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K6-III+: Super-7 to the Limit
By Jasin Robertson
Monday, April 23, 2001 7:51 AM EDT

Benchmarks

System Configuration

  • AMD K6-III+@550,600,633 and 660MHz
  • ASUS P5A-B rev. 1.04
  • 128 MB PC-133 CAS-2 Micron Ram
  • Elsa Gladiac MX
  • SoundBlaster PCI
  • Realtek 10/100 NIC
Drivers
  • ALi AGP Driver Version 1.73
  • NVIDIA reference driver 11.01
I was originally going to continue the tradition of benchmarks found in previous K6-X articles and use my old benchmark set, but times have changed and 32 bit color has become standard. All benchmarks have been performed at 1024x768x32bpp with every possible effect enabled quality set to its highest level. The following benchmarks will be used.

  1. Quake-III Arena 1.17 Demo1
  2. 3DMark 2001 Default benchmark
  3. Sandra 2001se Memory Benchmark
Quake 3 Demo1
CPUFrame Rate
K6-III+ 550 MHz42.5
K6-III+ 600 MHz48.2
K6-III+ 633 MHz51.6
K6-III+ 660 MHz53.5

As you can see, performance scales in regular fashion, with the most significant boost seen when overclocking from 550 MHz to 600 MHz, an easily obtainable target for overclockers. At the top level, with our 550 MHz K6-III+ overclocked a full 110 MHz, the frame rate is boosted by just over 10 FPS.

3DMark 2001
CPU3DMarks
K6-III 550 MHz1296
K6-III 600 MHz1483
K6-III 633 MHz1563
K6-III 660 MHz1682

The 3DMark 2001 results display characteristics similar to those of Quake 3, and indeed, these two are very similar in many regards. Moving to 600 MHz, we again see the largest increase, at around 14%. Once again, the total overclock to 660 MHz yields a respectable boost in performance.

SANDRA 2001
CPUInt/FP Bandwidth (MB/s)
K6-III 550 MHz204/238
K6-III 600 MHz221/242
K6-III 633 MHz237/249
K6-III 660 MHz243/252

All tests ran as expected except for Sandra, as you may notice, the memory scores seem inconsistent with the rest of the benchmarks. I have reason to believe that the ALi V chipset is to blame, as it doesn't seem to allow for higher memory throughput beyond around the 250 MB/s mark.

Overclocking the K6-III+

Though the K6-III+ is a very capable overclocker, I would not expect speeds in excess of 630MHz unless you plan on going well beyond spec and raising the Vcore to 2.7-2.8V, thereby voiding your warranty. I mainly wanted to show what the K6-III+ is capable of at these speeds and I do not wish to mislead anyone into believing that every K6-III+550MHz CPU will reach such speeds. I will, however, go as far as to say that the K6-III+ will easily hit 600MHz with relatively standard cooling at stock voltages. As for cooling, with an Alpha heatsink and a 38 CFM Delta fan, my temperatures never exceeded 41C at any clockspeed. In fact, I replaced the Alpha with a standard 40x40x40 HSF and everything still ran without a hitch at 550 MHz and 600 MHz. I would also like to add that I have tested three K6-III+/450s and all of them have reached 600MHz stable with standard cooling at 2.2V.

The SS7 Ultimate Video Card

The Geforce MX may very well be the ultimate SS7 video card. The combination of price, performance and compatibility makes the MX my top choice. I realize that I have stated in previous articles to stay clear of the GeForce or any flavor of such, but the MX is an exception due to the lower operating voltage, updated drivers, and Acer Labs AGP driver Ver.1.73. I was able to fully optimize the system without making any sacrifices in performance in order to compensate for stability. I can no longer recommend 3DFX products for the SS7 platform unless you plan on upgrading within the next six months before games catch up with driver support (Tribes 2 is already doing it) . The ATI Radeon VE and LE boards also make excellent choices as alternatives to the MX, and both are extremely competitive in terms of pricing.

Conclusion

Well, it's been a long run for Socket-7, but this time I can assure you without a shadow of a doubt: this is the end. Sure, we will see a K6-III+/600 floating around here and there, but I doubt it will overclock any better than a 550. Socket-7 is really at the end of its life. For the record, the Socket-7 platform scaled over 600% in raw clock speed, introduced the Sub-$1,000 PC, introduced MMX and 3DNow! technology, made affordable notebook computers a reality, and opened the doors to more CPU options from companies like AMD, RISE, IDT and Cyrix. I would say it's been a damn good run.

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