AMD Athlon II 7850 Black Edition AM2+ CPU Review

ajmatson - 2009-04-09 15:45:11 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: April 27, 2009
Price: $69.00


Lately we have seen some of the hottest and fastest processors come to light, blowing our minds and emptying our wallets. What if you don't need all of that power, or want to pay a premium for the bleeding edge - but you don't want last year's leftovers either? Enter the AMD Athlon X2 series. At the end of last year, we took a look at the new Athlon X2 series processors - beginning with the AMD Athlon X2 7750 processor, which gave us a new dual core CPU to play with. While it might not be on the high end, the Athlon X2 series is perfect for those who need decent performance without breaking the bank - say, for workstations or family computers. Enter the AMD Athlon X2 7850. With a price tag under $70, this dual core processor allows you to have the performance you need, at a price you want to pay. So you ask yourself - for $70, what does it have to offer? Well, that is what we are here to find out; but, first let's take a better look at the CPU up close.

Closer Look:

The AMD Athlon X2 7850 came packaged in an sample container for testing, however the retail version will include the heatsink fan for you to be able to run it right away.






The Athlon X2 7850 is a socket AM2+ processor with a 940 pin mPGA packaging, running at 2.8GHz. There's 3MB total cache, breaking down to 512KB of L2 cache per core and a 2MB shared L3 cache. The Athlon X2 series is still being manufactured using a 65nm process, and has a maximum TDP of 95 watts. The Athlon X2 7850 also has HyperTransport 3.0, for up to 28.5 GB/s total processor to system bandwidth, and it supports DDR2 memory with a maximum speed of 1066MHz. The AMD Athlon X2 7850 is also a Black Edition processor, which means that it is unlocked - for better overclocking control.



Now that we have seen this beauty, let's plug her in and start the testing.



Model Number:
Athlon X2 7850
Clock Frequency:


Max TDP:
95 watts
Cache Size:
L1 Cache 64K (each for Instruction + Data)
L2 Cache: 512KB per core
L3 Cache: 2MB Shared L3
Process Technology:
65-nanometer SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
HyperTransport Technology Links:
One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 3.6GHz full duplex (1.8GHz x2)
Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller with speeds: Up to 1.8GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of Memory:
support unregistered DIMMs up to PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066MHz)
Die Size:
65nm = 285mm 
65nm = 450million
Socket AM2+ / 940-pin organic micro Pin Grid Array (micro-PGA)







To test how the new Athlon X2 7850 processor performs, I will put it through a series of benchmarks that test the scientific and video processing capabilities. To give you a comparison on how it compares to mainstream processors being used currently, I will place the results up against some other processors - including dual core, triple core, and quad core CPUs. This will give you an idea where the X2 7850 sits among other processors in its class and beyond. All hardware used was set to its native operating speeds, timings, and voltages to keep any variables from interfering with the scores. Because of time constraints and hardware availability, the video testing phase will have some of the newer chips included, however not all of them will be shown.



Testing Setup AMD AM2+ CPU:


Testing Setup AMD AM3 CPU:


Testing Setup Core2 CPU's:


Comparison CPUs:



Overclocked settings:

Overclocking the AMD Athlon X2 7850, even though it is a Black Edition processor, was a tedious task. AMD supplied us with nominal voltages of 1.2-1.25v, so to overclock I had to push the processor to 1.45v to reach any kind of stability. At that voltage, I was only able to push the multiplier to x15.5, which is only x1.5 more than the stock multiplier. Anything over x15.5 and the system would not boot at all. The same happened with the BUS speed - it maxed out at 207Mhz, with no more room to give. I even tried to keep the multi at x14 and push the BUS speed only, and I hit a wall at 224Mhz for a total of 3.136GHz, so the other option was a bit faster. For the overclocking tests, the speed will be 3.201GHz at 1.45v.







  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SPECviewperf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02
  7. CineBench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  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


The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.


Let's get started 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.






Lower is Better


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










In Apophysis, the X2 7850 was a bit faster than the X2 7750 and the E7200, but slower than the E8400 and quad core CPUs. In the WinRAR tests, it was average for the AMD chipsets, however it was behind the faster Intel based chipsets.


SPECviewperf 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.














Higher is Better


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


In the SPECviewperf test, the AMD X2 7850 held on strong compared to the other dual cores. In PCMark Vantage, the X2 7850 was a bit faster than the X2 7750, but behind the rest of the pack.


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 functions of the CPUs.












Processor Arithmetic


Multi-Core Efficiency


Memory Bandwidth


Memory Latency


Cache and Memory


File System


Physical Disks


Power Management Efficiency


Sandra had some mixed results, however the majority of the time the X2 7850 posted scores between the X2 7750 and the E7200.


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.













Higher is Better!


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.


Higher is Better


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


Higher is Better



Lower is Better


In ScienceMark, the X2 7850 took out the X2 7750, X4 810, E8400 and E7200. In CineBench, it started out strong, but then it gave in - only beating the X2 7750 in the multi-core test. In HD Tune, as usual, the AMD based chipset suffered.


Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km squared of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.








The dual core X2 7850 was slower in the beginning, however it came back in the end, pulling up to the middle of the pack.


Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way, there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.














In the Crysis Warhead test, the scores were too close to call.


BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddies". 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. The environment, as well as the story line, will wrap you up for hours on end.


Video Settings:











The BioShock tests were close also, being right where it should be.


Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.













All things being equal, the scores are still right on the money.


In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion, you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.













As the resolution increased, so did the performance of the Athlon X2 7850.


Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks, since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.













Still right around the triple core scores.


Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters, and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival!















The X2 trailed a bit here in Left 4 Dead.


3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 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.




















The X2 7850 comes in right behind the X3, right where it should be.


Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.













Again the X2 following behind the X3.


So what have we seen during these tests? While the AMD Athlon X2 7850 might not be as fast as the triple and quad core processors in raw power, it does hold its own - beating out the Athlon X2 7750 in the majority of the tests, as well as the Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 in some as well. Overall, I was impressed with the increased performance of the X2 7850 in the dual core sector. With all of the top end processors released lately, the mid-range has been forgotten, and it is nice to see a refresh available for those who need a budget conscious processor. If you are in the market for a dual core processor, or looking for a great priced processor for that family computer, then the AMD Athlon X2 7850 will fit that bill nicely. If you are looking for top end speed, then the dual core X2 7850 will not be enough for you, like a triple core or quad core would be. All in all, it does what it is supposed to do, and for that the X2 series offers the best bang for the buck, plain and simple. One thing I would have like to have seen from a dual core processor released in these fast times is support for DDR3. Having the option to use this CPU on both and AM2+ and AM3 motherboards with DDR3 support, like the Phenom II series, would have made this processor number one in the mid-range processor market.