Amd phenom x4 9850: AMD Phenom X4 9850 (95W) Specs

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Hardware Review

AMD Phenom X4 9850

AMD continues to build on their popular
«Phenom» range of CPU’s with their latest endeavor entitled the Phenom
X4 9850 that runs at a speedy 2.5Ghz with 65nm Silicon On Insulator
Process Technology, 125W, 2.0Ghz Memory Controller and also allows for
easy overlocking by increasing the multiplier. How’s that for an
improvement over the Phenom 9600 Black Edition?

AMD have also addressed
the issues they had with their first Phenom processors, ensuring that
their latest range is able to handle a wide variety of issues from
installation to software and performance. The processor also features
priority technology from AMD which include next-generation
HyperTransport 3.0 and the energy efficient Cool’n’Quiet 2.0 technology
ensuring for a safer and powerful experience. Our test machine
included 4GB Corsair RAM, ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics card, 200GB
Hard Drive and the latest ASUS motherboard with Windows Vista 64-bit and
the up to date drivers.

Specifications & Features

Model /
Processor Frequency:
AMD Phenom
Processor Model X4 9850 / 2.5GHz
L1 Cache
64K of L1
instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core (512KB total L1
per processor)
L2 Cache
512KB of L2 data
cache per core (2MB total L2 per processor)
L3 Cache
Controller Type:
Integrated 128-bit
wide memory controller, capable of being configured for dual
64-bit channels for simultaneous read/writes
Controller Frequency:
Up to 2. 0GHz with
Dual Dynamic Power Management
Types of
Support for
unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz)

HyperTransport 3.0:
One 16-bit/16-bit
link @ up to 4000MHz full duplex
Processor Bandwidth:
Up to 31.5 GB/s
Packaging: Socket AM2+ 940-pin
organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA) (backward compatible
with Socket AM2)
AMD’s Fab 36 wafer
fabrication facilities in Dresden, Germany
65nm (.065-micron)
Silicon on Insulator (SOI)
Transistor count:
approx. 450 million
Die Size:
285 mm2 (65nm)
1.1-1.25 Volts
Max Ambient
Case Temp:
70 degrees Celsius
Max TDP: 125 Watts
Memory Controller Note:
Future 45nm
processors versions are planned to include support for DDR3


As we’ve previously mentioned in other
reviews, benchmarks can be a tricky beast and although they mimic
real-world applications, they can be tweaked which makes it very
difficult to accurately measure and every computer setup is different. Even so, it’s a great tool to test against other CPU’s
and to see where things stand in the real world. We
used Sisoft Sandra XII to give us an overall perspective of the CPU
compared to its older brother the 9600 and one of Intel’s top line of
CPU’s, the QX9770.

Sisoft Sandra XII — CPU  Test


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


Sisoft Sandra XII — Multimedia 


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


As you can see from the results, the Phenom
9850 performed quite well when compared to Intel’s QX9770 with the
factor of backward compatibility and price which should also be taken
into account. We also tested the AMD Phenom 9850 with Windows Media Encoder
version 9.0 which performed exceptionally well when compared to Intel’s
QX9770 as this is using the raw grunt of the system to number crunch.

Windows Media Encoder version 9.0
(lower numbers are better)


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


Graphical and Gaming Capabilities

Futuremark’s 3DMark06 is considered the
definitive bench marking program which tests a wide range of
capabilities of the CPU and system and there was a significant
improvement over the Phenom 9600 with the Phenom 9850 still coming
second to the QX9770. Needless to say, the Phenom with the correct setup
is still a formidable foe in the graphical department.

3DMark 06 — Overall Score


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


What better way to test the power of the
CPU than with some of the greatest first person shooter games available
on the market that truly pushes the gaming world with its exceptional
graphics and amazing real-world likeness. Call of Duty by Activision is
easily one of the most impressive titles on the market which was
released late last year with some amazing attention to detail and is as
close as most of us will get to being in an actual war.

