Wednesday, 29 August 2012

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor Performance & Unlock core Secrets Review

Phenom II X4 955 - 3.2GHz

In our review of the Phenom II X4 940 processor we saw that the new 45nm processors looked much improved from both a performance and overclocking stand point. It is hard to believe it has been five months since AMD announced the Phenom II X4 940 processor, but it has been. Late last month AMD announced the Phenom II 955 Black Edition processor, which is more than just a 200MHz speed bump as brings socket AM3 support to the very top of AMD's desktop offerings.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor

This processor is based off the same 45nm 'Deneb' core that the previous Phenom II processors use, but with a few tweaks and a new memory controller. This new memory controller allows the processor to run both DDR2 and DDR3 memory kits, which is good news for AMD as up to a 5% performance boost can be seen when running DDR3 memory on Phenom II processors. What is even better news is that AM3 processors are 100% backwards compatible with motherboards using AM2+ sockets, which means you do not have to run out and buy a brand new Socket AM3 motherboard and a DDR3 memory kit to upgrade to one of these processors.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor Socket AM3





With a clock frequency of 3.2GHz, the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is the fastest clocked quad-core processor AMD has ever released. The best part of the Phenom II X4 955 is that is can be purchased for just $245 shipped. Based on pricing alone, the Phenom II X4 955 could be best compared to the $264 Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz processor.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor Stock 3.2Ghz

The Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor operates at 3.2GHz and features 6 MB of L3 cache. Each individual core features 64 KB of L1 Data cache, 64 KB of L1 Instruction cache, and 512 KB of L2 cache. Just like the other Phenom II X4 processors the 955 is a 125 Watt TDP chip. Pictured above is a CPU-Z screenshot showing the processor running at it's full potential with stock settings.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor

If you enable AMD Cool'n'Quiet the processor will automatically reduce it's internal multiplier down to x4 and lower the core voltage for power savings. At just 800MHz and less than a Volt of power running to the processor it becomes a more energy efficient platform.

CPU Name Cores Clock L2/L3 Cache HT Bus Socket TDP Launch Price
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 4 3.2GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $245
AMD Phenom II X4 945 4 3.0GHz 2+6MB 4000MHz AM3 125W $225
AMD Phenom II X4 940 4 3.0GHz 2+6MB 3600MHz AM2+ 125W $189
AMD Phenom II X4 920 4 2.8GHz 2+6MB 3600MHz AM2+ 125W $171
AMD Phenom II X4 810 4 2.6GHz 2+4MB 4000MHz AM3 95W $187
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE 3 2.8GHz 1.5+6MB 4000MHz AM3 95W $139
AMD Phenom II X3 710 3 2.6GHz 1.5+6MB 4000MHz AM3 95W $119

 The AMD Phenom II product stack is starting to look really good with prices starting out at $119 and rising up to $245. AMD clearly has budget friendly processors that have great features and clock frequencies. Let's take a look at how the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition processor does against a couple dozen other processors. 

The Test System

Before we look at the numbers, here is a brief glance at the test system that was used. 

The Test System
AMD Test Platform
Component Brand/Model
Processor All AM2 and AM2+ CPUs
Motherboard MSI DKA790GX Platinum
Memory Mushkin PC2-8500
Video Card EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512
Hard Drive Western Digital RaptorX 150GB
Cooling XIGMATEK HDT-S1283
Power Supply Cooler Master UCP-1100W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. All of the modules were run in dual channel mode with a 120mm fan placed on top of them to keep them cool except for the Core i7 system that was run in triple channel. The EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB used NVIDIA ForceWare 169.28 video card drivers. The LGA 775 test system used the ASUS P5E3 motherboard using BIOS version 1404 and the LGA 1366 test system used the ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard with BIOS v8004. The AMD Phenom testing was done on the MSI K9A2 Platinum motherboard with BIOS v1.5b5 installed along with ATI system driver version 8.50.

Memory Settings:
  • Core i7 920, 940, 965 - 1600MHz @ 8-8-8-24 (DDR3)
  • QX9775 - 800MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (FB-DIMM)
  • QX9770 - 1600MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Q9550 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Q9400 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Q9300 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Q8200 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • QX6850 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Q6600 - 1066MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • E8500 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • E7200 - 1066MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • E6750 - 1333MHz @ 7-7-7-20 (DDR3)
  • Phenom II 955 - 1066MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Phenom II 940 - 1066MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Phenom II 920 - 1066MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Phenom X4 9950 - 800MHz @ 4-4-4-12 (DDR2)
  • Phenom X4 9850 - 800MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Phenom X4 9600 - 800MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Phenom X4 9350e - 800MHz @ 4-4-4-12 (DDR2)
  • Phenom X3 8750 - 800MHz @ 5-5-5-15 (DDR2)
  • Athlon 64 X2 5000+ - 800MHz @ 4-4-4-12 (DDR2)
Here is the Intel LGA 1366 Test platform:




Intel Test Platform
Component Brand/Model
Processor See Above
Motherboard
ASUS P6T Deluxe

Memory
6GB Corsair DDR3 1600MHz

Video Card EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512
Hard Drive Western Digital RaptorX 150GB
Cooling Thermaltake BigWater 760i
Power Supply Corsair HX1000W
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
Here is the Intel LGA 775 Test platform:




