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AMD Phenom II X6 1055T & Zalman CNPS 10X Perfora CPU Cooler Review

17 December, 2010 (02:28) | PC Tech Support, Reviews | By: admin

Introduction:

I own a reasonable gaming PC with an AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Socket AM3 processor (overclocked – see review below for more details), 4GB of DDR3 memory 1600Mhz (CL9 – running slightly overclocked), a 1GB Zotac GTX465 graphics card (happily running considerably overclocked) and 2 Standard 1TB 7200RPM hard drives (2TB total) where I can dual boot into either Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows XP Pro SP3. Since I’m more concerned about how well my PC can perform over how well it looks for my budget, my mid-tower case is only reasonable and cost just under £50, it has 2 standard cooling fans at the back and a large fan that’s attached to the side (I importantly still have the full case width available as required for some CPU coolers), it also has a vent on the top to release hot air, but because of this one has to be extra careful not to spill drinks anywhere near it. With this set-up I can run most modern 3D games smoothly at maximum settings on my 1600×900 LCD monitor.

I would now like to review both my AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor and also the Zalman CNPS 10X Perfora CPU cooler which I’ve recently installed to replace my original AMD stock cooler…

The AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Socket AM3 Processor:


A trademark of AMD – all rights reserved.

The AMD Phenom II X6 1055T runs at 2.8Ghz at stock speed, but this increases to 3.3GHz using AMD’s turbo core technology if only 3 or less cores are required for the task or tasks in hand, this processor however is exceptionally good for overclocking, especially if one installs a good quality cooler where one can can easily obtain stable speeds of 3.6Ghz without even increasing the core voltage, but in some cases stable overclocking speeds can be increased even further to speeds as fast as 4.0Ghz with an excellent cooler. There’s also very good power saving features included as standard with all the AMD Phenom II 6 core processor range where the processor dynamically sets it’s clock speed in real time depending on demand, this makes the processor run very slow and cool when idle using a lot less power, but it reacts very quickly if a program suddenly needs a lot of processing power. For maximum performance however I turn off these power saving features.

There is in fact 2 different types of AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processors, although they both give equal performance there are other minor differences. The first runs cooler, but uses a maximum of 125 Watts of power with a maximum safe working temperature of 62 Deg C, while the other will run warmer on just 95 Watts of power with a maximum safe working temperature of 71 Dec C. The 1055T model was the slower of two six core processors that AMD initially released back in April 2010, the faster processor was the Phenom X6 1090T which runs 0.4Ghz faster at 3.2Ghz at stock speed, but this increases to 3.6GHz using AMD’s turbo core technology if only 3 or less cores are required for the task or tasks in hand. If nothing but the fastest will do, then the newer 1100T model pushes it’s clock speed every so slightly faster still by 0.1Ghz to 3.3Ghz at stock speed and 3.7Ghz using AMD’s turbo core technology. Other newer models are the 1035T which is the slowest in the Phenom II X6 range, the 1065T and the 1075T with speeds of 2.6Ghz (3.0Ghz turbo), 2.9Ghz (3.3Ghz Turbo) and 3.0Ghz (3.4Ghz turbo) respectively. The 1075T comes as a regular model and as a “black edition” model for a slightly higher cost, while the 1090T and 1100T only come as a “black edition” model. AMD’s black edition models come with the added advantage of an unlocked multiplier which makes overclocking easier. One can still overlclock quite well without this extra feature, but with the multiplier unlocked one can simply modify the processor clock speed by altering the multiplier without effecting the FSB speed (Front Side Bus). If you own a black edition model, you’re more likely to be-able to tweak your overclock profile closer to the maximum speed that you’re hardware can support to get every last bit of power that your hardware is capable of, but there’s no advantage to owning a black edition processor if you have no plans to overclock at all.

AMD boast about their new turbo core technology where their 6 core processors run around 0.4GHz faster when 3 or less cores are required for the current task in hand (this speed difference can be altered when overclocking with a separate multiplier for turbo core mode or it can even be disabled completely). In my opinion however it doesn’t work very efficiently when running Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista or 7). Even when almost idle the turbo core mode often only occasionally kicks in for just a few seconds every now and again before switching back to the standard speed. When running applications, turbo core is rarely used even if the chosen application only uses 3 cores or less as standard background Windows tasks keep pushing the processor over 3 cores, even if most cores are almost idle most of the time, this isn’t enough to make the processor swap over to turbo core mode, so in my opinion AMD’s turbo core technology isn’t really utilised properly most of the time when running Windows and I’ve tested this on various versions of Windows with different anti-virus software installed. Many people choose to disable the turbo core technology feature completely for a maximum consistent speed when overclocking.

There’s a minor defect where the individual core temperatures on Phenom II X6 processors are reported considerably lower than they really are. Because of this one should always measure the main CPU temperature. This defect is in my opinion only a minor inconvenience that won’t effect most people at all as long as they are aware of the problem.