Call of Duty


Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


As you can see from the
results of Call of Duty, between the Intel QX9650 and AMD Phenom 9850,
the difference is minimal and is quite a noticeable improvement over our
favourite CPU, the AMD Phenom 9600 due to its price range and ability to
use older existing motherboards.

Crysis (800×600
Low Detail)

Crysis is one of the
most impressive and powerful first person shooter games on the market
and I have not yet seen a processor or system that can run this game
with full detail, even though many have tried. It’s the most graphically
power hungry title on the market at the moment with realistic gaming
environment and real-world physics. The AMD Phenom 9850 performed
well when compared to the more powerful and more expensive
Intel CPU’s and at the end of the day, the title was still quite
playable, the only downside is that the resolution needed to play is

Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650

AMD Phenom 9850

AMD Phenom 9600


Although AMD still have a long
way to go if they are to catch up to the high end Intel CPU’s, they are
a great midrange processor that offers Quad Core performance which is
great for those with budgets but still want something powerful. Match that with the ability to overclock
(thanks for AMD’s Overdrive software) and gamers on a budget can still play titles such as Crysis
and Call of Duty.


The new AMD Phenom X4
9850 goes beyond the original Phenom series, offering improved
performance and best of all, the ability to easily upgrade for existing
users of the AMD Socket AM2 platform. Although not as powerful as some
of the new Intel CPU’s on the market, it still offers decent and sturdy
performance at a fraction of the cost. With quad cores, B3 Silicon
Revision, 125W of Max TDP, this processer is a great option for the
mid-range computer users who still want to use the latest software and
play the latest games. Another impressive CPU from AMD!

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition Review


Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £155.09

It’s fair to say the first batch of AMDs Phenom CPUs were a bit underwhelming. Though they represented decent value for money, due to AMDs cut-throat pricing, and brought some welcome competition to Intel on the quad-core front, the simple fact of the matter was performance wasn’t good enough for us to recommend a Phenom over any of Intel’s current crop of quad-core CPUs.

Now there can be all manner of reasons why a CPU may not perform as expected, including fundamentally bad design, an inability to run at high enough clock speeds, or thermal limitations, and unfortunately for AMD, it seemed that all but the latter of these problems were plaguing the first Phenoms.

First there was the news of an erratum in the Translation Lookaside Buffer (TLB) that represented a fundamental problem with the design. It wasn’t a big issue for most people as the error only threw up problems in the rarest of circumstances – we ran all our tests on the 9600 Black Edition with the erratum unfixed and encountered no problems. However, if you didn’t want to run that risk, the software or BIOS fixes that were released caused performance to drop by an average of 10 percent. Whichever option you choose though, it wasn’t exactly a good start to the launch.

The other big problem was the fact the early Phenoms simply couldn’t run at high enough frequencies. While Intel is happily hitting 4GHz with some of its CPUs, we couldn’t get our top of the range 9600 Black Edition to run at over 2.6GHz. Regardless of how superior (or not) the Phenom architecture may be, having such a huge disparity in raw clock speed inevitably impacts on performance.

So, with such a dismal first outing, it was imperative AMD could quickly turn around a tweaked design that fixed some of these fundamental problems. Otherwise any hope of remaining competitive with Intel for the next six months would’ve evaporated.

Well, credit where credit’s due, that’s exactly what the boys in green have managed to do and a couple of weeks ago new TLB error-free Phenoms started hitting shop shelves. These new CPUs basically have a hardware workaround for the TLB problem that, unlike the software or BIOS workarounds, has minimal impact on performance. Indeed, AMD expects performance of the new chips to be the same clock-for-clock as the previous Phenoms when run without the fixes.

Labelled the ’50 series’, all the new Phenoms will carry clearly distinguishable model numbers from the previous series of Phenoms. Specifically, where old versions had numbering of the format 9×00, the new chips will be of the form 9×50. Also, coinciding with this rerelease, AMD has thankfully decided to reinstate the ‘X’ in its model names so, once again, tri-core chips will be X3 and quad-core X4. We’re really glad to see the return of this nomenclature – we never understood why AMD dropped it in the first place – as we feel it’s infinitely clearer than just a model number alone.

