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

A Little Bit Better: The Revised Phenom II X4 965 BE CPU

The new revision of the Phenom II X4 965 is not major news by any stretch of the imagination. With the exact same clock speeds and core features as the previous revision, this new CPU will offer exactly the same performance. So, if you would like to refresh your memory, we suggest reading our Phenom II X4 965 launch article. In addition, the Core i5-750 CPU was launched recently and is priced similarly to the Phenom II X4 965, so you might want to see how it performs in relation to the Phenom II X4 in this article.

Today, we'll be discussing what makes the new Phenom II X4 965 different from the previous stepping. The newest stepping offers three changes of note:

- Maximum power usage has been lowered from 140 watts TDP to 125 watts TDP
- C1E power switching management has been moved into the hardware, rather than being BIOS-based
- The CPU's memory controller will now officially support "heavy" load DDR3-1333, four DDR3 DIMMs at the same time

None of these features are game-changers, of course. Of the three, the lower maximum power usage is the most significant, as it theoretically opens up AMD's flagship processor to upgraders who have boards that support a maximum 125 watts TDP.

According to AMD, this new revision will have hardware control of C1E power switching which should equate to faster switching of power states. We've found that Phenom II's are pretty good at switching power states with the Cool'n'Quiet feature, so this C1E enhancement should offer largely theoretical advantages. Similarly, official support for "heavy" load DDR3-1333 with four DIMMs may already be a non-issue if your motherboard has good RAM support. Our older Phenom II X4 965 BE sample handled four DDR3 DIMMs at 1333 MT/s just fine on our Asus M4A785TD-V EVO motherboard, even after extensive stress testing. Perhaps this feature will be more meaningful on low-end boards that don't support fast memory as well as our test bed does.

How do we identify which CPU is the original and which is the new revision? By the Ordering Part Number, or OPN. The OPN of the original 140W Phenom II X4 965 is HDZ965FBK4DGI.  The OPN of the new 125W Phenom II X4 965 is HDZ965FBK4DGM. This identification number can be seen directly on the CPU:

Here's what CPU-Z has to say about the original and new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPUs. Note that the only difference is the revision and stepping: the older CPU shows up as the RB-C2 revision, while the new version is identified as the RB-C3 revision.