Intel Test Platform
Component
Brand/Model

Processor
See Above
Motherboard
ASUS P5E3 Deluxe

Memory
4GB Corsair DDR3 1800C7

Video Card
EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive
Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling
Corsair Nautilus 500

Power Supply
PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit


Here is the Intel Skulltrail Test platform:

Skulltrail Test Platform
Component Brand/Model
Processor 2x Intel Core 2 QX9775

Motherboard
Intel D5400XS 

Memory
4GB Micron 800MHz FB-DIMM

Video Card EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 512

Hard Drive Western Digital RaptorX 150GB

Cooling Zalman AT Fan/Heatsink

Power Supply PC Power and Cooling 1KW

Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit


Sandra 2009 Memory Bandwidth 

Sandra 2009 SP2 Benchmark Scores

Results: Sandra 2009 SP2 showed that the AMD Phenom II X4 955 processor had the fourth highest memory bandwidth of all the processors teted. The Intel LGA775 and Phenom I/II processors are never going to get much better than this as the memory controller as the Intel Core i7 series has an integrated memory controller in the processor and triple-channel DDR3 memory. That is the reason it blows away the other Intel and AMD processors.
Editor's Note: Just for fun we also ran the memory at 800MHz with 4-4-4-12 timings and found the average bandwidth to be reduced to 10,656 MB/s from the 12,949 MB/s shown in the chart above. This goes to show the significance of running the memory at 1066MHz versus 800MHz.

Cinebench R10

Cinebench R10 Results

Results: Running Cinebench R10 in 64-bit mode showed a significant improvement in performance on all of the processors and the results were in-line with what we expected from running Cinebench R9.5!  The Phenom II X4 955 was slightly slower than the Intel QX9770 once again, but was quicker than the Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 in the 64-bit test. It seems that the top end of the AMD processors can finally give many of the Intel processors a run for their money now.

Futuremark 3DMark06 

Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results
Futuremark CPU Benchmark Results

 Benchmark Results: The 3DMark 2006 CPU test showed that the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition was faster than the Intel Q9550 once again!

World in Conflict 

World in Conflict Benchmark Results
World in Conflict Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results with a GeForce GTX 295 Graphics Card: World In Conflict showed the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition was clearly in the lead and rightly so as it has a faster clock frequency and more physical cores.

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead Benchmark Results
Crysis Warhead Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results with a GeForce GTX 295 Graphics Card: Crysis Warhead is tough on video cards with the image quality settings cranked up to high as you can see in the charts above, but the CPU in the system clearly plays an important role as well. The higher the resolution the more GPU limited the system comes, so the performance between the processors is not as great.

Power Consumption

Power Consumption Results

Results: The power supply that we have dedicated to just our CPU testing systems recently failed and is no longer in production. Since we had to change power supply numbers all of the processors will have to be re-tested. For the time being we ran power consumption tests on the AMD Phenom II 955 versus the AMD Phenom II X3 720. This is an interesting comparison since one is a quad-core processor and the other is a triple-core. Notice the idle power consumption is roughly the same, but the quad-core uses 43W more under full CPU load. This is one of the reasons that the triple-core processors are rated at 95W TDP, while the quad-cores are rated at 125W TDP.

Phenom II X4 955 Overclocking

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor Default Settings

With stock BIOS settings, the Phenom II X4 955 processor runs with a 200MHz bus speed and an 16.0x multiplier that is used to reach the final core clock of 3.20GHz. Let's start off by overclocking without adjusting any voltages to see what the Phenom II X4 955quad-core processor can do out of the box by just increasing the multipliers. 

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Processor Overclocking

By just raising the multiplier we were able to easily reach 3.80GHz, which is an overclock of 600MHz with no voltage changes at all.

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Overclocked to 3.9GHz

By bumping up the CPU voltage to 1.45V we were able to increase the multiplier up to 19.5x, which is enough to reach 3.90GHz!  Not a bad overclock for just changing the multiplier and bumping up the voltage a little bit. Due to time constraints we did touch the bus speed, but a 700MHz overclock is enough to put a smile on most enthusiasts faces. In the hands of extreme overclockers these chips have been known to break 7GHz, so the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is no joke when it comes to overclocking. 

Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Overclock Benchmarking

When it comes to benchmarks, the overclocked Phenom II X4 955 processor was nearly 20% quicker!

Unlocking Cores - Secrets

Phenom II X4 955 is a quad core processor. There are no cores to unlock b/c no disabled core.

Conclusion

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Processor 

The AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition is the fastest desktop processor in AMD's aresnal and rightly so, as it supports socket AM3 technology and a 3.2GHz clock frequency. 

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Tags:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 vs Core i7 965 vs i7 920 vs i7 940 vs qx9775 vs qx9770 vs q9550 vs q9400 vs q9300 vs q8200 vs q6600 vs e8500 vs II x3 720 vs 9950 vs 9850 vs x4 940 vs x4 920 vs qx6850 vs x3 810 vs x3 810 vs x4 9600 vs e7200 vs e6750 vs x2 7750 vs x2 5000+ vs x2 5050e, comparison, microarchitechture, multicore, Instruction sets sse3 sse4a, desktop, northbrigde hypertransport, power management, Gaming Overclocking.

     

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