AMD has understandably decided to completely switch production from the old B2 stepping (the previous 9×00 version) to the new B3 stepping (new 9×50 version) and, because of this, the new CPUs are just as competitively priced as the outgoing ones. Indeed, the 9850 Black Edition we’re looking at today is exactly the same price as the slower 9600 Black Edition it is replacing.

To confirm, then the Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition is AMD’s latest flagship CPU. It runs at 2.5GHz and is manufactured using AMD’s 65nm Silicon on Insulator technology, which gives it a nominal TDP of 125W. The big trick up its sleeve, though, is its unlocked CPU/FSB multiplier that gives it a huge amount of potential for great overclocking. It also has one new feature that is exclusive to the 9850, which is a faster memory controller. All the other Phenoms, old and new, have memory controllers running at 1.8GHz whereas the 9850 memory controller trundles along at 2GHz.

For testing we’ve dropped comparisons to any dual core CPUs as we’ve already seen how these compare. Instead we’ve pitted the 9850 against Intel’s nearest price competitor the Q6600 (which is well known to overclock to 3GHz and above) and the fastest consumer quad-core CPU currently available, the QX9770. Now you could argue that comparing the QX9770, which costs nearly £600, to the 9850 is a bit unfair but, remember, the 9850 is currently AMD’s best so it’s only fair to compare it to Intel’s best.

As always we tried to create as even a playing field as possible so the only limiting factor for each setup is the CPU itself. Both test systems used western Digital Raptor 150GB hard drives and nVidia 8800 GTS 640 graphics cards. However, we used DDR2 memory with the AMD CPUs, while the Intel chips were accompanied by DDR3 and of course the two motherboards for each platform were also different.

”’Test Setup”’

”’Common Components:”’

* nVidia 8800 GTS 640MB

* 150GB Western Digital Raptor

* Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit

”’Intel Specific Components:”’

* 2GB Corsair TWIN3X2048-1333C9 DDR3

* Asus P5E3

”’AMD Specific Components:”’

* 2GB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-8500C5DF DDR2

* MSI K9A2 Platinum

Testing started with our usual quartet of Photoshop batch processing, VirtualDub video encoding, WinRAR file compression, and LAME mp3 encoding and we also ran the single core test in Cinebench. These tests are all single-threaded versions of the programs so they are only using one core at a time, which gives a good idea of raw clock-for clock performance of the CPUs.

Next we tested the multithreaded versions of WinRAR and LAME and also ran the multi-core test in Cinebench to see how effectively the CPUs distribute the computing load across multiple cores. Finally, we did a spot of game testing using Counter-Strike: Source, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, and Crysis. Each test was repeated until a consistent score was achieved so the results we’re showing are truly representative of the performance our test beds gave under our tests.

Once the first round of testing was over we set about overclocking the 9850 to see how much head room that unlocked multiplier really gives you.

We started by upping the multiplier and very quickly found we could get to 15x, which gave us an overall clock speed of 3.0GHz with no extra voltage whatsoever – not a bad start! Next we tried upping the HTT with this multiplier setting and very rapidly got nowhere, regardless of how much we pushed the voltages up. So, we started scaling back the multiplier and simultaneously trying to up the HTT until we finally had some success with the default 12.5x multiplier and 210MHz HTT, which was still a long way from our initial successes. So for our testing we settled on the 15x multiplier with everything else kept the same. Still, this is a massive improvement on the overclocking results we got with the first batch of Phenoms.

There is, unfortunately, one downside to all this. Reading around it appears reaching such lofty heights with quite such ease is not a common occurance and, although 3GHz is achievable you’ll have to bump up the voltages to get there. Without experimenting with overvolting, 2.8GHz is a more likely achievement. We’d certainly be interested to hear what results you get, though.

