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AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review

Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition: Vitals And Overclocking

As we've already mentioned, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is an update to a familiar design. In fact, AMD readily admits that the silicon belongs to the same revision used to enable its Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition, running at 3.2 GHz. To that end, it centers on a 45nm manufacturing process, it features a 6MB L3 cache, boasts Cool'n'Quiet 3.0 technology, and better branch prediction than the first-generation Phenom family.

Like its predecessors, the Phenom II X4 965 sports 64KB of L1 data and instruction cache per core, plus 512KB L2 cache per core, to complement the shared L3. 

An integrated 128-bit DDR2/DDR3 memory controller (running at 2 GHz by default) interfaces with a pair of 64-bit channels. If you're using the X4 965 on an AM2+ motherboard, speeds of up to DDR2-1066 are officially available. If you're using it on an AM3 platform, you can install DDR3-1333, though it should be noted that only one module per channel works at that frequency. And whereas AMD shipped its Phenom II X4 940 with a 1,800 MHz HyperTransport link, the X4 965 accelerates that to 2 GHz--just like the X4 955 before it. 

The chip's nominal voltage range is .825V-1.425V, so we won't be surprised if power consumption falls within the previous flagship's ballpark. Because it runs at 3.4 GHz, however, AMD is rating the X4 965 at 140W instead of the 125W used in previous flagship Phenom IIs.

Socket AM3/AM2+ Processors
ModelFrequencyL3 CacheVoltageModel #’sSocket
Phenom II X4 965 BE3.4 GHz6 MB.0825-1.425VTray: HDZ965FBK4DGI; PIB: HDZ965FBGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 955 BE3.2 GHz6 MB0.875-1.5VTray: HDZ955FBK4DGI;PIB: HDZ955FBGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 9453.0 GHz6 MB0.875-1.5VTray: HDX945FBK4DGI;PIB: HDX945FBGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 9102.6 GHz6 MB0.875-1.425VTray: HDX910WFK4DGIAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 8102.6 GHz4 MB0.875-1.425VTray: HDX810WFK4FGI; PIB: HDX810WFGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 8052.5 GHz4 MB0.875-1.425VTray: HDX805WFK4FGIAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X3 720 BE2.8 GHz6 MB0.850-1.425VTray: HDZ720WFK3DGI; PIB: HDZ720WFGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X3 7102.6 GHz6 MB0.875-1.425VTray: HDX710WFK3DGI; PIB: HDX710WFGIBOXAM3, AM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 940 BE3.0 GHz6 MB0.875-1.5VTray: HDZ940XCJ4DGI; PIB: HDZ940XCGIBOXAM2+, AM2
Phenom II X4 9202.8 GHz6 MB0.875-1.5VTray: HDX920XCJ4DGI; PIB: HDX920XCGIBOXAM2+, AM2

Overclocking

In past Phenom II reviews, we’ve stuck to AMD’s processor-in-box solution for our overclocking efforts, very consistently falling short of the 4 GHz level so many enthusiasts aim for with flagship CPUs. Thermalright was kind enough to send over the Socket AM3-compatible bracket for its Ultra 120 Extreme, which we’ve started using in reviews.

Yes, we know Phenom II scales well with better cooling, doesn’t suffer from a “cold bug,” and will run in excess of 6 GHz. But high-end air cooling is really as aggressive as most enthusiasts are willing to go, with the exception of those running water. Even there, room temperature is as much as you can hope for.

Using 1.5V on Asus’ M4A79T Deluxe—already a fairly aggressive voltage setting—we were able to hit 4 GHz with the 3.4 GHz Phenom II X4 965. That setting was unstable, though, and we scaled back to 3.9 GHz. Unfortunately, crashes in a couple of our benchmarks forced us to drop back to 3.8 GHz, where we were able to complete the full suite of tests. The top result in each forthcoming chart reflects the performance improvement of adding 400 MHz to AMD’s new flagship.

Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • XD_dued
    Hmmm...i hope the rest of the OC better. I also hope that AMD won't have to price cut too much to compete with i5. Either way, AMD really needs something new and fast....Hopefully they'll do well with the dx11 cards.
    Reply
  • AMDnoob
    ugh... i want to love AMD but I'm not sure this cuts it. I mean, if you get an AMD Phenom II 955 and the 965, they're completely identical except for multiplier. And you can get both processors to 3.8Ghz most of the time. So really whats new???? The 965 has just got a faster stock frequency. But anybody who buys a 955 or 965 is prolly an enthusiast that will end up OCing them to ~3.8Ghz. So just go for the cheaper 955. The 965 sounds like AMD is trying to make something "new", but it's just another Phenom II 45nm chip w/ the same 6mb cache, etc. They need to release a new line for these up coming Intel chips.
    Reply
  • hunter315
    Excellent timing, i was just wondering when i was going to see a performance review for the new 965. Though i would like to see a benchmark comparing the overclocking potential of the 955 to the 965, im curious if its just a higher binned processor or the same one just clocked higher.
    Reply
  • megamanx00
    I better pick up the 955 BE before they are all gone. Doesn't seem like the 965 has any advantage other than the stock clock, and of course I don't plan on leaving it at stock :D.
    Reply
  • chaohsiangchen
    Good article! Judging from what AMD did with 65nm Phenom, they would perhaps release 125W version in early 2010. However, that's pure projection. I will probably get this one and wait for AMD 32nm. Somebody got to support the underdog. Unfortunately, this is the same situation AMD faced during mid 2006 all over again. Intel 32nm is going to be awesome, and it seems that AMD is going to be left without an answer in H1 2010 until they can upgrade production for 32nm.
    Reply
  • anonymous x
    but that Q9550 can overclock well, to the level of the phenom II 965 here and beyond, and clock for clock it is faster than phenom II.
    Can't wait for a AM3 vs LGA 1156 battle soon!
    Reply
  • Raidur
    AMD has a looong way to go. :(
    Reply
  • steel_icon
    Will this run on an old AsuS Crosshair NV590A-SLI motherboard? I surely do hope so...
    Reply
  • bk420
    Pleasant surprise. I love you AMD!
    Reply
  • Nogard
    wow, those are some pretty ordinary results for AMD.
    Reply