Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE: Same Speed, Less Power

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE: Same Speed, Less Power
By

It's no secret that AMD has its work cut out for it right now. The company's top-of-the-line flagship Phenom II X4 965 isn't in the same league as Intel's premium Core i7. Even Intel's mid-range Core i5-750 CPU is a powerful adversary for the similarly-priced Phenom II X4 965, and while it puts up a decent fight, AMD's champion is bested far more often than not.

AMD will answer the high-performance challenge with the "Thuban" six-core CPU in 2010, a processor based on the already-released hexa-core Opteron. The consumer version of this processor is likely to be called the Phenom II X6, we have to guess.

While Thuban will compete more readily against Intel's Core i7, there are two looming problems with this plan. First, it probably won't happen until close to the middle of 2010 (a virtual eternity in the tech sector), and by that time Intel will likely be ready to launch the six-core "Gulftown" processor (purportedly Core i9). In 2011, we can see some game-changers in AMD's plans, such as a new high-end platform and the fruition of the "Fusion" processor featuring a graphics processor on-die. But at least until then, it looks like AMD will have an uphill battle in the high-end consumer space.

Faced with these facts, AMD is cleverly playing up the longevity strategy that served it so well in the Socket A days. In other words, keep the new CPUs backward-compatible with established sockets. On the other hand, platform longevity is something Intel has never expressed much of an interest in extending. While Intel jumped sockets from the Pentium III to Pentium 4, AMD stayed with Socket A all the way from the original 600 MHz Duron to the newest Athlon XP 3200+. Fast forward to today, and Intel offers the LGA 775 Core 2 Duo, LGA 1156 Core i5, and LGA 1366 Core i7 processors; all current models with different socket interfaces.

Contrast that with AMD's new AM3 Athlon II and Phenom II processors, all of which will work on older AM2+/DDR2 motherboards as well as new AM3/DDR3 platforms. The significance of this is compelling when you realize the upgrade path that exists for AMD's customers. Someone who purchased an AM2+/Athlon 64 X4 combo last year can upgrade not only to a faster Athlon II X2/X3/X4 processor, but also a formidable Phenom II X2/X3/X4. There is even a good possibility that their current motherboard might work with the upcoming Phenom II X6 when those CPUs arrive next year (assuming a similar maximum TDP). All of these upgrades are possible without changing a single component, except the processor.

All of this plays into AMD's strength in the entry-level space, with very compelling low-cost platforms and CPUs in a segment that Intel hasn't yet really fought to control. Right now, a budget buyer can get an Athlon II X3 435 for under $90 and a decent motherboard for under $100. When the time comes for an upgrade, is that user going to start over and build a Core i5 system from the ground-up, or are they more likely to buy a Phenom II X4 processor and realize similar performance without having to change platforms? When we look at things from this perspective, we see AMD can offer huge upgrade advantages over Intel products, despite the performance disparity with the new Core i5 and i7 processors.

While AMD's flagship Phenom II X4 965 has recently come down in price to $195 ($5 less than Intel's new Core i5-750), it isn't an ideal upgrader's CPU for many AM2+/AM3 motherboards because of its 140 watt maximum TDP, as many motherboards limit their support to 125 watt CPUs. It is because of this that some upgraders may be interested in the new revision of Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition sporting a maximum 125 watt TDP, among other refinements.

Display all 76 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    osse , November 4, 2009 11:49 AM
    Well my regular job is in economic, and not in laguage, as u can tell of my english skills, in order to give Intel real competion AMD need round 30-35 of the marked, why u can ask.

    Intels R&d last yr was as big as AMDs total sale, take in account that thay also fight Nvidia, so then u maybe understand why AMD is not best. If AMD drops farther down, what are we nerds left with, the answear should be clear to anyone that can think, we are left with only Intel.

