Processor and Motherboard
CPU: AMD Phenom 9850 Black Edition
For processing duties AMD sent over their Phenom 9850 Black Edition CPU.
Clocked at 2.5GHz and featuring four processing cores, the Phenom 9850 Black is one of AMD’s fastest processors. The 9850 has 2MB L2 cache (4x512KB) and 2MB of L3 cache, and with its unlocked clock multiplier, enthusiasts can OC the CPU with whatever clock multiplier they wish. This gives you the flexibility to OC the CPU while keeping the rest of the system components at stock speeds, or if you’d like you can OC the CPU and its underlying components.
One additional tweak AMD has integrated into the 9850 and 9950 is a 2.0GHz memory controller (4.0GHz effective) with a full duplex (2.0GHz x 2) HyperTransport 3 link. Previous Phenom CPUs featured a 1.8GHz memory controller.
Of course, as the “50” suffix at the end of the 9950 model number denotes, the 9950 is based on AMD’s TLB errata free B3 stepping.
Motherboard: ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe WiFi
Based on AMD’s 790FX chipset, the ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe WiFi is ASUS’s high-end CrossFire offering. The motherboard sports quad graphics slots, support for the latest 140W Phenom processors, and dual-channel DDR2-1066 memory. ASUS also ships the motherboard with their Mempipe memory cooling. Mempipe, short for memory heatpipe, consists of a pair of coolers which can be attached to your system memory for additional cooling.
The coolers are made from copper and feature heatpipes for additional performance. The Mempipe adapter fits directly above the heatpipe cooler that rests on the chipset North Bridge, all you’ll need is a small Philips screwdriver to mount the Mempipe module to the motherboard. Once mounted, you can then adjust the Mempipe module to fit your specific memory modules.
Mempipe is compatible with single and double-sided memory, as well as memory modules with or without heat spreaders. The width of the Mempipe modules is completely adjustable so you can fit it with practically any memory module.
The only downside to Mempipe is that ASUS only provides enough Mempipe modules to cool two memory modules. With RAM prices so low, and Vista really needing 4GB of memory for optimal performance, a lot of enthusiasts are running four 1GB memory modules nowadays.
For powering the motherboard and its components, ASUS uses all-solid conductive polymer capacitors and an 8-phase power design, which is responsible for delivering power to the CPU, while an additional 2 power phases deliver power to the memory and HyperTransport controller. ASUS refers to this as their 8+2 phase power design.
The M3A32-MVP Deluxe also has a built-in 802.11g wireless networking controller. ASUS is the first manufacturer to integrate built-in wireless on all of their high-end motherboards.