”’CPUs Tested”’

* AMD Phenom 9850 Black Edition @ 2.5GHz (12.5 x 200MHz)

* AMD Phenom 9850 Black Edition @ 3.0GHz (15 x 200MHz)

* AMD Phenom 9850 Black Edition @ 2. 3GHz (11.5 x 200MHz)

* AMD Phenom 9600 Black Edition @ 2.5GHz (12.5 x 200MHz)

* Intel Core 2 Quad QX9770 @ 3.2GHz (8 x 400MHz)

* Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz (9 x 266MHz)

Looking at the results, then, what’s clear right from the off is that the 9850 is a solid 10 percent faster than the 9600 when the TLB fix is disabled. Once the fix is enabled on the 9600 its performance drops by an average of another 10 percent right across the board – the appalling WinRAR results not withstanding. More to the point, though, is that on performance the 9850 is pretty close to its biggest rival, the Q6600. It never quite pulls ahead but, apart from Cinebench, it’s consistently within spitting distance.

All in all, then, it’s a close one to call and really it comes down to how successful you are when overclocking – that and personal allegiances. Although we’re aware the Q6600 is a consistent overclocker, the 9850 is multipler unlocked so there’s potential for significantly more headroom, if you’re persistent, or just lucky.


The AMD Phenom X4 9×50 series doesn’t significantly improve performance over the older 9×00 series, at any given clock speed. However, the TLB erratum has been removed and the new CPUs – especially the multiplier unlocked 9850 – seem to overclock more freely than the old chips. All of which combines to make the 9850, in particular, a worthy adversary to the Q6600. In fact, we’d say it’s close enough that deciding between an Intel quad-core and an AMD quad-core is largely down to personal preference at this price point.

Score in detail

  • Value 8

  • Features 8

  • Performance 8

AMD Phenom X4 9850 — Top Affordable Processor / Processors & Memory

3DNews Processors and memory AMD processors AMD Phenom X4 9850 is a top processor…

The most interesting news

Compare AMD Phenom X4 9850 and Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 processors at nominal frequencies and during overclocking. We study the scalability of Phenom X4 9850 depending on the number of cores involved

⇣ Contents

The Phenom X4 9850 processor we’re reviewing today has been at the top of AMD’s top quad-core processor range until recently. He had to give up the honorable first place with the advent of the Phenom X4 9950, but this does not detract from his merits. The difference in the frequency of these two processors is small (2.5 and 2.6 GHz), and taking into account the significantly lower price, the Phenom X4 9850 looks more attractive to a potential buyer.

This is what the hero of our review looks like outwardly.

Below you can see screenshots of the CPU-Z utility with the characteristics of the processor and the test platform.

Before proceeding to the tests, let’s say a few words about the opponent chosen for testing — the quad-core processor Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300. For comparison, we decided to take this particular model, because both the Phenom X4 9850 and the Core 2 Quad Q9300 have the same clock speed of 2.5 GHz. This allows you to directly compare the performance differences associated with their architecture. As you know, AMD Phenom processors have a L3 cache common to all cores. At the same time, quad-core Intel processors do not have a third-level cache, moreover, since they are physically two crystals combined on the same substrate, so the second-level cache is shared only for each pair of cores. Another important difference is that AMD processors have a built-in memory controller, while Intel processors communicate with RAM through the northbridge of the chipset. Which approach provides the best performance, we will also try to find out.

The main characteristics of the processors participating in this test:

Processor Phenom X4 9850 Core 2 Quad Q9300
Technical process, nm 65 45
Core frequency, MHz 2500 2500
Number of cores 4 4
L1 cache, KB 4×64 4×32
L2 cache, KB 4×512 2×3072
L3 cache, KB 2048
Bus frequency, MHz 200 333 (1333 QP)
Factor multiplications 12. 5 7.5
TDP, W 130 95
Price, rub ~ 6000 ~ 8200

Approximate prices are indicated according to for «boxed» processor options.


The ASUS Crosshair II Formula motherboard based on the NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI chipset was used as a test platform for the Phenom X4 9850 processor. Processor Core 2 Quad Q9300 was tested on the ASUS P5QC motherboard based on the Intel P45 chipset. In both cases, we used Corsair CM2X1024-8500C5D RAM running in DDR2-1066 mode and a GeForce 9800GTX video card.

