I had no idea what to expect from this chip when I plugged it in. Looking around at other reviews and forums talking about overclocking this chip, there are a lot of people who haven’t managed to push the Phenom past 2.6GHz, but then there seem to be people who seem to run it at 2750MHz no problems.
My first step when overclocking a new rig is to see how far it will go on stock voltages. I am happy to report that by simply upping the HTT speed on this motherboard (and dropping the RAM divider to compensate) I was able to run all these tests at the above-tested speed of 2750MHz (250MHz HTT x 11).
This could be due in part to the excellent power management of this motherboard (it’s designed for quad core as the sticker on the front of the box tells me), but I would say that any Phenom-compatible motherboard could hit this speed with this chip with a little bit of tweaking.
To take things further, I dropped the CPU, NB and HTT link multipliers, increased CPU and RAM voltages, and ramped up the HTT to find the limits of the motherboard. I found a stable limit at 260MHz; anything above 261MHz would reboot instantly. Ramping the CPU multiplier back up it was happily running at 2863MHz, and was stable through anything I could throw at it. This board has been known to break 450MHz HTT with Athlon X2 chips so there is something peculiar to the Phenom chips which is limiting HTT speeds. Perhaps future BIOS revisions will fix this, who knows.
Whether or not these numbers impress you, I will say that the general Windows experience of this chip has been great for me. Windows boots up and shuts down quickly, most applications open in the blink of an eye, and multitasking doesn’t slow it down at all; everything you’d expect from a quad core CPU really. Overclocking was easy, and throughout testing temps never went above 60°C under my GeminII cooler, even with 1.45V of core voltage (stock is 1.20V)
As I am writing this, AMD has announced that they will be releasing new Phenoms with B3 stepping later this month. The only noticeable difference between these and the B2 chip used today is that AMD has removed the infamous TLB errata, however there are no performance or overclock improvements to be had unfortunately. You will be able to denote the difference between the two by the "50" at the end of the model number on the new chips, i.e. the B3 version of the 9500 will become the 9550.
So at the end of the day, if you’re after solid performance for a budget price, and you have a soft spot for AMD like I do, then it’s hard to be disappointed with this chip. You will get more performance out of overclocking the more expensive Intel quad core CPU, but if you want to stick with AMD, particularly if you have an old AM2 board that supports these new processors, then I can highly recommend you go out (or stay in, more likely) and order one of these puppies today.
Great price, cheapest quad core processor on the market.
Easy upgrade for existing AM2 users.
Limited overclocking potential.