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AMD Phenom II TWKR Black Edition Processor
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Date: Jun 30, 2009
Section:Processors
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction and Test System

 

Within the enthusiast scene, there exists an elite group of overclockers who push the limits of hardware to the breaking point. With the help of phase change coolers, dry ice, liquid nitrogen and even liquid helium, these enthusiasts achieve the seemingly impossible. In this world, maximum frequencies and world records are the motivation behind the countless hours spent modding and tweaking PC hardware.

AMD recognized the blood, sweat, and tears that extreme overclockers put into their hobby by creating a very special, limited edition processor made specifically for them. The Phenom II X4 TWKR Black Edition processor is a hand picked CPU that performs above and beyond the normal parameters we're accustomed to seeing from the Phenom II line. Under the extremely low temps supplied by LN2 or LHe cooling, these chips are said to yield monster overclocks. 

So what's the catch? First of all, AMD only made a few TWKR chips due to the extraordinary traits of of the product. So don't expect to find any at your favorite online retailer cause the TWKR is not currently for sale. At this time, they are distributed directly by AMD. Another disadvantage is the lack of warranty coverage on this product. Once its broken, that's all she wrote. At any rate, HotHardware recently got a chance to test out the TWKR and throw it on the test bench for some sub-zero overclocking. 


AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR Black Edition Processor

 HotHardware's Test System
 The Ultimate AMD Platform For Overclockers

AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR
(Black Edition Quad-Core)

Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
(AMD 790FX Chipset)

2x1GB Kingston DDR3-2000

CL 7-7-7-20 - DDR3-1600

Radeon HD 4870X2
Quad CrossFire

Patriot TorqX 128GB SSD
Solid Statte Disk

CPU Pot
Koolance CPU LN2 Evaporator

Cooling: Dry Ice
Approx. -60 C

Windows Vista Ultimate
ATI Catalyst v9.6




   

Preparing your system for sub-zero cooling is a bit more involved than the typical air cooled or liquid cooled setup. The CPU socket area will be subjected to freezing temperatures and requires insulation to prevent damage from condensation. We used a couple of packs of art eraser and filled in the area around the CPU. While there are several techniques to choose from, but we prefer this method due to the effectiveness and easy removal of the eraser from the board. The insulation process seals the motherboard's components from moisture and is a mandatory step for those who use phase change, LN2, or dry ice. Before placing the insulated pot on the TWKR, we also laid down a couple layers of fabric to absorb any moisture around the socket.

Unfortunately, were not able to get a hold of any liquid nitrogen or helium, so we benched with dry ice. But, as you can see in the screen shot above, we were able to maintain temps in the - 50' C to - 60' C range throughout testing.
 
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Overclocking and Thoughts

In our review of the Phenom II X4 955 processor, we were able to reach 3.72GHz at 1.5V using the stock cooler. Additionally, we saw idle temps of 35'C and load temps around 70'C. This time around, we used dry ice to cool the TWKR chip way down and cranked up the voltages not only to the CPU, but other system components as well.

For the results you'll see below, we used an SB/HT Voltage of 1.3V, a CPU PLL Voltage of 2.5V, a NB Voltage of 1.2V, a CPU NB VID of +0.300 and a CPU Voltage of 1.55V

Overclocking The Phenom II X4 TWKR
Pedal To The Metal



       
AMD Phenom II X4 TWKR Black Edition Overclocked to 4.73GHz

First, we would like to note that we tested the TWKR with a watercooling solution to find a good starting point for our dry ice benching. Using CoolIT's Boreas TEC Chiller, we managed to hit 4GHz with no issues. That's all we could get from the chip with this type of cooling, even though the load temps topped out at only 32'C. 

Then we installed the Koolance LN2 pot and after several overclocking sessions and about 20lbs of dry ice, settled in at a 4.73GHz overclock. At this speed, we were able to conduct several benchmarks in order to measure the performance gains created by such a large overclock. While the bandwidth numbers shown above are very good, we feel the 3DMark scores aren't anything to sneeze at either.

Under dry ice, the TWKR produced admirable results, but we weren't able to achieve the kind of overclocks these chips are known for. Even our watercooling overclock was surprisingly average. So what gives? The main culprit is cooling, according to AMD. For the TWKR to reach its fullest potential, liquid nitrogen or liquid helium must be used. Doing so would allow for a much higher overclock, "dropping (cooler base) temps from -70C to -188C makes a huge difference in terms of TWKR clockspeeds. You would likely get another GHz or more extra speed with LN2" we were told. The lesson here is to not skimp on the cooling when it comes to the TWKR. Once we get a hold of some liquid nitrogen or helium, we will post some more results and update this article. For now, here's a glimpse of what some others were able to achieve.
 



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