Of course, we also could not leave the topic of overclocking aside. One of the main arguments cited by supporters of Intel products is the impressive overclocking potential of Core processors, which is about 3.5-4 GHz with air cooling (meaning “everyday” overclocking for games and work, and not for the sake of records). Our copy of the Core 2 Quad Q9300 confirmed the general statistics — it was quite capable of operating at a frequency of about 3.7 GHz. Nevertheless, we decided not to get carried away searching for the maximum stable frequency during overclocking, since it strongly depends on a particular processor instance, motherboard capabilities and is unlikely to reflect the potential of a «typical» computer. For convenience, we decided to stop at exactly 3.0 GHz. Since the Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor has a locked multiplier of 7.5, we increased the system bus frequency from 333 MHz to 400 MHz to achieve this frequency. Thanks to such a “round” figure and standard coefficients, the operating mode of the RAM remained the same — DDR2-1066.

As for the Phenom X4 9 processor850, then it has an unlocked multiplier, so there were no problems with its overclocking. The processor confidently earned at a frequency of 3.0 GHz even without raising the VCore voltage. But this was the end of the overclocking — higher frequencies were not submitted to this instance, despite experiments with an increase in VCore. Yes, AMD processors still cannot boast of a special overclocking potential, which often causes disdain for Intel fans. However, not every user “overclocks” their computer, and to assess the scalability of performance with increasing frequency, overclocking to 3.0 GHz will be enough for us.

The set of tests we used is rather meager, but this time we did not set ourselves the task of conducting detailed testing of architectures. In our opinion, it is much more interesting to look at these processors through the eyes of a «simple buyer» who faces a very difficult choice. Let’s see what kind of performance at nominal frequencies and during overclocking will be shown by the «top» AMD processor and the «middle processor» from Intel (which, by the way, is even more expensive).

Let’s start, as usual, with synthetic tests.

These Everest Ultimate tests perform integer calculations. As you can see, the results of the opponents are quite close. In two tests, the Phenom X4 9850 processor has a slight advantage, and in the PhotoWorxx test, the Core 2 Quad Q9300 takes the lead.

FPU tests use floating point units, and here the Intel processor has no equal. The multiple difference in the FPU Julia test is somewhat surprising. Perhaps the version of Everest Ultimate we used is somewhat outdated and does not “understand” the Phenom processors quite correctly.

Tests of the speed of RAM are very controversial. The Core 2 Quad Q9300 shows fairly even results for all types of operations, while the Phenom X4 9850 demonstrates impressive read speeds, but «fails» on writes to memory and copy operations. Interestingly, the increase in the system bus frequency has a very good effect on the performance of the Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor in this test, although the operating mode of the RAM has not changed at all.

The 3DMark’06 CPU benchmarks are renderings of a graphics scene that runs entirely on the CPU. The overall results of both processors practically do not differ from each other, but depend only on the CPU frequency.

Of course, the results of each of the tests obey the same rule and are practically the same for the processors we are considering.

The benchmark built into the WinRar archiver, although it belongs to «synthetic» tests, is already more relevant for the user. As you can see, in multi-threaded mode, the Phenom X4 9 processor850 demonstrates excellent results, which, apparently, entirely depend on the performance of the memory subsystem, since with increasing frequency
no significant changes occur. The Core 2 Quad Q9300 processor, even when overclocked, cannot catch up with its rival, but an increase in the system bus frequency has a very positive effect on its results. In single-threaded mode, the picture changes somewhat — the Core 2 Quad Q9300 is in the lead, while the Phenom X4 9850 is somewhat behind.

The PdnBench utility is built on the basis of the popular PaintNet graphics editor and is a set of filters used in image processing. The test evaluates the execution time of the script, so a lower result is a better result. In this test, the Core 2 Quad Q9300 became the undisputed leader.

