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AMD Athlon II X2 255, X3 440, X4 635, Phenom II X2 555, and X4 910e Review

ajmatson    -   January 24, 2010
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Testing:

This is what we really have been waiting for. I will be running a series of scientific and video based benchmarks designed to give you a sense of where each processor sits on the performance scale. Using this information, you can decide whether or not it is justifiable to upgrade your current processor to the newer ones. I will also be placing the new AMD processors up against other AMD based Athlon II and Phenom II processors, as well as some of the current Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors - so you get a good understanding of the overall performance across the various series of processors. To eliminate any outside variables from tainting the scores, all hardware will be run at the same speeds, timings, and voltages unless noted as in the overclocking section. One thing to note is that because of time constraints and the availability of the processors prior to the launch and because of the limited change in the numbers from overclocking, the video game benchmarks will only be run at their stock speed so the overclocking numbers will not be included.
 

 

Testing Setup AMD AM3 CPU's:

 

Testing Setup: Intel Core i5/i7 Socket 1156

  

Comparison CPUs:

 

Overclocking:

Before we get started going over the overclocking, I wanted to make a note to explain why the Athlon II X2 255 numbers and settings were not included. During the overclocking of this processor, which I have never experienced before, I could no matter how hard I tried and how far I pushed the hardware I could not get anything out of this CPU, not even 10MHz. I even tried a suicide run on the processor and could not get the processor to boot at any voltage or combination of settings. Is this common with a CPU? Not really, however, it occasionally does happen. Since processors are not guaranteed or designed to be pushed past their specs, you can not guarantee every CPU will overclock the same as another, or in this case overclock at all. When you are overclocking, you may or may not get the same or better scores but, hey, half of the fun is pushing your hardware so happy overclocking.

 

Athlon II Overclocked settings:

  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X3 440 @ 3.323GHz (221x15) 1.425v
  • System Memory: OCZ Special Ops Urban Elite 2 x 2GB @ 1772MHz (7-7-7-20)
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 635 @ 3.625GHz (250x14.5) 1.45v
  • System Memory: OCZ Special Ops Urban Elite 2 x 2GB @ 1666MHz (7-7-7-20)

For the Athlon II series, which have locked multipliers, you have to find a delicate balance between the reference clock and the hardware's multipliers. When you raise the reference clock to overclock the CPU, there are two main multipliers you have to keep and eye on and those are the HyperTransport multiplier and the memory divider. As you raise the clock speeds, you have to adjust these two dividers to keep the hardware stable as the CPU speed raises. Sure, you can push them a bit as well however, as you do keep tabs on your voltages for each part to compensate for the increase in speed. For the X3 440, I was able to only push the reference clock to 221MHz before the system became unstable and could not complete the benchmarks, however, for the X4 635, I was able to get 250MHz on the reference clock but for this I had to drop the HyperTransport and memory dividers down a bit to compensate for the increase in speed. The final overclock for the Athlon II X3 440 was 3.323GHz, which was an increase of 323MHz and for the Athlon II X4 635 was 3.625GHz for an increase of 725MHz, which was about a 25% increase to the processor.

 

 

Phenom II Overclocked settings:

  • Processor: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 4.023GHz (217x18.5) 1.45v
  • System Memory: OCZ Special Ops Urban Elite 2 x 2GB @ 1740MHz (7-7-7-20)
  • Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 910e @ 3.120GHz (240x13) 1.425v
  • System Memory: OCZ Special Ops Urban Elite 2 x 2GB @ 1600MHz (7-7-7-20)

For the Phenom processors there was a bit of a switch for overclocking. The Phenom II X4 910e is not a Black Edition processor, so the CPU multiplier is locked and in this case at 13x, so to overclock it I had to take the same steps as with the Athlon II processors above and play with only the reference clock to get more speed out of it. I was able to push the reference clock on this energy efficient CPU to 240MHz, which brought the overclocked speed to 3.120GHz which was an increase of 620MHz, which is pretty good for an energy efficient processor designed with a lower voltage setting and TDP. For the Phenom II X2 555, the overclocking is a bit easier since it is a Black Edition processor with an unlocked multiplier. To overclock this processor, I pushed the multiplier as high as I could while remaining stable and able to pass the benchmarks. Once I got the multiplier as high as I could, I then proceeded to push the reference clock up to get even more speed out of this CPU. To my surprise this processor overclocked very well. I was able to push the reference clock to 217MHz which yielded an overclock speed of 4.023GHz, which was a increase of 823MHz and the only CPU to break the 4GHz barrier out of the bunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmarks:

  • Scientific & Data:
  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  4. POV Ray 3.7
  5. PCMark Vantage Professional
  6. Sandra XII
  7. ScienceMark 2.02
  8. Cinebench 10
  9. HD Tune 2.55
  • Video:
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World At War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Fallout 3 
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage



  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Specifications & Features
  3. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  4. Testing: Apophysis, WinRAR
  5. Testing: Office 2007, POV Ray, PCMark Vantage
  6. Testing: SiSoft Sandra
  7. Testing: Sciencemark, Cinebench 10, HDTune
  8. Testing: Far Cry 2
  9. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  10. Testing: Bioshock
  11. Testing: Call of Duty World at War
  12. Testing: Dead Space
  13. Testing: Fallout 3
  14. Testing: Left 4 Dead
  15. Testing: 3DMark06
  16. Testing: 3DMark Vantage
  17. Conclusion
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