AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Review - HotHardware

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Review

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Like its predecessors, the AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition looks just like the original Phenoms, due to its use of similar packaging and the same heat spreader design. The chip utilizes AMD's Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA) packaging, which is backward compatible with Socket AM2+. Here's what the processor looks like, from both sides...

   
Socket AM3 Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition

Like all previous socket AM3-compatible processors that have been introduced over the last few months, the Socket AM3 Phenom II X4 965 is designed to work with both DDR2 and DDR3 memory types, and with Socket AM3 or AM2+ motherboards.  Socket AM2+ processors do not have the ability to work with DDR3 memory though, so AMD made some changes to the Socket AM3 pin configuration to prevent AM2+ processors from being plugged into AM3 sockets.  Socket AM3 processors like the 965 BE pictured above have 938 pins, whereas socket AM2 processors have 940; two pins have been removed.  If you look close at the shot of the processor's underside above, you'll notice that there are two groups of three and two groups of two pins missing on the underside of the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition--on AM2+ processors, four groups of two pins are removed.  Keying the processors and sockets in this way prevents AM2+ processors from being installed on AM3 motherboards, but allows AM3 processors to be installed on either type of motherboard.
 

       
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU-Z Details

To get glimpse into the Phenom II 965 Black Edition's inner workings, we fired up CPU-Z to take a peek at its core and cache configurations. CPU-Z correctly identifies the processor as Phenom II X4 based on the core codenamed "Deneb", but incorrectly identifies it as an AM2+ CPU (we had it installed in an AM3 motherboard). As the information shows, the chips are manufactured using GlobalFoundries' 45nm process technology and our particular sample has a stepping designation of 2 and core revision of RB-C2. The Phenom II X4 965 BE chip is clocked at 3.4GHz, due to its 17x multiplier and 200MHz base clock, the HT link is running at 2.0GHz, and there is 512K of L1 Data / Instruction cache, 2MB of L2 cache (512K per core), and 6MB of shared L3 cache available, for a total of 8MB combined L2 and L3 cache.

Overclocking The Phenom II X4 965
Pedal To The Metal


AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Overclocked to 3.82GHz

Phenom II's have earned a reputation for being highly overclockable processors. In a previous article, we were able to achieve a clock speed increase of about 800MHz over stock with the Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition; other Phenom IIs we tested didn't fare quite as well, but 600MHz to 700MHz increases were not uncommon using nothing but the stock air cooler. 

With that in mind, we set out to overclock the new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition using the stock AMD PIB cooler and an Asus 790FX based motherboard. With a bump in CPU core voltage to 1.5v, we were able to take the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition to just over 3.8GHz with complete stability--only a ~400MHz increase. 3.9GHz - 4GHz would load Windows, but no amount of voltage allowed us to maintain stability during testing. Remember, Black Edition processors are unlocked, so we were able to achieve this overclock by merely altering the CPU multiplier and voltage in the system BIOS or via AMD's OverDrive utility. As you can see in the screencap above, while overclocked, the 965 BE zipped along at a toasty 65'C+. That's a bit warm, but keep in mind we were using the stock cooler and it's the middle of the summer. While idling, the chip barely broke the 35'C barrier.
 

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140 watts? Holy Hot Heck, Batman! But then I read further into the article and I saw this chart:

Notice the Phenom 965 vs. the Core i-7 920 and Core 2 Duo E6850. As power-hungry as the Phenom 965 appears to be, the Phenom system uses less power than those Intel rigs, and I find that to be quite interesting. The Core 2 Duo E6850 (3.0 GHz) is a 65 watt dual-core processor, so why does that system use more power than the Phenom 965 system?

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Good going on AMDs part the 1st 3.4ghz CPU on the market at a reasonable price on Newegg for $249.00. Unless I somehow smoke mt Phenom 720 dont plan on getting rid of it but sure would like to plant this new toy on my board and try it out!

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Aw geez, now I have to consider AM3 motherboards for my new system build! Any advice on motherboards, Dave? And how does it (slurp) overclock?

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Perhaps THIS article will give you some ideas, ClemSnide. If you do decide to go with that Phenom II 965 mentioned here just make sure your new mobo will support it. Our resident Phenom overclock guru, AMDCrankItUp, can probably answer any overclock question you might have!

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There seems to be a problem with your overclock.  Every other review on the web has hit 3.8Ghz on stock voltages/cooler in x64 OS and 4Ghz on stock voltages/cooler in x86 OS.

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@ Super Dave:  the E6850 draws quite a bit of power due to leakage and 65nm size, so it isnt surprising to see it sucking down alot of juice.  Intel usually understates its TDP where as AMD overstates it.  The Phenom II 125w chips dont really pull 125w, they pull less, but AMD is playing it on the safe side since there will likely be some in a batch that need to pull more watts.

@InfinityzeN:  Yeah the HH oc seems very weak.  Likely the RAM and NB were not tested at stock enough to find how hard they can be pushed and what volts they need.  Both of these settings kinda depend on what the IMC in the chip likes, and if it likes volts which the 965 seems to like then that is probably the root of the low OC.  I have seen folks with the 965 ES which almost always oc crappier than retail manage to hit 4.1ghz on air with a little tweaking, which mainly consisted of getting that IMC stable by upping the volts on the NB, IMC and RAM.

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No "problem" with the overclock, that's just what our particlur chip did with the stock cooler and a bump in voltage.

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If anyone is looking for a x4 965 be sure and hit the for sale or trade section. I have a new in box black edition ready to go

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