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AM3 CPU Upgrade Question

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  • CPUs
  • Phenom
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November 9, 2011 6:46:35 PM

Hello all,

I'm in the process of upgrading my gaming machine (mostly for Skyrim). I'm trying to choose between 2 AM3 CPU's, the Phenom II X4 965 BE and the Athlon II X4 640. As I'm trying to stay on-budget, I'll have to wait to upgrade beyond my 4GB RAM, but I'll also be upgrading to a GTX 560 Ti 1GB.

Would the Phenom II X4 965 offer a considerable performance increase over the Athlon II X4 640? This machine would be used primarily for games. I know the difference between the two is L3 cache, but I'm not really sure if the Phenom would offer a noticeable increase in performance over the Athlon.

Also, I've never bothered with overclocking, but might if there's enough benefit. I'm nearing the end of my pre-Christmas upgrade budget and I'm trying to make every dollar count.

Thank you in advance!

More about : am3 cpu upgrade question

November 9, 2011 7:08:26 PM

may i ask what you're motherboards name is and would u consider intel?
and if i were you i would look at my motherboards box if it's by asus it probably has "unlock cores" which is sooo easy all you do is restart you're computer and on the start up screen there should be a motherboard name all you do is click the button that ups the cores so if you do that get a 2 core processor and unlocking it to 4 cores making it almost equally as good or even as good as a normal 4 core processor, and then o.c. to what you want if you have TurboV.
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November 9, 2011 7:18:11 PM

AMDFan75 said:
Hello all,

I'm in the process of upgrading my gaming machine (mostly for Skyrim). I'm trying to choose between 2 AM3 CPU's, the Phenom II X4 965 BE and the Athlon II X4 640. As I'm trying to stay on-budget, I'll have to wait to upgrade beyond my 4GB RAM, but I'll also be upgrading to a GTX 560 Ti 1GB.

Would the Phenom II X4 965 offer a considerable performance increase over the Athlon II X4 640? This machine would be used primarily for games. I know the difference between the two is L3 cache, but I'm not really sure if the Phenom would offer a noticeable increase in performance over the Athlon.

Also, I've never bothered with overclocking, but might if there's enough benefit. I'm nearing the end of my pre-Christmas upgrade budget and I'm trying to make every dollar count.

Thank you in advance!


1. 4GB is perfect for gaming, you won't see a performance increase from going above that. Since you stated you are on a budget, that can save you some cash (even though DDR3 ram is cheap)

2. I have used both the athlon II x3 and phenom II x4 in my PCs. In terms of gaming there is a difference when you go from one to the other but it is not a major difference. The athlon II x4 will not prevent you from playing the game at good FPS, the phenom II x4 though will allow enable your GTX560ti to reach more of its full potential then the athlon II x4.

below are the benchmarks between the two CPUs
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=188

3. OC can certainly help narrow the gap between the two CPUs from the athlon II point of view or help increase the performance of the phenom II even further. The black edition phenom II are easier to OC with their unlocked multiplier.

P.S. look for the phenom II x4 955, its the same CPU as the 965 and can often be found cheaper.
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November 9, 2011 7:47:29 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!

@lolzxdrofl - I would consider Intel, yes, but I'm just partial to AMD (every machine I've built since the early-mid 90's has been AMD-based). Unfortunately my motherboard doesn't have unlock capability (it's a GigaByte), and I was budgeting for at least a quad-core CPU anyway. I'll make the move to an 8-core FX eventually, but for now it just isn't in the cards.

@dirtyferret - Thank you for the reply, it was very helpful. I think I'll go with the Phenom II X4 955 now (I was just reading the CPU buyer's guide 2.0 and saw the bit about the 955). As always, I'll be trying to squeeze every last bit of life out of this machine before I upgrade again, and maybe overclocking will help while I begin looking for a better video card.

Cheers!
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November 9, 2011 7:47:56 PM

Best answer selected by AMDFan75.
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