moment. Just a side note, both of the AMD Phenom processors were run on a motherboard with the 780G chipset. This chipset is geared for the "Cartwheel" platform, which includes the X3 series of Phenoms and not the Quad Core 9600, so the scores were not as impressive on the Phenom 9600 as they could be, based on other motherboards that OCC tested the "Black Box" on. This was done to keep the scores consistent with less possibilities for error or variables that could be included by changing motherboards for the review since the Phenom X3 is made for the 780G chipset.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: