AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsAMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (Deneb) 3.4 GHz, AM3, 2,000 MHz HT, 6 MB L3 Cache, Power-savings enabled
Row 1 - Cell 0 AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition (Deneb) 3.2 GHz, AM3, 2,000 MHz HT, 6 MB L3 Cache, Power-savings enabled
Row 2 - Cell 0 AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition (Heka) 2.8 GHz, AM2+, 2,000 MHz HT, 6 MB L3 Cache, Power-savings enabled
Row 3 - Cell 0 Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550S (Yorkfield) 2.83 GHz, LGA 775, 1,333 MHz FSB, 12 MB L2, Power-savings enabled
Row 4 - Cell 0 Intel Core i7 920 (Bloomfield) 2.66 GHz, LGA 1366, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8 MB L3, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardsAsus M4A79T Deluxe (AM3) 790FX/SB750, BIOS 0066
Row 6 - Cell 0 Gigabyte EP45-UD3P (LGA 775) P45/ICH10R, BIOS F9
Row 7 - Cell 0 Asus P6T (LGA 1366) X58/ICH10R, BIOS 0502
MemoryCorsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 @ DDR3-1333
Row 9 - Cell 0 Corsair 6 GB (3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 @ DDR3-1333
Hard DriveWestern Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300 GB 10,000 RPM SATA 3 Gb/s
GraphicsSapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 2 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP 1100W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate Edition x64, Service Pack 1
DirectXDirectX 10
Platform DriverCatalyst 9.7
Row 17 - Cell 0 Intel INF Chipset Update Utility
Graphics DriverCatalyst 9.7

By popular demand, we're setting aside the hardware from our 2009 reference platform to arm these test configurations with a Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card. Not only will this more-powerful board do a better job exposing potential platform bottlenecks (especially in gaming tests), but it's also an integral part of AMD's Dragon platform, which most folks seem interested in compiling.

Note also that we're using a Core 2 Quad Q9550S instead of the less-expensive Core 2 Quad Q9550. This is the model to which we have access. It performs exactly like a Q9550, but will affect our power measurements. This is mentioned in the analysis for power consumption.

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Benchmarks and Settings
3D Games
Stalker: Clear SkyQuality settings set to high, 1920x1200/1680x1050, Benchmark tool, average of all four scenarios
Far Cry 2Quality settings set to high, 1920x1200/1680x1050, latest Steam version, in-game benchmark (Ranch medium).
Left 4 DeadQuality settings set to max, 1920x1200/1680x1050, latest Steam version, timed demo.
H.A.W.X.High Quality Setting, vsync off, 1680x1050/1920x1200, DirectX 10, Ambient Occlusion: High, Patch 1.2
Audio Encoding
iTunesVersion:, Audio CD ("Terminator II" SE), 53 min., Default format AAC
Lame MP3Version: 3.98 (64-bit), Audio CD ""Terminator II" SE, 53 min, wave to MP3, 160 Kb/s
Video Encoding
TMPEG 4.6Version:, Import File: "Terminator II" SE DVD (5 Minutes), Resolution: 720x576 (PAL) 16:9
DivX 6.8.5Encoding mode: Insane Quality, Enhanced Multi-Threading, Enabled using SSE4, Quarter-pixel search
XviD 1.2.1Display encoding status=off
Mainconcept Reference 1.6.1MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG2), Audio: MPEG2 (44.1 KHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 Kb/s), Mode: PAL (25 FPS), Profile: Tom’s Hardware Settings for Qct-Core
Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 (64-bit)Version: 2009, Rendering Dragon Image at 1920x1080 (HDTV)
WinRAR 3.90 Beta 1Version 3.90 Beta 1, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
WinZip 12Version 12, Compression=Best, Benchmark: THG-Workload (334 MB)
Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
3DMark VantageVersion: 1.02, GPU and CPU scores
PCMark VantageVersion: 1.00, System, Memory, Hard Disk Drive benchmarks, Windows Media Player
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP3CPU Test=CPU Arithmetic/MultiMedia, Memory Test=Bandwidth Benchmark
Chris Angelini
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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Raidur
    AMD has a looong way to go. :(
  • steel_icon
    Will this run on an old AsuS Crosshair NV590A-SLI motherboard? I surely do hope so...
  • bk420
    Pleasant surprise. I love you AMD!
  • Nogard
    wow, those are some pretty ordinary results for AMD.