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Written by Hank Tolman   
Tuesday, 04 January 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Phenom-II X4-975BE
Testing and Results
AIDA64 Extreme Edition v1.1 Benchmark Tests
Passmark PerformanceTest
PCMark Vantage Benchmark Tests
SiSoftware Sandra
Cinebench R11.5 Benchmarks
Street Fighter IV Benchmark
Video Transcoding Tests
AMD Phenom-II X4-975BE Final Thoughts
AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BE Conclusion

Closer Look: Phenom-II X4-975BE

The Phenom-II Black Edition processors were made for overclockers. A main concern for overclockers is always cooling. In order to push a CPU to a higher clock speed and therefore to better performance, you have to be able to keep it cool. With that in mind, the quite large 1.47" x 1.47" (37.31 x 37.31mm) heat-spreader surface area of the Phenom-II AM3 design is great for helping to dissipate excess heat. This design provides about 71% more contact surface area than recent Core i5 processors and 24% more contact surface area than Core i7 processors. With the right cooling hardware, this surface area can be taken advantage of and will allow for better overclocking.


The technical specifications for the Phenom-II X4-975BE haven't changed from previous releases of the Phenom-II X4 series; except for the 100MHz bump in clock speed, of course. The Phenom-II X4-975BE still has a nominal voltage of 0.825-1.4v and it is compatible with memory up to DDR3-1333MHz and DDR2-1066MHz. Though built on the AM3 938-pin micro pin grid array, the Phenom-II X4-975BE, like all other Athlon-II and Phenom-II processors, is backwards compatible with the AM2+ socket. Following all current AMD processors, the Phenom-II X4-975BE is built on a 45nm process. This process is becoming quite dated in the computer hardware industry as Intel has been using a smaller, 32nm process for quite some time now.


The Phenom-II series is AMD's upper echelon of CPUs and the processors differ from the lower, Athlon-II series CPUs mainly because of the addition of the L3 cache. The Phenom-II X4-975BE has a total L3 cache of 6MB shared across all four processor cores. In addition, the X4-975BE has an L2 cache of 512KB per core for a total of 2MB and an L1 cache of 512KB, 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core.

As the New Year begins, Intel is starting to release their new lineup of CPUs with the Sandy Bridge platform. Given the hype this platform has caused, it would seem like AMD is in trouble of losing the inexpensive price market. For quite a while now, AMD has been releasing processors that can outperform similarly priced Intel CPUs. In this article, we will be using one of the new Sandy Bridge processors that is being released at a similar price point to the Phenom-II X4-975BE to see how the two compare. The Phenom-II X4-975BE is set to release at $195, while the Intel Core i5-6500 is set to be released at $205. (We used the i5-6500K, but without being overclocked, it should be equal in performance to a normal i5-6500.)


Recently, nearly all of AMD's processors have proven to be great at overclocking, even those that are not Black Edition CPUs. I expected the same out of the Phenom-II X4-975BE, although it should be even easier to push this CPU due to the unlocked multiplier. The fact of the matter is, I was only able to push the Phenom-II X4-975BE from it's stock clock of 3.6GHz to a stable overclock of 4.0GHz. That's about an 11% increase in clock speed, which isn't terrible. We were able to push the other Phenom-II processor released today from 3.2GHz to 3.9GHz. That's an increase of almost 22%, nearly double the headroom we found in the Phenom-II X4-975BE. There is probably some explanation of this in the fact that the Phenom-II X4 series has been releasing updated processors using the same build now for quite a long time. Most of these processors have been able to overclock stably to about the 4.0GHz area. The X4-975BE, being a later-generation Phenom-II X4 processor, likely shouldn't have as much headroom as previous versions.

Many of our readers have recently asked me about undervolting a CPU in order to make it as utility friendly as possible. Not much is getting cheaper these days, and the price of electricity is on the list of utilities that continue to increase in price and make our lives that much more stressful. When a CPU can run at stock speeds but on less voltage than it is set for, you will see a decrease in the amount of energy the processor uses. With the Phenom-II X4-975BE processor, I was able to set the voltage to 1.2v, down from a normal 1.4v, and run it stably at stock speeds.


Since the Phenom-II X4-975BE comes with an unlocked multiplier, I started off the overclocking simply by incrementally increasing the CPU multiplier. The Phenom-II X4-975BE already starts with a very high CPU multiplier of x18. I moved the multiplier up by x1 at a time until I could no longer boot into Windows. I reached that point at a multiplier of x22. This put the Phenom-II X4-975BE at an amazing 4.4GHz. However, while I could get into Windows, the 975BE didn't withstand the stress testing I talk about in the testing methodology section. I started moving down the multiplier again by x0.5 at a time until the Phenom-II X4-975BE until the CPU passed the stress tests.

