Overclocking and Overdrive 3.0
By now, we suspect that most of you have heard about the significant overclocking headroom left in AMD's latest Phenom II processors. In a previous article, we were able to achieve clock speed increases of about 800MHz over stock with the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition; other Phenom IIs we tested didn't fare quite so well, but 600MHz to 700MHz increases were not uncommon using nothing but the stock air cooler.
With our previous success in mind, we set out to overclock the new Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition using the stock PIB cooler we showed you on the previous page and an Asus 790FX based motherboard. With a bump in CPU core voltage to 1.5v, we were able to take the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition to just over 3.7GHz with complete stability--only a 500MHz increase. 3.8GHz - 4GHz would load Windows, but no amount of voltage allowed us to maintain stability. Remember, Black Edition processors are unlocked, so we were able to achieve this overclock by merely altering the CPU multiplier and voltage in the system BIOS or via AMD's OverDrive utility. As you can see in the screencap above, while overclocked, the 955 BE hummed along at a toasty 70'C+. That's a bit to warm for our liking, but keep in mind we were using the stock cooler. While idling, the chip barely broke the 35'C barrier.
We'd also like to show you a new version of the OverDrive utility AMD is prepping for release. OverDrive 3.0 as it is known offers all of the features of previous versions of the tool, in addition to fan speed controls, Black Edition Memory Profiles, and new smart application profiles. Fan speed control is self-explanatory. Black Edition Memory Profiles, however, require some explanation. Like EPP or XMP, BEMP polls the SPD in certain high-frequency DDR3 memory modules and applies the intended frequency and latency settings from within AOD 3.0. The feature requires BIOS support, and at this time, only a few memory kits are compatible with the feature. Those kits include:
- Corsair: CM3X2G1600C9DHX
- Kingston: KHX11000D3LLK2/2G and KHX12800D3K2/2G
- Mushkin: 991629
- OCZ: OCZ3AMD18002G
Which brings us to the smart application profiles. The smart profiles tool gives users the ability to alter system parameters on a per-application basis to either increase performance, like in games or content creation applications, or to lower power utilization, say while playing back digital media files.