Vital Signs and Overclocking
As you saw on the previous page, the new Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition and Phenom X4 9350e physically look just like all current Phenom processors. They utilizes the same packaging and 940-pin Socket AM2+ configuration.
We recieved Phenom X4 9950 Black Edition and X4 9350e processors for testing, hence the two sets of CPU-Z screen shots above. As you can see, CPU-Z correctly identifies and outlines the Phenom X4 9950's X4 9350e's inner workings, save for the missing "e" in the 9350e's name. The processors are based on the Agena core with socket AM2+ packaging. They are clocked at 2.6GHz (13 x 200MHz) and 2.0GHz (10 x 200MHz) respectively. Both chips are reported as stepping ‘DR-B3’ and they both support all of the instructions sets listed in the aptly names "instructions" section of CPU-Z. The processors' 2MB L2 cache configuration (512KB per core) is 16-way set associative, but their 2MB of shared L3-cache is 32-way set associative. With the exception of their clock speeds and power ratings mentioned on the previous page, technically, nothing else has changed with these new chips since the introduction of the first B3-Phenoms.
We know many of you are wondering just how much clock speed headroom these new Phenoms have left under their hoods, so we spent some time overclocking our chips using a Gigabyte 790FX-chipset based motherboard. Because the Phenom X4 9950 is a "Black Edition" processor, its multiplier is unlocked and can be increased for east overclocking. The X4 9350e, however could only be overclocked by altering the HT frequency, which requires much more work.
By altering its multiplier and increasing the CPU voltage to 1.45v, we were able to take our Phenom X4 9950 to an respectable 3.1GHz using nothing but a stock AMD PIB cooler. Higher frequencies were possible, but we couldn't keep the system 100% stable, so we backed things down to 3.1GHz. While running at that speed, we re-ran some tests and also monitored core temperatures and found that the chip never broke the 60ºC mark, and hovered around 58ºC under load - at least according to AMD's Overdrive software. That is one heck of an overclock and relatively cool temperatures for a Phenom in our opinion. If the majority of chips have the same amount of headroom as ours, we suspect the 9950 Black Edition will be appealing to AMD CPU enthusiasts looking for the best the company has to offer.
As for the X4 9350e, we couldn't stabilize our system with any HT reference clock above 277MHz, which resulted in a respectable overclock to 2.77GHz. To acheive that speed, however, we had to drop the HT link and memory controller multipliers, as you can see in the CPU-Z screenshot to the left.