    I do build riggs, guess round 100 over 18 yr, for friends and stuff, i do refuse to build Intel riggs, why ?, becouse of the marked situation, we lost cyris as a cpu vendor, if we loose AMD to, then my fellow nerds, we are in troubel. I do however never recomend an AMD built if Intel is clearly supperiour, therefor we builder need to know the limits. AS toms has stated in severual test, AMD is good at budget riggs, but how far up can an Athl II 435, an Phii 720 suppurt a grapfic card, well even the phii955 is dirt cheap here.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2009 8:34 AM
    Every little bit of clockspeed and efficiency help out. I'm sure when Intel were testing their I7s they had to do some tweaking as well and later revisions had changes invoked. Hopefully we'll see phenom x6 soon and possibly a more refined architecture in future steppings.
  • 3 Hide
    Silmarunya , November 4, 2009 8:42 AM
    I'd like to see its power consumption being put against the i5's. They are both more than good enough for gaming, yet in Europe the price difference between a 965 and an i5 is far larger than in the US. So I'd like to know about other factors like power consumption and motherboard quality. An idea for a new article perhaps?
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , November 4, 2009 9:32 AM
    In the year 2012 we shall see AMD challenging Intel in high-end category, by then Global Foundries [4.2 billion dollar ] Fab 2 should be in full-scale production . Also as times goes by Global Foundries will purchase more Semiconductor firms (they recently purchased Chartered Semiconductor).

  • 0 Hide
    butcher , November 4, 2009 9:34 AM
    a change for the better is always good

    its a bigger change than say the step from C0 to D0 with the 1366 I7's
  • 3 Hide
    osse , November 4, 2009 10:50 AM
    Well i kinda liked that on 1920x1080 the phII 965 beats the I7-940 at stock in 2 of 4 games, tie one, looses one with the 5870 at guru 3d review of phii 965.

    Its not like im a normal AMD fanboy, i just dont like monopolistisk tendenses, so as a builder i do have to know when i can tell u get the best rig with AMD or do u have to go to Intel.

    I still hope Toms and preferabel Cleave comes with a review when a cpu bottelneck 5850 and 5870 at best grapic settings. Hilbert shows us that the AThlon II 435 do bottelneck a 5870, but since 5850 is round 15% slower than 5870, even the athlII 435 at stock should be close to take advantage of a radeon 5850.
  • 5 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 4, 2009 11:34 AM
    Amd is trying hard , and we appreciate the efforts .
  • 10 Hide
    osse , November 4, 2009 11:49 AM
    Well my regular job is in economic, and not in laguage, as u can tell of my english skills, in order to give Intel real competion AMD need round 30-35 of the marked, why u can ask.

    Intels R&d last yr was as big as AMDs total sale, take in account that thay also fight Nvidia, so then u maybe understand why AMD is not best. If AMD drops farther down, what are we nerds left with, the answear should be clear to anyone that can think, we are left with only Intel.

    I do build riggs, guess round 100 over 18 yr, for friends and stuff, i do refuse to build Intel riggs, why ?, becouse of the marked situation, we lost cyris as a cpu vendor, if we loose AMD to, then my fellow nerds, we are in troubel. I do however never recomend an AMD built if Intel is clearly supperiour, therefor we builder need to know the limits. AS toms has stated in severual test, AMD is good at budget riggs, but how far up can an Athl II 435, an Phii 720 suppurt a grapfic card, well even the phii955 is dirt cheap here.
  • 6 Hide
    Silmarunya , November 4, 2009 11:55 AM
    True... AMD is going down too fast for my liking. However, ATI is performing quite well afaik, and AMD is showing hopeful signs. R&D is profitable and Global Foundries is nearly out of the red digits. They'll probably be the first to deliver affordable 6 cores as well, since Gulftown's prices will be through the roof I think.

    Still, that doesn't solve my issue as another potential builder: since AMD and Intel now make equally well performing CPU's (for gaming purposes, that is), is there a reason not to pick the cheaper AMD? Higher power consumption, or less well performing motherboards, or something along these lines?
  • 5 Hide
    raptor550 , November 4, 2009 12:03 PM
    Nice use of a 1200watt PSU. Good to see that you really thought out this article by using a PSU so overpowered that it wouldn't be efficient. That is especially important when measuring total system efficiency.

    Try harder next time.
  • 2 Hide
    cyberkuberiah , November 4, 2009 12:09 PM
    Don WoligroskiWithout a crystal ball, it's impossible to answer these questions ...


    for speculation , in apps/games that really use 4 cores (x264/gta4), it would not be up to phenom II X4's and even Phenom II X3's .

    in apps/games that dont use more than two cores , it would take out every amd offering . although it would be "in line' upgrade for anyone with a core 2 duo , quads are getting more and more important . i also hope that the rumors of very high clock speeds/practical everyday use overclockability are true . lets all wait now !
  • 3 Hide
    cleeve , November 4, 2009 12:29 PM
    raptor550Nice use of a 1200watt PSU. Good to see that you really thought out this article by using a PSU so overpowered that it wouldn't be efficient.