And, finally, the most «real» application from our today’s set. Since the goal is to compare processor performance, not video cards, we set the screen resolution in the Crysis processor test to a sufficiently low resolution to neutralize the influence of the video card as much as possible. However, we did not limit ourselves to “weak” graphics modes only, and conducted tests for three standard graphics quality settings — low, medium and high (tests were carried out under WindowsXP). The results obtained were very interesting. With low and medium graphics quality settings, the Core 2 Quad Q9 processor naturally leads300. However, the inclusion of high quality graphics in the game radically changes the picture! Phenom X4 9850 confidently takes the lead. And even during overclocking, despite the increase in the frequency of the Core 2 Quad Q9300 system bus, Phenom X4 9850 does not give up its positions. We dare to assume that this behavior of the results is due to the presence of the third-level cache in the Phenom X4 9850 processor, which is absent in the Core 2 Quad Q9300. The calculation of the scene in the «high» mode is complicated by the large detail and the number of objects for which it is necessary to calculate the «physics» of their behavior. Perhaps, it is in this case that the presence of a third-level cache memory comes in handy. How true our assumptions are, we will study in subsequent articles, since the new Futuremark 3DMark Vantage test suite provides excellent opportunities for this.


Despite the low overclocking potential, the dismissive attitude towards AMD Phenom processors, in our opinion, is hardly justified. And although at the moment they will not be able to set new records with their help, for the average user they can be of considerable interest. AMD Phenom and Intel Core 2 processors in the same price range have about the same level of performance, but AMD Phenom is slightly cheaper.

We deliberately do not provide a summary table of platform costs, since this choice is highly dependent on the tasks facing the user. It is very likely that overclockers will choose Intel, but then it will take a lot of effort to choose the right motherboard that can unleash the full potential of the processor. How much the system as a whole will cost in the end is hard to say. At the same time, AMD Phenom processors with an unlocked multiplier do not impose special requirements on motherboards for stability at “non-standard” frequencies. The only caveat is the high demands on the load of the processor power circuits, since the older AMD Phenoms have a good “appetite” due to the 65-nm process technology. However, the leading motherboard manufacturers have taken care of this for a long time — just don’t buy a budget «noname».

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Phenom X4 9 processor850 (95W)

Phenom X4 9850 (95W)

  • Interface
  • Core frequency
  • Video memory size
  • Memory type
  • Memory frequency
  • Maximum resolution


AMD started AMD Phenom X4 9850 (95W) sales in October 2008. This is an Agena architecture desktop processor primarily aimed at home systems. It has 4 cores and 4 threads and is manufactured using 65 nm process technology, the maximum frequency is 2500 MHz, the multiplier is locked.

In terms of compatibility, this is an AMD Socket AM2+ processor with a TDP of 95W.

We don’t have any test results for the Phenom X4 9850 (95W).

General information

Information about the type (desktop or laptop) and architecture of Phenom X4 9850 (95W), as well as sales start time and cost at that time.

Place in the performance rating does not participate

Phenom X4 9850 (95W) quantitative parameters such as number of cores and threads, clock speeds, manufacturing process, cache size and multiplier lock state. They indirectly speak about the performance of the processor, but for an accurate assessment, you need to consider the results of the tests.

Streams 4

Compatible with Windows 11


Information on Phenom X4 9850 (95W) compatibility with other computer components. Useful, for example, when choosing the configuration of a future computer or to upgrade an existing one.

Please note that the power consumption of some processors can significantly exceed their nominal TDP even without overclocking. Some may even double their claims if the motherboard allows you to adjust the power settings of the processor.


Benchmark tests

These are the Phenom X4 9850 (95W) non-gaming benchmark performance test results. The overall score is set from 0 to 100, where 100 corresponds to the fastest processor at the moment.

We don’t have any test results for the Phenom X4 9850 (95W).

Other processors

Here we recommend several processors that are more or less similar in performance to the one considered.

Recommended video cards

According to our statistics, these video cards are most often used with Phenom X4 9850 (95W):

GeForce GT


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