phenom ii

Notes on my new 1100t system

Notes on 1100T 3.3/3.7 turbo AMD Phenom x6 on Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 w/8 Gb 1600 MHz DDR3 – S. Hanifl 28/11/11 Evening edited 26/12/11.

The processor has six cores and not many apps are written to take advantage of the threads, however when multitasking such as video+ games+music+background repair the machine functions without a hiccup except with heavy HDD use. The 3.3 GHz with turbo ensures that the single threaded games operate well and I think you would need an SSD to truly capitalize on resources on the processor. The system is now GPU bound on World of Warcraft (4870 Radeon HD) which is truly remarkable given the low cost of the cpu.

The processor does not have a sufficient heat sink for the processor. I highly recommend buying a separate high end air or water cooler for it. When Rift is running the processor approaches 65 degrees, despite the processor being very tightly seated. The heatsink was difficult to install and I doubt the processor and motherboard can take much more strain… Time will tell.

In combination with a Gigabyte 990FX motherboard and Radeon HD 4870 Dark Knight the performance is flawless. The motherboard has trouble on it’s high power usb connections when plugging into a powered usb 2.0 hub. I recommend for a newer system to purchase usb 3.0 hubs and replace your current 2.0 hubs, since you will see an overall increase anyway on the 2.0 connections. This was and old hub so mileage may vary.

Until multithreaded apps become commonplace most programs are compiled for a single thread, the major benefit of buying the 1100T is the high frequency it has per core with the short term turbo boost it provides. You still need to give a process a High priority when it competes with windows for time. I recommend a dynamic process thread priority program for best results. If you are running multiple very intensive tasks there are load balancing programs for process priority that help quite a bit.

The 1100T is a good upgrade and seems to fulfill average high end user needs. Go for a bulldozer 6 or 8 core if you want to overclock extensively, this processor seems to be close to its thermal limit already @ 3.3 Ghz with the stock cooler.

The stock cooler is quite large and hefty but is problematic to attach to the board. AMD needs to slightly rework their heat sinks with slightly more clearance since I worried that I would break tyre motherboard or processor when installing it.

The AM3 socket has seen it’s time. If you want to buy a machine with good future socket support I think an A8 processor would be a better idea. Then again the 1100T can be swapped out for a Bulldozer 6 or 8 core, so there is an upgrade path already available. I expect amd to discontinue this socket since the same pin arrangement since their first dual core athlon 64.

 

The motherboard is non UEFI however does have a 990fx chipset and boosted power on some USB connections. I will conduct a test on the charge times of my Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab android devices to see if the charge time is close to a wall socket adapter. I know an older mp4 player I had managed to charge itself in twice the time it would have taken on a standard usb port. One other note, the IO shim did not install very well, I think that was my fault but from what I can see I think my box came missing the EMI shim. Gigabyte is attempting to become a top of the line provider like ASUS and so far seems to be getting close to their goal. The motherboard box was bare compared to an ASUS board but I had enough parts with everything I purchased to build the system properly nonetheless. Before buying this board make sure you have researched your parts list well, I did not but was fortunate. The manual is actually useful for a change. You have to manually gang your memory, just load the defaults and then change the setting to ganged in manual without changing any other settings to enable this setting.

 

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1100T Phenom x6 3.3 ghz with 3.7 ghz turbo, Gigabyte ga-990fxa-ud3 review after 1 month of use

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Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3

Phenom 1100T X6 3.3 GHz/3.7 GHz Turbo

8 GB DDR3-1600MHz RAM

Windows 7 Pro 64.bit (Ed: as of 2013 Windows 8 Pro)

2TB 7200 RPM WD Green Drive HDD (motherboard does support higher than 2TB)

Rating 7/10

Positives:

The 1100T comes in clocked at 3.3GHz, with the Cores able to turbo at 3.7GHz, ensuring that a heavily multi-tasked system gets enough cores/threads… and a speed boost when necessary. Windows 7 seems to have some rudimentary scheduling of threads on different cores or perhaps it is just counting from 0 to 5 and back to core 0 but either way with 6 cores on Windows 7 I can have all my apps respond quickly and switch between them easily. (Ed: Windows 8 seems to make even more use of the 6 cores than Windows 7.)

The motherboard allows for decent overclocking but most importantly it is stable. I’ve had too many systems behave like a Ferrari: very fast but no handling. This is much more like a Porsche, slightly slower than you’d think but extremely sticky on the road. The memory I am using are inexpensive 2x G.Skill 4 Gigabyte 1600MHz DDR3 modules and so far everything has been great in combination. Make sure to clear the CMOS with the RAM uninstalled to clear successfully.

