We had a chance to play with one of the world’s first Phenom 9700 processors. As we said earlier, AMD will launch the 2.2 GHz Phenom 9500 and the 2.3GHz Phenom 9600 CPUs, but we got our hands on an unlocked 2.4GHz. Yes, that is the one that got postponed to 2008.
Phenom 9500 and 9700 bring some R300 memories back, and remind us of Uwe’s Radeon 9700 launch with the live guns playing Half Life 2 in Munich.
Anyway, after more than six months of delays and serious problems, we had a chance to see a Phenom in action. Overall, it looks good, not great. It has to be faster.
Naturally, we tried to overclock the 2.4GHz part and AMD let us do only selected application benchmarking, obviously the ones that make them look good. This is not the way to make any impressive conclusion, but the machine at 2.4GHz runs well with 3Dmark06, Call or Juarez benchmark, can do some serious encoding and zipping, but we had very few numbers that were close to the testing that we do and understand.
A few years ago we found that if you can get a CPU to run 3Dmark06 stable, it will be stable in just about anything. We managed to overclock it instantly to 2.8 GHz and we even did some independent core overclocking, where two were working at 2.4GHz and two 2.8 GHz; and again, we gained a lot, but more about this one later.
Phenom 9700 2.4GHz runs at 1.25V and if you want it stable at 2.8 and 2.915, which was our absolute record, you need between 1.35 and 1.425V. We managed to boot at 3015GHz, but we were never able to make it stable. We also learned that MSI's 790FX board might be a better overclocker, so as soon as we get Phenom 2.4GHz or faster unlocked we will continue to play with it.
Phenom 2.915MHz was almost stable, but it tends to crash in the final snow test. If we had more time we would have probably made this clock possible, too. Our Finnish colleagues managed to get it stable at 3.0GHz, but it all depends on the sample you have and obviously, they are far more experienced in this, as Sampsa and Markus are holding some top scores in 3Dmark06 on some insanely fast machines.
We did most of the overclocking in Overdrive; the application itself needs some tweaking, but it works great. When we tried to overclock the HT, we did it in Bios but we could not go over 215MHz, at least not with 12 -13 multiplier. AMD also supports 0.5 steps, which make it even easier to overclock.
On a non-overclocked Phenom 2.4 you score about 1200 in 3Dmark06, while with 2.8GHz you can increase the Crossfire 2x 3850 performance, which is not bad. We need a CPU and more time to tell you more. Here is what we got.
2.4GHz Phenoms and faster to come in late Q1