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Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 04 November 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE 125W CPU HDZ965FBK4DGM
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Phenom-II X4-965 BE
Testing and Results
EVEREST CPU Benchmarks
PCMark Vantage System Tests
Pro/ENGINEER Benchmark
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
Resident Evil 5 Tests
X4-965 Overclock Results
Power Consumption
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Black Edition Final Thoughts

It's not easy to sell your product when the competitions lowest-end processor matches up against your highest-end component... unless of course you throw in something that otherwise costs 500% more. Not having to pay $999.99 or more for the 'privilege' of owning an unlocked processor is something most overclockers will appreciate. Don't get me wrong, I imagine there are plenty of people out there with an Intel Core i7-975 Extreme Edition processor in their system (at least half of those people probably received theirs directly from Intel for review), it seems more likely that overclockers and hardware enthusiasts might rather enjoy the same thrill for around $200 or less.

It's been a long time since I actually got to sit down and overclock a modern processor by simply setting the voltage and clock multiplier. I sincerely miss the days when all processors were unlocked, and it was anybody's game. AMD was one of the first companies to bring CPU overclocking into the mainstream, partially because their original Athlon (socket A) processors were eating up Intel's Pentium 4 series clock for clock, and partially because they didn't cost as much. It helped that AMD etched fab and batch numbers right on the die, allowing overclockers to seek out the very best (and most tolerant) processors of the bunch. Now, once again, AMD is the underdog and fights the good fight for overclocking enthusiasts by offering a Black Edition processor at the exact same prices as Intel's lowest-end Core i5 mainstream CPU. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

AMD_Phenom_II-X4_965_Black_Edition_125W.jpg

At the beginning of this article I claimed that the AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE processor is a true dichotomy: it offers unlocked overclocking potential while at the same time improving energy efficiency to conserve electricity. But there's actually another paradox brewing here: will AMD help the personal computer maintain its affordable open-ended technology for the every-man, or will Intel win out and have us all paying a premium for what was once a given? To what end will we accept $1000 'Extreme Edition' processors that offer no added enthusiast experience, when that same thing can be had for a fraction of the cost? At the end of the day, enthusiasts shouldn't allow the PC to become like the Apple Mac: an overpriced hardware clone with a proprietary recipe. But then again, perhaps that "Apple Tax" is really just another way for consumers to pay for that new locked-down Intel processor resting inside.

125W X4-965 Conclusion

Benchmark Reviews begins each conclusion with a short summary for each area that we rate. The first is performance, which considers how effective the 125W AMD Phenom-II X4-965 processor operated in relation to the closest price-point competition. While the synthetic benchmark tests were inconclusive and favored the X4-965 or i5-750 depending on the suite, but gaming performance was definitive. The difference was minor, but a 2-3 FPS advantage for the AMD X4-965 over the i5-750 in every game we tested was enough to prove the point.

AMD has done a great job refining the model HDZ965FBK4DGM AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE 125W processor, even though the die is constructed with the same 45nm process as before. Functionality has actually improved with the new model, as GlobalFoundries FAB1 has added C1E implementation on the hardware level, and DDR3 is now supported at 1333MHz for 'Heavy' loads. Let's not forget the 'Black Edition' label, which unlocks the clock multiplier and allows for unrestricted overclocking beyond the 3.4GHz default speed. With a small voltage increase and a bump to the multiplier, Benchmark Reviews was able to reach 4.2GHz with ease.

As of early November 2009, the 140W version of AMD's Phenom-II X4-965 Black Edition sells for $195.99 at NewEgg. As of the 125W part launch (model HDZ965FBK4DGM), AMD expects that retailers will soon reduce their prices for existing 140W stock, allowing the 125W part to sell for the same price.

Synthetic benchmarks swayed back and forth between AMD and Intel, while Pro/ENGINEER 2001 CAD performance leaned heavy on the Core i5-750. This indicates that Intel offers a strong workstation processor, great for industrial applications. That's good news for the corporate environment, where engineering software will benefit. Enthusiasts aren't terribly worried about CAD/CAM performance, however. Video game frame rate performance unanimously favored the AMD Phenom-II X4-965 processor series in each of the gaming tests we conducted, and the unlocked Black Edition feature allowed for a rediculously simple overclock from 3.4 to 4.2GHz using standard air cooling. In summary, the new 125W version of the AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE processor follows deep in the footsteps

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Outperforms the Intel Core i5-750 in gaming frame rates
+ Unlocked processor allows unrestricted overclocking
+ Very low 125W TDP reduces heat output at idle and load
+ Socket AM3 and DDR3 1333 support
+ 8.5MB Total processor cache
+ C1E implemented at hardware level
+ Fastest retail processor at 3.4GHz stock
+ 4.2GHz Overclock possible with air cooling
+ AMD Overdrive (AOD) 3.1

Cons:

- Trails behind Intel in CAD/CAM performance

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.75
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Overclock: 9.50
  • Value: 8.75

Final Score: 9.3 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

Nomination: 2009 Editor's Choice Award for Enthusiast Processors.

Questions? Comments? Benchmark Reviews really wants your feedback. We invite you to leave your remarks in our Discussion Forum.


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Comments 

 
# DDR2???Rapture 2010-03-10 06:06
Why would you test AMD's flagship processor with DDR2 memory??? You're practically giving Intel's i5 processor the edge in all the benchmarks!
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# Not reallyOlin Coles 2010-03-10 07:15
Since the DDR2 we tested was the same speed as the DDR3 there wouldn't be any noticeable difference, let alone a measurable one. I suggest that you read our "DDR3 RAM: System Memory Technology Explained" article located at benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=174&Itemid=38

Even if they both used the exact same memory kit for each system, the Intel i5 would still have the advantage of an integrated multimedia controller directly on the CPU.
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# A little Deceptive ....James Smith 2010-03-27 02:57
Care to Re-Run those Benchmarks with the i5 @ 4ghz and Amd 965 both at 4ghz? Clock for Clock AMD does less ,it's Just the Way it is ...Amd is for Budget gamers and intel is for Enthusiasts (with money),Simple...(I'm not a "Fan Boy" ) I've bought Both...
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# huh?wipeout 2010-06-07 16:05
the phenom 2 has a memory controller directly on the cpu. didnt you know this?
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# RE: huh?Olin Coles 2010-06-07 16:09
Yes, I know this... it's in all of our reviews. Did you mean the the integrated multimedia controller? That's what I had referred to.
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# overclocking to 4.0mark 2010-06-12 09:06
i have the same CPU as you do. i have a h50 CPU cooler, 2X2gb g-skill of ram, 1tb caviar black and ASUS M4A78T-E motherboard. i've been looking for the right settings to put in my bios, but never succeeded. whenever i would run a stress test it would crash after a few seconds. usually in order for it to be stable, the test has to run for an hour or 2. mind helping me out?
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# What are your settings?Olin Coles 2010-06-12 09:42
You really didn't give us any usable information, such as voltage and BIOS settings.
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE 125W CPU HDZ965FBK4DGMmark 2010-06-14 21:46
woops, my bad. voltage: 1.5 - bus: 200 - multiplier: 20 and the rest is set to Auto.
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# RE: RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-965 BE 125W CPU HDZ965FBK4DGMOlin Coles 2010-06-15 06:57
Take a look at this overclocking guide: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=162
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