AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition - BeHardware
>> Processors

Written by Marc Prieur

Published on August 13, 2009


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While Intel’s Socket 775 platform has not developed in terms of performances for more than a year and a half (the QX9770 dates from November 2007!), AMD continues, bit by bit, to catch up on the Core 2 Quads, developing first its Phenom then Phenom II ranges. After having launched the Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition at 3.2 GHz last April, AMD has returned with a new jump of 200 MHz with the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition.

For 200 MHz more
The pricing news is good with AMD launching its new processor at the same price as the current 955, namely $245. The 955 has not been cut for the moment, nor has the rest of the range.

The second bit of news is not quite as good however, as in order to clock this one high while retaining the same C2 revision of the processor, AMD has forced the voltage up from 1.35 to 1.4v, which brings the TDP up from 125 to 140W.

Designed for the AM3 Socket, it is, like all the processors of this type, backwards compatible with AM2+ Sockets. With the AM3 it can be paired with DDR3 (up to 1333) and with the AM2+ with DDR2 (up to 1066). As we have demonstrated in the past, the gains brought by DDR3 are relatively minor on this platform, so if you already have memory or if you’re a bit strapped for cash, the AM2+ is a viable choice.

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Overclocking, energy consumption, the test


Lets start with looking at overclocking on AMD's new baby. AMD say that on average they obtained better results on the 965 than on the 955, but this wasn’t the case in our test. Tested on the ASUSTeK M4A79 Deluxe with a Noctua NH-U9B cooler, we managed 3.5 GHz at 1.4V while our 955 was stable at 3.6 GHz at the same voltage. We had to go up to 1.45V to get 3.6 GHz, 1.5V for 3.7 GHz and 1.55V for 3.8 GHz. As we were using air-cooling, we didn’t go any higher. The clocks obtained here were stable in 4 instances of Prime95. Given the starting clock, then, we can say that overclocking doesn’t go that far.
Energy consumption
Energy consumption was measured in two places: processor consumption alone at the ATX12V socket with a clip-on ammeter and total consumption with a power meter at the wall socket. With the readings at the ATX12V, because of the different methods of supplying the CPUs, on the Athlons and Phenoms the memory controller (not built-in on Core 2), that consumes between 10 and 15W in load, is included, while on the Core i7 it isn’t (same for the L3), the uncore part being supplied via the ATX standard socket.

At the ATX12V, we note that the Phenom II X4 965 is quite simply more demanding than the most demanding of the Phenom’s, more than a 9950 engraved at 65nm (but clocked at 2.6 GHz).

The overall reading allows us to compare platforms and you can see that with this new Phenom AMD is even further from the in-load economy of the Core 2s and is closer to the Core i7s in terms of consumption – though not, of course, in terms of performance!
The test
We use the same test protocol as the one we elaborated for the Core i7 in November last year, namely:

- ASUSTeK P5QC + 2x2 GB DDR2-1066 5-5-5 (LGA775)
- ASUSTeK M3A78-T + 2x2 GB DDR2-800 4-4-4 (AM2+)
- Intel DX58SO + 3x1 GB DDR3-1067 (LGA1360)
- GeForce GTX 280 + GeForce 180.84
- Raptor 74 GB + Raptor 150 GB
- Creative Audigy
- Windows Vista 32 bits SP1

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3D Studio Max 2009, Cinema 4D R11

3D Studio Max 2009

We begin with the well known image rendering software. The test scene used is from SPECapc for 3ds max 9 (space_flyby_mentalray) which employs the MentalRay rendering machine.

The Phenom II X4 965 is on a par with the Intel Q9650 but can do nothing to combat the Core i7s that are far out in front.
Cinema 4D R11

The rendering software Maxon is well known in the overclocker community through Cinebench, which allows you to compare processor performance easily. Cinebench however uses version R10 of the Cinema 4D rendering machine, while version R11 doubles performance. We therefore used the most recent version with the Cinebench R10 scene rendered in a higher res so as to increase rendering time.

The new Phenom II has done pretty well as it is in front of the QX9770! Not up there with the Core i7s but nevertheless a good performance.

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MinGW / GCC, WinRAR 3.8

MinGW / GCC, WinRAR 3.8

This is an applied test with the compilation of MAME source code using GCC under the MinGW development environment.

