AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Review

Article Index

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: AMD's new Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition processor proved to be a solid performer throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. In a handful of the tests that partially make up the PCMark Vantage suite, the 965 BE was even able to pull ahead of Intel's Core i7 920 processor. In the vast majority of our remaining tests, however, with the exception of a few synthetic SiSoft SANDRA benchmarks, the Phenom II X4 965 BE generally trailed the lower clocked, Penryn-based Core 2 Extreme QX9770 and the Nehalem-based Core i7 920. Due to its higher frequency though, the new Phenom II X4 965 BE was clearly the fastest of the AMD-built processors.

In the conclusion of our review of the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition and the Phenom II X4 945 processors which launched on the same day a few months back, we had this to say: "The Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition and the X4 945 will be available immediately for $245 and $225, respectively. Pair one of these processors with an enthusiast-class 790FX or GX-based socket AM3 motherboard and 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory and you've got the makings of a powerful desktop platform for about $450. That's not exactly cheap, but considering the performance and overclockability of the platform, it certainly represents a good value. Yes, Intel's similarly clocked Core 2 Quads and Core i7 processors still maintain a performance advantage, but there is no denying that AMD's Dragon platform is an attractive option that has only been enhanced by the introduction of these new CPUs."

For the most part, everything we stated in that previous article remains true today, save for the fact that DDR3-1333 memory prices are somewhat higher. The Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition debuts at the very same $245 of the 955 BE that it is supplanting at the top of AMD's desktop CPU line-up. That makes the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition an even better value than the 955 in our book. With the Phenom II X4 965, users get even higher performance for the same initial investment. At 3.4GHz with a 140W TDP though, we get the sense that the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is creeping ever closer to the limits of GlobalFoundries' 45nm process, at least in its current form.  To release higher-clocked Phenom II processors, either higher TDPs will be necessary or new core revision will have to be implemented that is equally frequency-friendly but brings power consumption down. We have already seen that AMD's Agena core is capable of extremely high frequencies, but the exotic cooling necessary to hit those frequencies makes them obviously impractical.  Finally, when you consider a 3.33GHz Intel Core i7 975 Extreme Edition has a TDP of 130W, the picture comes even more clearly into focus.

Regardless, the release of the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is a good thing for AMD. They've managed to release their fastest processor yet, and at a price point that's sure to please many budget-minded consumers. In addition, the fact that it's unlocked should make the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition all the more appealing to overclockers looking to get the most from their hardware budgets.



  • Strong Performance
  • Good Power Consumption
  • Great Upgrade Path
  • DDR2 or DDR3 Compatible
  • Overclockable
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Fastest AMD CPUs to Date


  • Still Can't Quite Catch Intel's Similarly Clocked Processors

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