Author: Frank Stroupe
- A Closer Look
- Installation & Overclocking
- Testing - Futuremark & Photoshop
- Testing - Gaming
AMD Phenom II X3 720
ASRock M3A785GMH/128M AMD 785G AM3 Motherboard
Kingston DDR3-1600 2GB kit
Asus Matrix GTX 260 video card
Spire TherMax Pro CPU Cooler
NZXT Tempest extended midtower
BFG Tech EX Series 1200 watt PSU
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
The Phenom II AM3 installs just like all AMD processors at least back to the Socket A era, the pins on the CPU are inserted into the openings on the CPU socket. A lever slightly moves the socket to create friction on the pins to lock the CPU in place. Observe the four “keys” on the socket and CPU to properly orient the CPU to the socket.
Prep the CPU by cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth.
Prep the CPU cooler by cleaning the base with isopropyl alcohol and a lint free cloth. Apply thermal compound to the CPU surface via manufacturer’s instructions. If the cooler is of a design that the heatpipes directly touch the CPU heatspreader, you must spread the compound first as the cooler base will not spread the compound properly. I use a credit card.
Install the cooler and memory onto the motherboard. Make sure you plug the cooler fan into the motherboard’s CPU_FAN header.
Install the motherboard into the case. Wire things up, install the video card and any other PCI cards you may be using, and you’re done.
My motherboard offers automatic OC settings by percentage overclock, so I thought that I would try that first. The X3 720 easily accepted a 20% overclock of 3.3gHz. A 25% overclock of 3.5gHz wouldn’t boot. The automatic Vcore was 1.4v, so I left everything else where it was and bumped up the Vcore to 1.425v and was successful. I played around with manually overclocking everything, and ended up overclocking the 720 just over 25% to 3.528mHz. I’m sure I could have gone a little farther, but I had maxed out AMD’s recommended Vcore, and though my temps weren’t bad, I decided to stop there as I probably would want more CPU cooler when benchmarking at a Vcore higher than AMD recommends.