    Are you suggesting that a 1200W PSU will magically add power usage to one revision of the 965 CPU and not the other?

    I'm not sure how PSUs work in the magic fairytale land you come from, but in reality they tend to work a little more predictably than that...

    We're looking for the delta between the two, not criticizing total system efficiency. Try harder to understand the point of the benchmark next time. :D 
  • 4 Hide
    restrain_oligopolies , November 4, 2009 12:41 PM
    AMD processors handle ECC parity memory; Intel processors do not.
    With excessive effort, whenever I purchase a new processor,
    I find that the AMD processors (Athlon, Phenom, and of course Opteron) support ECC parity memory.
    At Intel, I never find that their processors support ECC memory,
    unless they are very expensive server class processors (Xeon).

    I buy AMD processors rather than Intel processors because the AMD processors support ECC memory, and for NO other reason.
    Without ECC memory, since I run my computers 24/7, about every 5 years I will see a catastrophic error, which I like to attribute to a memory parity problem.
    For example, 4 years ago on one of my computers,
    the operating system disk drive,
    a secondary disk drive,
    and a USB mounted disk drive
    were all scrambled around 1:30am on my non-ECC computer.
    I was cautious enough to have a backup, but the backup was mounted,
    so it was also scrambled,
    costing me a couple hundred hours of lost work and a client's wrath.

    Reliability accommodates such long time periods that we almost always fail to account for it -- whether in stock markets, plagues, or computer processors.

    Far more important than a little more processor performance is robustness against failure, particularly against corruption of media.
    These failures come so infrequently that reviewers can not test for them,
    but infrequent catastrophic consequences outweigh performance gains that reviewers do test.
  • 6 Hide
    ryman546 , November 4, 2009 12:41 PM
    CleeveAre you suggesting that a 1200 CPU will magically add power usage to one revision of the 965 CPU and not the other? I'm not sure how PSUs work in the magic fairytale land you come from, but in reality they tend to work a little more predictably than that... We're looking for the delta between the two, not criticizing total system efficiency. Try harder to understand the point of the benchmark next time.

    Someone just got bent over the knee and issued a swift spanking.
  • -7 Hide
    masterasia , November 4, 2009 12:49 PM
    Alright, Finally 125W TDP. This is great. The biggest downfall of the X4 965 was the 140W TDP. Why was there a need for an extra 15W to gain only 200Mhz over the X4 955? Makes me want to get one now, but I like my high end Intels better. I would probably get still a 1156 over AM3 because the P55 chipset allows me to choose SLI or CFX, and the article did imply that the i5 750 is probably a better chip than the X4 965, even with the new stepping.
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 4, 2009 1:07 PM

    The Test System summary describes the CPUs as being Athlon IIs. I
    assume this is supposed to read Phenom II?

    Ian.

  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , November 4, 2009 1:10 PM
    Thanks Ian, fixed!
  • -2 Hide
    Silmarunya , November 4, 2009 1:11 PM
    masterasiaI would probably get still a 1156 over AM3 because the P55 chipset allows me to choose SLI or CFX, and the article did imply that the i5 750 is probably a better chip than the X4 965, even with the new stepping.


    How did this article imply the i5 750 to be better than the 955? Yes, there is the CF and SLI advantage of the chipset itself, but does that make the i5 itself superior to the 965?
  • 0 Hide
    tester24 , November 4, 2009 1:15 PM
    I do like the fact you can just drop in the next chip from AMD's platforms, but will this continue when the release Bulldozer? I heard they were supposed to jump over to an LGA socket. But knowing AMD they will continue to keep the same socket for many of their processors.
  • 4 Hide
    tester24 , November 4, 2009 1:19 PM
    Another thing I might note sure the i5 750s are faster than AMD's flagship but they don't have as many PCIe 2.0 pipelines as AMD does. So you can never have 2 x16 2.0 Gen cards run full.
  • -4 Hide
    cleeve , November 4, 2009 1:23 PM
    SilmarunyaYes, there is the CF and SLI advantage of the chipset itself, but does that make the i5 itself superior to the 965?


    No, but the performance does. At stock speeds the i5 750 will outperform the 965 the great majority of the time, and when they're both overclocked the i5 will surpass an the 965 by a substantial margin. Check the reviews.
Display more comments