With a multiplier of x19.5 and the base clock still at 200MHz, the Phenom-II X4-975BE passed the stress testing. This put the CPU at 3.9GHz. That's a nice clock speed, but I wanted to get more out of the Phenom-II X4-975BE. I started increasing the base clock from 200MHz by an additional 5MHz. I only got to 210MHz before the Phenom-II X4-975BE failed the stress testing again. The highest stable overclock I could find was with the CPU multiplier at x19.5 and the base clock at 205MHz. I had to boost the CPU voltage to 1.6v to get to this level. This gave me an overclock of 4.0GHz, only 11% faster than the stock speeds.



# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BE CPU HDZ975FBK4DGMDoug 2011-01-04 05:10
Yep. I concur and here is a little testing I did while reading your article:
CPU CPU Clock Motherboard Chipset Memory CL-RCD-RP-RAS Score
4x Core i7 920 HT 3800 MHz Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5 v2 X58 Triple DDR3-1448 8-8-8-24 CR2
This is a Bloomfield chip.

Passmark 7
CPU Mark: 7884
Memory Mark: 3263
Street Fighter IV: 8934
AVI: 84
MP4: 34

And note that although the 975BE @ 4Ghz comes close to the stock 920 in Queen, it's still about 6% slower and in Photoworxx a full 30%+ slower. That at 4Ghz the best of AMD can only muster what a now lowly 920 can do at 2.66Ghz is pretty sad.
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# SAD You say??Toeringsandthong 2011-02-03 04:42
Hers some food for thought ! whats sad is paying alot more for 920 when you dont have too ! think about it fanboy !
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BEMack 2011-01-04 07:50
Nice review. Thanks for the comparison CPU choices as well.
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BE CPU HDZ975FBK4DGMAthlonite 2011-01-04 18:28
pretty much this CPU has been put out there for us AM2+ users who don't want to OC or don't want x6 10xx CPU's but would like a little more power.... I can't see why any serious upgrader would buy this right before the release of bulldozer based CPU's
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# RE: RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BE CPU HDZ975FBK4DGMAthlonite 2011-01-04 18:35
Oh and I cant believe that my #ty old PII x4 940BE @ 3.4GHz beat out the x4 840 in every test in AIDA64
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# It should beat the 840Hank 2011-01-05 07:35
The X4-840 isn't really a Phenom-II Chip, it's an Athlon-II with the name Phenom-II. The 840 doesn't have any L3 cache and is built on a Propus die. Also, at $102, its a lot cheaper than any of the Phenom-II X4 processors. That your X4-940BE beats it isn't all that surprising.

Feel free to read my review of the Phenom-II X4-840 as well --
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-975 BE CPU HDZ975FBK4DGMnormal 2011-01-05 00:44
I'm very sorry to read this article and still the author is so bent on Intel that he passes the fact that the new Intel chip can't even run on Linux.AMD still does.You so called Intel superchip is'n't that far in front of the 975BE.Only in the encryption it's got some advantages thanks to a lot of compiler tricks.But in plain battlefield Intel sucks big time.Even in the game it loses to an old phenom 2 architecture.Don't teint the truth by using words. Intel sucks!!!!!!!AMD rules!!!!!
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# Read the articleHank 2011-01-05 07:37
If you would have read the article, you would see that I said I preferred the Phenom-II X4-975BE as a gaming CPU over the i5-2500K. Also, the margins were anywhere from 8% to 35% without counting the AES test. I also stated that prior to the Sandy Bridge release, I preferred the ATHLON-II series over the i5 chips. Read the article next time, not just the last page.
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# 975 BE for now, Bulldozer later...nt300 2011-01-05 07:50
There's no bias within this article as some of you may think. Anyway great review and a very good upgrade path for people wanting to stick to the AM2+ and AM3 platforms. I am waiting for Bulldozer, though I would get this chip just to buy me some time in between, but it has to be dirt cheap $$$...
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# MotherboardJosé Luiz 2011-03-06 06:22
I believe the 975 AMD processor is excellent, I would buy one but can not find the motherboard for this processor. Unfortunately, there is the motherboard for this processor on the market.
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# RE: MotherboardOrville 2011-03-06 08:45
You can use any AM3 motherboard for this processor. There are many models available.
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# 975BE BESTGodless 2011-10-05 03:39
I think its good to buy this 3.6 GHZ CPU because it runs like hell ^^ its better than a dream ^^
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# RE: 975BE BESTAthlonite 2011-10-05 06:18
Really you'd spend the extra over an x4 965 or an 955 for that matter

965 + 300MHz OC = stock 975BE and it's the same deneb die you only going to get out of a 975BE what would be attainable from an 965 + a descent cooler
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