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Lab Update: AMD Athlon II X4 620 and Lynnfield Memory

Posted on 9th Oct 2009 at 11:17 by Richard Swinburne with 14 comments

Richard Swinburne
This week I have been mostly testing AMD's Athlon II X2 620 CPU.

Yes, we're a bit behind, but the Radeons arrived and deciding between a £75 quad core or the latest and shiniest DirectX 11 graphics cards is like wondering whether we'd rather eat out at Marcus Wareing, or go to a burger van at a motorway lay-by.

For the record, The Berkeley is fantastic.

Anyway, now the Radeons are mostly done with I've had time to crack on with AMDs cheap chip; the 620. But, why does anyone need a sort-of-fast quad core? Given previous slower quad cores from AMD have been nothing more than a wet fart, I don't really have much hope for the 620 and compared to a MHz-laden dual core like the Phenom II X2 550 or Athlon II X2 250 it does seem in need of a change of underwear.

However, the L3 cacheless 620 does seem to overclock quite happily. A nice, round 250MHz HT clock gives 3.25GHz, and we've squeezed it up to 275MHz, which makes a tasty 3.575GHz. Ideally AMD really needs a Black Edition Propus core - but that risks cannablising its Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition or even its full fat Phenom II X4s.

I've spoken to some people who swear by the 620, and understanding the circumstances in which they use it - like a home theatre - I can appreciate that. Using it with the highly threaded CoreAVC codec, for example, would probably work wonders. I still don't think its a substitute for a fast dual core in a budget build though; the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition is the same price and comes unlocked too.

On the topic of overclocking, we're using the MSI 790FX-GD70 as our standard AM3 CPU backbone and for the first time I've actually used the little OC twisty-button-thing. Clock up the HT to a safe but high degree, then gently ease it up further using the knob, while watching all the respective clocks increase in CPU-Z while concurrently testing stability in between. It's far more economical than going back to the BIOS all the time, though the quality of that little knob leaves a lot to be desired. It feels cheap and plasticy (because it is) and doesn't register every click that it's turned. It also can't be turned DOWN either, just up, which is annoying if you push it a shade too far.

Finally, a Lynnfield Memory Performance feature is on the cards shortly too: we're aiming to test high to low memory speeds at different CAS latencies on a Gigabyte P55-UD5 to see what makes a difference, if any. After chatting with the lead FAE at a popular memory company recently, she claimed the EVGA and Gigabyte UD5/6 boards were notably better for overclocking memory, so that's why we're using it.

We've also got a load of memory in from lots of manufacturers so you can vote which bling you like most. All for a bit of fun since in reality heatspreaders/sinks make as much difference as the paint on your car will increase it's speed.

That and Windows 7 launches in a few weeks! Woo!

14 Comments

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Jack_Pepsi 9th October 2009, 13:40 Quote
^^

Looking forward to the memory insight and the Windows 7 article(s). As for the cheap quad core - I think it makes perfect sense - financially and... horrible term to use but (looks over both shoulders) future proofing?
yakyb 9th October 2009, 14:22 Quote
the memory article will be pretty interesting (although i just bought a load yesterday!!)

as for the cheap quad im not entirely sure of the benefit of it but can see it being a big oem success
Bindibadgi 9th October 2009, 15:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yakyb
the memory article will be pretty interesting (although i just bought a load yesterday!!)

as for the cheap quad im not entirely sure of the benefit of it but can see it being a big oem success

Yea same, it's not looking overly wonderful in the benchmarks to be honest.

Im running the memory now, it'll take me about a week of testing to do all the latencies and frequencies :(
Jack_Pepsi 9th October 2009, 15:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Im running the memory now, it'll take me about a week of testing to do all the latencies and frequencies :(

You love it!
Xir 9th October 2009, 16:42 Quote
...this used to be a hot topic, not hearing a lot of it lately:

for Gaming*, better a fast dualcore or a mediocre quad-core?

(if answer=fast dual core, please reread "bittech buyers guide" and explain why the gaming pc's all are quad) :)

*not folding, not surfing 20 websites and playing desktoptowerdefence on one...plain old gaming
wuyanxu 9th October 2009, 17:06 Quote
really interested in learning the age old question of latency vs speed for LGA1156 platform.

whether it's better to run my Dominators at 1520 8-8-8-24 or 1900 9-10-10-28 (or something similar)
Bindibadgi 9th October 2009, 19:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xir

(if answer=fast dual core, please reread "bittech buyers guide" and explain why the gaming pc's all are quad) :)

Mhz before cores with gaming still. PCs must achieve a good overclock into high 3+Ghz before we consider taping on more cores. The PCs CPU scale according to workload, not gaming. Gaming is a standard factor that scales according to graphics card not CPU in our PCs. ;)
docodine 10th October 2009, 07:03 Quote
Is it worth $40ish more for the Phenom II X4 810? You're just getting L3 cache, as far as I can see.
Xir 10th October 2009, 19:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Mhz before cores with gaming still. PCs must achieve a good overclock into high 3+Ghz before we consider taping on more cores. The PCs CPU scale according to workload, not gaming. Gaming is a standard factor that scales according to graphics card not CPU in our PCs. ;)

So the gaming PC's are quads, because they are GPU not CPU limited?

Thx for the fast answer :D

Xir
Bindibadgi 11th October 2009, 06:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by docodine
Is it worth $40ish more for the Phenom II X4 810? You're just getting L3 cache, as far as I can see.

I'd get the 720 Black Edition personally.
frontline 11th October 2009, 16:35 Quote
Any chance of a similar guide for those of us using DDR3 on AM3 boards? I must admit that i'm completely confused regarding the benefits of running at 1066, 1333 or 1600 with the subsequent trade-off in latencies.
xaser04 12th October 2009, 09:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by docodine
Is it worth $40ish more for the Phenom II X4 810? You're just getting L3 cache, as far as I can see.

Ignoring all other cpus; yes, the Athlon Quads are crippled due to their lack of L3 cache. (Based on reviews currently on the internet).

As for the dual vs Quad arguement.

My answer - Super fast Quad (core i7 920 @ 4ghz FTW!!).. :-p
Bindibadgi 13th October 2009, 01:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by frontline
Any chance of a similar guide for those of us using DDR3 on AM3 boards? I must admit that i'm completely confused regarding the benefits of running at 1066, 1333 or 1600 with the subsequent trade-off in latencies.

Well, 1333 or 1600! Or, just 1600 haha :P CL9-8-7-6?
Geoff x 15th October 2009, 00:00 Quote
What about the Athlon II X3 425 that YoYoTech are advertising for £37?
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