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Sharky Extreme : CPU Reviews & Articles February 19, 2012
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CPU Reviews & Articles

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Back in Black: Phenom 9600 Black Edition Review

By Vince Freeman :  February 8, 2008

Introduction

The initial Phenom 9500 and 9600 release did not go off without some difficulties, and although the new quad core AMD line provided an excellent mainstream value, there was no answer to the high-end Core 2 models. Even the higher-speed Phenom 9900 didn't clear up all the issues, and when you add in a highly publicized TLB errata and the lack of any dual or tri-core Phenom models, AMD had some questions to answer. One interesting response was to reward their loyal fans by introducing a new unlocked Phenom 9600 Black Edition.

The Phenom 9600 Black Edition

The "Black Edition" format was first popularized with the 3.2 GHz Athlon 64 X2 6400+, and then later used for a mainstream Athlon 64 X2 5000+. These processors are fully unlocked and allow full CPU clock adjustment for serious overclocking. Initially, this was a way of AMD competing with Intel's Extreme Edition processors, and replacing the Athlon 64 FX line, but with the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Black Edition, it quickly morphed into a strategy to attract mainstream overclockers.

The Phenom 9600 Black Edition features an unlocked clock multiplier, but in all other ways, it is a standard 65nm Phenom 9600 AM2+ processor. This includes a default 2.3 GHz clock speed, a 95W TDP, and a true quad core architecture, with each of the four individual cores sporting 64K + 64K of L1 instruction/data cache (512KB total L1 per processor) and 512KB of L2 cache (2MB total L2 cache). The Phenom 9600 Black Edition also sports 2MB of integrated L3 cache that is shared between each of the four cores.

Like other Phenom models, it offers a dual-channel/128-bit DDR2 memory controller, at a fixed clock of up to DDR2-1066, and includes enhanced Cool'n'Quiet support for improved power savings. The transistor count of 450 million and a die size of 285 mm2 remain consistent, and the Phenom 9600 Black Edition is backward-compatible with AM2 platforms. And yes, the TLB erratum is also present and accounted for, as the Phenom 9600 Black Edition sports the current B2 core. The only strange thing about the Phenom 9600 Black Edition is that contrary to rumors, it appears to include a bundled heatsink-fan.

Here is a small chart that should properly differentiate the various Phenom models, their clock speeds and pricing:

Processor Core Clock HT Speed TDP Retail Price
Phenom 9500 2.2 GHz 1.8 GHz 95W $200
Phenom 9600 2.3 GHz 1.8 GHz 95W $225
Phenom 9600 Black Edition 2.3 GHz 1.8 GHz 95W $240
Phenom 9700 2.4 GHz 2.0 GHz 125W sub-$300
Phenom 9900 2.6 GHz 2.0 GHz 140W sub-$350


  • Page 1

    The Phenom 9600 Black Edition

    Page 2

    Overclocking Results & Disabling the TLB Fix

    Page 3

    AM2 Upgrade Testing, Value and Conclusion