Intel I7 Vs AMD Phenom II X6 Processors: Top of the range Intel I7 processors still provide unrivalled performance at the time of writing over anything AMD have produced for home gaming, but the AMD Phenom II X6 range are still very powerful indeed and are priced at a fraction of the cost meaning they are much better value for money. In fact pound for pound, one gets a lot more performance for your money than with Intel’s expensive I7 range, but if money is no object or one simply must have the very best, then save up a lot more money for one of the fastest Intel I7 processors instead. Another advantage of Intel I7’s processors is they support triple channel DDR3 memory where up to 3 memory modules can be accessed at the same time at full speed, but AMD Phenom II processors only support dual channel DDR3 memory where only 2 memory modules can be accessed at the time same which will sometimes decrease performance. This is why DDR3 memory modules are usually sold in sets of 3 for Intel processors and in sets of 2 for AMD processors for maximum performance. If you are thinking of possibly running more than one graphics card together (multiple GPUs) using either Ati Crossfire or Nvidia SLI technology, then choosing whether to go for an AMD or Intel processor is particularly important. Most multi PCI-Express motherboards with an AMD chipset only support ATI Crossfire technology which means it can only support multiple Ati graphics cards, this isn’t really surprising considering that ATI is now part of AMD. Similarly most multi PCI-Express motherboards with an Intel chipset only support Nvidia SLI technology which means it can only support multiple Nvidia graphics cards. There are however some exceptions to this rule and there’s even a few more expensive motherboards that now support both Ati Crossfire and Nvidia SLI technologies. All modern motherboards however will always support a single ATI or Nvidia GPU.

Unfortunately all AMD Phenom II X6 processors including the 1055T model come with a standard stock heat-sink that is very small for a such a powerful processor and because of this the CPU fan has to do a lot more work to compensate. The standard stock fan can run at speeds as high as 7000RPM when the processor gets hot and just over 3000RPM even when idle. Even 3000RPM is faster than most CPU fans run at on maximum, so when the processor is pushed and the fan increases to speeds of over 6000RPM it can sound almost like a small helicopter is taking off inside your case. Saying this however it was possible to overclock my AMD Phenom II X6 1055T model (125 Watt) to speeds of 3.4Ghz even on stock and there was still a small amount of leeway to push it a bit further without hitting temperatures too close to the maximum when heat soak tested using an application called BurnInTest. BurnInTest will heat up the processor to the maximum that any software possibly could, this is normally warmer than the processor will ever be pushed in everyday use even when 3D gaming, so if it passes this test, it will work with everything. Incidentally running overclocked at 3.4Ghz using a faster CPU fan profile, my processor heated up to a maximum of 56 Deg C using the stock cooler which is still 6 Deg C lower than the maximum working recommended temperature (I wouldn’t personally risk pushing it any more than this). If your room isn’t air conditioned, please remember to allow a good few degrees off the maximum temperature when overclocking, unless you’re running the test during a hot Summer’s day (a lot or people forget to allow for seasonal temperature variations and they later experience processor overheating during the Summer months).

My original AMD Phenom II X6 CPU fan started running slower than usual after just 2 months and it packed up a lot more severely about a month later when I found my processor suddenly overheating before my motherboard performed an emergency power off. Okay, I was overclocking, but just 3 months total use before a serious failure certainly doesn’t say too much for this stock cooler and I suspect that the excessive high fan speeds it needs to maintain dramatically reduces it’s life span, although it’s also possible that my CPU fan was just faulty and that problems like this are rare. I have now achieved much better temperatures than ever before by simply using a better CPU cooler than the one supplied as standard and it didn’t cost me a fortune either, please see below for full details…

Zalman CNPS 10X Performa CPU Cooler Review:


It’s quite large with dimensions of 132(L) x 100(W) x 152(H)mm!

The Zalman CNPS10X Performa CPU cooler is a universal replacement air cooler for both Intel and AMD processors with all modern socket types. The price is less than £30 (UK – on-line average) which makes it one of Zalman’s more budget coolers even though this certainly doesn’t effect it’s quality and performance.

Advantages:

1…Most importantly, it’s a surprisingly efficient cooler, in fact I’m now running on average around 10 Degrees cooler than with the stock cooler on my AMD Phenom X6 1055T, this has given me a lot more room for overclocking:

While intermediately overclocked at 3.45Ghz with all power saving features turned off, I still have masses of headroom left to overlclock much more and I would expect to be able to push speeds up to a 4Ghz limit. Unfortunately the more one overclocks, the greater the risk of problems while potentially reducing processor life, I therefore don’t recommend overclocking to the limit. While overclocked to 3.45Ghz and when idle my processor runs at around 30 Deg C and when heat soak tested it only reaches a maximum of 45 Deg C which leaves another 17 Deg C before it hits the 62 Deg C maximum reliable working temperature that is recommended by AMD. My room is heated to 20 Deg C and my ambient motherboard temperature is around 32 Deg C when idle. I have set-up a custom CPU fan profile which has increased it’s speed slightly, but I can still barely hear it even when my CPU is pushed.

2…A budget price of less of around £30 in the UK making it good value for money.

