AMD Unleashed: Four CPUs, Two GPUs, All Overclocked

Comparison To The $1,250 PC

Now it’s time to use the results from our Radeon HD 4870 X2 testing to compare the three top AMD processors to an Intel Core 2 Quad. In the following charts, the purple Athlon 7750 data has been replaced with data taken from the SBM $1,250 PC, and all percentages are calculated based on the stock SBM machine.

While the overclocked Radeon HD 4870 X2 frequencies are nearly identical, again, keep in mind for games that the SBM machine was running Catalyst 8.12 display drivers, while the AMD machines were running newer Catalyst 9.2 drivers.

The Phenom II X4 940 BE comes out on top in games. However, its two largest victories are with Unreal Tournament 3 and Supreme Commander, which were already more than playable with any of these processors. The poor showing again in Supreme Commander could very well be a result of the older display drivers, as both the $625 and $1,250 systems fell far short of these AMD processors’ performance for this game. Driver suspicions aside, the Phenom II delivers solid performance and proves it is worthy of being in this level of a gaming system. 

Impressive victories in MainConcept and WinRAR were not enough to bring the higher-clocked Phenom II up to the same overall combined score as the 3.62 GHz Q9550. While our voltages were pushed high, and 3.8 GHz is far from a guarantee, we can't overlook the $80 savings that comes along with choosing the Phenom II X4 940 BE.

The overclocked Phenom II X3 720 BE is able to catch up to the $1,250 PC in games, but it is left in the dust in the majority of the encoding and applications tests. The Phenom X4 9950 only takes a win with Supreme Commander. But otherwise, it never really stands a chance against the quad-core Intel. With both quad-core processors sharing advantages in the same applications, it’s a story of “anything you can do I can do better.” Of course, the Core 2 Quad Q9550 costs nearly twice as much as either of the AMD processors, so opting for them instead means you would have quite a few extra bones to throw toward other hardware if either of these processors delivers the desired level of performance. 

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  • waxdart
    I just skipped to the conclusion to see if reading the whole thing would be worth it.

    Seems to me like AMD know there stuff is slower and you have to accept that you have to overclock, Or their products have huge temperature problems at higher levels, so let’s "re-brand" it over clocking and let the punter spend X on cooling.

    How much goes into over clocking equipment Vs getting a CPU that runs faster and cooler in the first place? Is that much being saved?
    /Honest question with a hint of sarcasm.

    Also - I accept that just getting a system to over clock as much as possible is a valid waste of free time and good money as any other. If you enjoy it go for it.
  • wild9
    Phenom II X4 is good at stock speed compared to Intel (especially games like GTA IV), and overclocks quite well. Practically any CPU of this nature (both AMD and Intel), will require focus on keeping temps down if you want a decent overclock.