AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review

Benchmark Results: Synthetics

Synthetic benchmarks are often forward-looking measures of performance that predict the direction of things as the software community gets better at taking advantage of today's hardware features. PCMark Vantage centers entirely on Windows Vista-based apps, though, so its results are actually a bit more meaningful than some of the unrealistically-demanding workloads seen in the past.

Here we see the Phenom II X4 965 trounce Intel’s Core 2 Quad Q9550S and even best the stock-clocked Core i7-920, which gets a nudge up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost. Most interesting, though, is the fact that the overclocked Phenom II gains nothing, while the X4 965 is quite a bit faster than the X4 955 operating 200 MHz slower.

A gauge of gaming performance, 3DMark Vantage also favors the latest Phenom II in its overall suite score. The CPU AI and physics tests overwhelmingly favor the Core i7’s Nehalem micro-architecture.

Despite losing out to Core i7 in Sandra’s arithmetic tests, Phenom II dominates the multi-media metric.

Changing clock speed doesn’t really do anything to the Phenom’s memory bandwidth performance (although taking away one core seems to cost some throughput). Core i7 and its triple-channel memory controller serve up the biggest bandwidth numbers, while Core 2 Quad’s northbridge-based controller hampers performance in comparison. When pressed for an explanation as to why the triple-core Phenom II reflects less throughput, SiSoftware's engineers had this to say:

"Single-core test cases cannot utilize the full bandwidth of the integrated memory controller. It is an issue related to local resources in the internal tables of the core. You need to hold an entry in the table allocated to memory access until the memory returns with the data. Since the table size is limited, you can’t issue a new request to the memory subsystem until one of the previous requests is returned (only then you can allocate the table entry needed to hold the data). This problem would go away if you had an infinite number of entries."

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.