3…The large heat-sink only requires a low RPM fan that’s very quiet even when pushed to it’s limit.

4…No risk of leakage and minimum maintenance unlike many water cooling systems (self contained water cooling systems are better – please see the summary below for more details).

5…The option to add an additional fan to opposite side of the heat-sink for even more efficient cooling.

6…Universally fits all modern processor sockets including AM3 (AMD Phenom II processors).

Disadvantages:

1…Can be awkward to fit, especially if your case doesn’t have open access underneath the processor, plus the instructions supplied are quite poor. (If you’re in any doubt about fitting, please seek professional help as incorrect or poor fitting could result in irreversible hardware damage).

2…Big and bulky, taking up a lot more space than any stock CPU cooler (you need to ensure your case is of sufficient size – a standard mid-tower is usually enough as long as the width available isn’t reduced by a side fan).

3…Not as efficient as a good water cooling system (please see the summary below for a recommend water cooling solution).

4…Even though it only costs around £30 (UK price), it still costs £30 more than the supplied stock cooler which is then left to waste.

Summary:

For the sake of around £30 (UK price), I thoroughly recommend against using the relatively inefficient, very noisy and potentially unreliably stock cooler when purchasing any AMD Phenom II X6 processor. The Zalman CNPS 10X Performa CPU Cooler is one of many solutions that offers more efficient and quieter cooling at a budget price, but I recommend always going for a quality name like Zalman or Corsair. A better cooler can also increase the lifespan of your processor and can optionally be used for considerably faster overclocking. There are off-course numerous other alternatives available including more expensive air cooling systems that can provide even better performance, but I recommend people read unbiased reviews as their efficiency can vary greatly and some poorer solutions aren’t much better than using the stock cooler.

If you want even better cooling, then I recommend a self contained water cooling system like the The Corsair Hydro Series™ H50 CPU Cooler or even better The Corsair Hydro Series™ H70. Air cooling can never match the efficiency of a good liquid cooling solution, but up until now liquid cooling systems have had the big disadvantage of being prone to possible leakage unless they’re regularly maintained and installed carefully, obviously one doesn’t want the slightest chance of even a drop of water or coolant hitting the motherboard for potentially devastating results. In the past liquid cooling systems have required maintenance and servicing which includes checking for worn seals on regular intervals, they’ve also been quite expensive and difficult to install. Good quality self contained water cooling solutions however offer almost as much performance, but they are much safer and maintenance free.

For more details on the Zalman CNPS 10X Perfora CPU Cooler, please click here.

Legal Disclaimer:

Modifying or overclocking your PC is performed entirely at your own risk and we generally do NOT recommend it. Overclocking your processor can void your manufacturer’s warranty. It could also reduce the lifespan of your processor and/or cooling fan or in the worst case scenario it could even cause permanent damage to your hardware. Only overclock if you are suitably well qualified and are clear about the potential risks involved, if in any doubt DON’T attempt to overclock.

Installing a CPU and/or a CPU cooler can be a tricky process unless you are suitably qualified and trained. Incorrect and/or poor installation has the potential to cause permanent hardware damage to the processor and/or the motherboard, please be warned and if in any doubt, seek professional assistance.

Although we have tried to make this article as accurate as possible, we cannot be held responsible for any mistakes made. We also cannot be held responsible for any loss, damage or any adverse outcome from reading or taking advise of this article. Some of the article may include personal opinions that cannot be declared as definite fact. Before making a large purchase, we always recommend that people take professional advice.

As far as to my knowledge the images used on this article are free to use although the first image is trademark of AMD, all rights reserved. If however you know otherwise, please contact us immediately and I will remove them straight away.

This article and any comments are without prejudice to AMD, Intel, ATI, Nvidia, Zalman, Corsair or any other organisation, person or persons. My full legal disclaimer also applies to this article, any comments and to everything else printed on this website.



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Comment from admin
Time June 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm Twitter

AMD Bulldozer 8 Core Processors, Here We Come:

The AMD 1055T 6 core processor, the faster 1090T and even the slightly faster still 1100T processor is now cheaper than ever. This is because the new AMD Bulldozer range of processors are due to be released very soon at the time of writing. They are said to beat even the Intel Sandy Bridge processors (i7) in terms of performance with the flag ship processor having 8 cores with 6 and 4 core models also being released. Unfortunately the June 2011 release date has been delayed due to teething problems and it could be a few more months before release, even though a new range of 990FX chipset motherboards have already been released to support the new AM3+ chipset. Some better quality 800 series chipset AM3 motherboards will support the new Bulldozer AM3+ range of processors with a flash bios update, but your motherboard will need high quality components to cope with the extra stress the new processors puts on the motherboard, so that’s why only a handful of slightly older motherboards are officially supported. In line with AMD’s usual good value policy, the prices are expected to be very competitive and much cheaper than the current Intel i7 processors despite promising to be more powerful. I expect Intel to reduce their prices of their existing processor and they will most likely respond with an even more powerful processor that will probably cost at least twice, if not three times the price of the AMD equivalent processor.

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