The stock cooler is able to keep up with the processor even in a well heated apartment, however:

Negatives:

…the cooler is barely adequate to do the job. AMD would be much better off shipping coolers capable of running the processors at normal values quietly. This has been a trend with AMD where the coolers just haven’t kept pace with the processors they ship with. Expect to shell out an extra $50 for a 3rd party cooler if your home is above 85 deg. F. during summer or winter OR you don’t clean the fan and heat-sink regularly. (Ed: In all fairness, AMD is behind Intel when it comes to heat generation/Hz, and the cooler is quite large.)

The overall performance is adequate to run Windows 7 with all the bells and whistles, plus apps but just over the bar. If it were not for the drastic reduction in price and adequate performance at the same price point compared to Intel , this would be a sore point. However, the 1100T does manage to be snappy and responsive, I suspect the Turbo mode has a lot to do with this. There is no sense buying a 1090T (without Turbo) when the 1100T or Bulldozers have a Turbo function.

With Windows 7 64-bit Pro, 64-bit Processor, and a computer that has above 32-bit hardware but you are still limited by others who simply refuse to upgrade to 64-bit, meaning many apps you will use have been compiled for 32-bit. Ergo, I am not getting the performance I’ve paid for. But this has been true for everyone up to this point in the PC realm due to legacy systems. While this is no excuse not to buy a 64-bit Windows package simply to be able to use more than 4 GB of RAM, you sometimes feel like this is the only reason you bother.

…While I recommend this processor and motherboard at the price point of $350 incl. shipping I cannot say it is the most intelligent combination to make your system future proof, except for the 6 cores and high MHz. In retrospect I should have gone with a Bulldozer system, however the total cost of the motherboard, processor and 8Gb RAM was $400, and once all my other parts were moved onto this board I had a decent entry level gaming system (Ed: More like a mid-range gaming system at the time). I recommend this system for anyone who needs an adequate gaming system but be mindful that AMD is a lap behind Intel in terms of performance for straight out calculations, every 2 cores = 1 Intel i7 core, so this is essentially a 4 core i5 or 3 core last generation i7 overall.

So why give this 7/10? As usual it comes down to price/performance ratio. If you absolutely need the best system regardless of cost, Intel is your only avenue to success in the PC desktop world, but in a real-world scenario for an every day user or budget conscious gamer, AMD has an overall better ecosystem for delivering decent performance without breaking the bank. I simply hope AMD will start to complete with Intel at the high end in the near future: Before Intel was challenged by AMD, the cost of Intel processors was prohibitive to say the least, as things are now again at the premium level. Intel simply can’t be expected to price components adequately without competition, which is my personal reason I continue to buy AMD despite my desire to build a top of the line gaming system. The 3.3GHz cores keep single threaded apps provided with more than enough juice to be responsive under heavy workloads, thankfully. (Ed: I have no idea why I was so negative about the performance of this system at the time, I suspect my frustrations in general bled through to this review. This system has turned out to be quite the unit.)

Stability is a large factor in any computer, and difficult to achieve with a self assembled system, but this combination of motherboard and processor was fantastic.This alone makes me want to give this 7 or 8 out of 10. I have not had a blue screen except when testing overclocking so if you stay at stock speeds you will be pleasantly surprised. Usually a system like this with so many different generations of components becomes unstable quickly but not with this board. Gigabyte deserve a standing ovation for the GA-990FXA-UD3 .

One more thing to mention, this motherboard comes with a feature that charges USB cabled devices up to twice as fast, thanks to a tripling of the total overall charge delivered to a connected device on these ports. Unfortunately, a Galaxy Tab or an iPad will not benefit since they have proprietary components needed in between the USB plug and the mains, in the wall-wart. However, my other USB 2.0 players such as the Sansa Fuze and View charged much more quickly and my Android cellphones see an improvement as well, just make sure you have insurance on your phones since all devices manufactured before this new USB standard came out were not designed with this in mind, and not all devices will benefit from the 2x to 3x charge for the same reason because they will retard the extra current down to .5A. High end parts such as the Sansa devices have performed well and the batteries top up much better than on the standard USB 2.0 ports as will most devices that comes with a wall adapter. Please remember to unplug your devices once charged, my Fuze became quite warm after a day or so of exposure to the additional current, but no damage done… probably… and the USB 3.0 ports are nice as well by themselves… 😉

In summation, this is worth the $350 but just so, will deliver a system good for another year or two, and has some nifty bells and whistles via the USB triple power option. If you want to be spoiled rotten for performance,however, consider an 8 core AMD or 6 core Intel. This motherboard is fantastic, so this combination of processor and motherboard is fair and worth the money. I hope this has helped some of you make a decision to buy this motherboard, I have nothing but praise for it so far. Put a decent processor and RAM in it and you will be very happy, as I am.

I will post a review of this system with benchmarks when I buy my 7xxx AMD video card and possibly an SSD in early January 2012. Until then, happy trails.

(Ed: I would have saved myself much pain if I would have purchased my 7770 long before I did. The Asus 4870 Dark Knight was simply too out of date to really pump pixels at the level it was capable of. I did not find this out until I actually put a new card in.)