Once again the Phenom II X4 965 does better than the Core 2 QX9770 but performs behind the i7.
WinRAR 3.8

We use WinRAR version 3.8 in the highest compression mode for a total of 1.76 GB of files comprised of 1479 Word & Excel files (207 MB), 66 e-mail Eudora files (753 MB) and three wav audio format files (804 MB)BR>

The Phenom II X4 965 does better than the Q9650 in this test, but is still far behind the i7.

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Vdub + DiVX 6.8, AutoMKV + x264

Vdub + DiVX 6.8

We test encoding a 10 minute 16 second DV file in DiVX format, at 720x576 with an average bitrate of 780 kbits/s at the highest quality (Insane). SSE4 is activated when available.

Because of SSE4 optimisations integrated into DiVX 6.8, the Phenom II is a little down here and at the same level as the Q9450 and Q9550.
AutoMKV + x264

New in our test protocol, H.264 encoding using AutoMKV and the free x264 codec. A 2 minutes DV 720x480 file encoded using AutoMKV’s “2_Pass_Extreme_Quality”.

Here the Phenom II X4 965 is at almost the same level as the QX9770.

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After Effects CS3, Nuendo 4

After Effects CS3

For Adobe After Effects CS3 we are using a new composition using various effects so as to render 3D animation. Multiprocecessing is activated so as to make the most of the available number of cores.

The Intel processors have a clear advantage and the most recent Phenom II is only able to place itself between the Q8200 and Q8300.
Nuendo 4

We are now using version 4 of Nuendo, with patch 4.2. A new music project using various native plugins as well as 2 HalionOne virtual instruments was exported as a wav file (thanks to Draculax).

Not really much better than in After Effects, the Phenom II X4 965 is between the Q8300 and Q8400.

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Crysis 1.2, World In Conflict

Crysis 1.2

With patch 1.2, Crysis has an even heavier CPU bench than before (to be found in the Bin32 directory). The test was carried out at high settings, but at a res of 800x600 so as to limit dependence on the graphics card and in DirectX 10 mode so as to make the most of the multithreading optimisations of the NVIDIA drivers.

The Phenom II X4 965 is between the Q8300 and the Q9300.

World In Conflict

The test was carried out at a res of 800x600 at very high settings and in DirectX 10 mode so as to benefit from the multithreading optimisations of the NVIDIA drivers.

This time it is on a level with the Q9400.

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Performance averages

Although individual app results are worth looking at, we calculated a performance index based on all tests with the same weight for each test. An index of 100 was set to the Intel Core 2 Q6600.

Overall, the Phenom II X4 965 is situated at the same level as the Q9550 in terms of performances. The average gain over its predecessor is 5.3%, which is good without being great, given the clock increase of 6.2%. This average does of course smooth certain significant disparities as the new Phenom II is sometimes on a par with the Core 2 QX9770 but at others is comparable to entry level Intels.

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With the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, AMD has made up some of the distance between itself and Intel in terms of performance and this processor now sits opposite the Core 2 Q9550. Costing $245, as against the official price of $266 for the Q9550, it is well placed in terms of its price/performance ratio. The gain on the first Phenom’s is now 35% since launch of the Phenom IIs.

Nevertheless performances are not the whole picture and in absolute terms this new Phenom II is in fact just a 955 Black Edition that has been pushed a bit further: AMD has increased the original voltage to get up to 3.4 GHz but the 955s already clocked 200 MHz higher under the same conditions. Fortunately AMD has not made the mistake of selling the 965 at a higher price than the 955. AMD is now at the end of the line with its Phenom II 45 nm of the C2 revision and with any luck any forthcoming clock increases will result from a new revision.

It has to be said that the new Phenom II has only achieved any performance increase at the price of a 20 watt increase in energy consumption, which makes the Phenom II comparable to the Core i7s in terms of energy consumption but only comparable to the Core 2s in terms of performance. This is not the best of results and makes the positioning of the Phenom II opposite Intel’s two offers rather delicate.

Above and beyond any performance/price comparison, not to mention overclocking that is in Intel’s favour, the only real advantage the Phenom IIs have is platform stability. The AM3 platform is likely to continue to develop until 2011, while Socket 775 will not evolve beyond the forthcoming LGA1166. It remains to be seen what AM3 processors AMD will be able to put on the table between now and then. Unfortunately this is currently unknown!

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