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Written by Hank Tolman   
Monday, 02 May 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
AMD Phenom-II X4-980 BE Processor
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Phenom-II X4-980BE
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 X4-980 Final Thoughts
AMD Phenom-II X4-980 Conclusion

Closer Look: Phenom-II X4-980BE

The Black Edition moniker tells us that the Phenom-II X4-980BE is ready for overclocking, and that's exactly what we are going to do with it. Before we get to that, let's look at the basics of the Phenom-II X4-980BE.

The Athlon-II and Phenom-II CPUs are 45nm CPUs. That generation of CPUs, both on the Intel and the AMD side, tended to run quite a bit hotter than newer 32nm CPUs, especially the Sandy Bridge CPUs. That heat generation is a big concern for potential overclocking. Just because the CPU says it's Black Edition doesn't mean you can crank the multiplier up and run it as high as you want. The Phenom-II CPUs also had a little bit more surface area than the 45nm Intel processors; about 24% more. The Phenom-II X4-980 has a heat-spreader surface area of 1.47" x 1.47" (37.31 x 37.31mm). Aftermarket CPU cooler manufacturers can take advantage of that extra surface area in order to cool the CPUs a little better.

Phenom_II_X4_980_CPU.jpg

Getting a little further into the technical details, the Phenom-II X4-980BE has a nominal voltage of 0.825-1.4v. It comes out of the box taking about 1.4v, a little more than Intel CPUs, but it can be undervolted for the energy conscious consumer. Normally, I've been able to get the Phenom-II CPUs to be stable on about 1.20-1.25v. With the higher stock multiplier, the Phenom-II X4-980BE resides at the top end of that. I successfully undervolted it at stock speeds to 1.25v. On the flip-side, I pushed the voltage up to 1.60v during overclocking.

Phenom_II_X4_980BE_Side.jpg

The Phenom-II X4-980BE is built on the AM3 938-pin micro grid array like all other Athlon-II and Phenom-II processors. This means it was meant for an AM3 motherboard. However, one of the things that has kept me a fan of AMD is that their newer processors have been backwards compatible with the AM2+ socket. This means you don't have to upgrade motherboard, RAM, CPU, and cooler all at once. That's nice for users on a budget. Unfortunately, this isn't going to be the case with the release of the AMD Fusion platforms in Bulldozer and Llano. Since they will be going to a 32nm fabrication process, a new motherboard will be necessary.

http://benchmarkreviews.com/images/reviews/processor/HDZ560WFK2DGM/Phenom-II_X2-560BE_CPU_Die.jpg

I have had great success overclocking AMD Athlon-II and Phenom-II processors. For their generation, the Phenom-IIs had some of the best overclocking potential available. This has changed a little with the release of the Sandy Bridge CPUs and with the incremental stock speed upgrades of the Phenom-II CPUs. The Phenom-II X4-900 series Black Edition CPUs have all been able to overclock pretty reliably to around 4.0GHz. That was true of those with stock clocks from 3.2GHz all the way to stock clocks of 3.6GHz. The reason for that is that all those CPUs are pretty much identical. The only difference is the stock clock speed set at the factory by the stock multiplier. As the stock speed increases, the overclocking potential decreases.

Phenom_II_X4_840_Graphic.jpg

The other reason why overclocks up to 4.0GHz are not as impressive is due to the recent overclocking of the Sandy Bridge CPUs. Although much more restricted, the Sandy Bridge CPUs have been able to reach up to 5.0GHz overclocked speeds on air alone and the heat they produce at those speeds is much less than that of the Phenom-II CPUs fully overclocked. It's true that those speeds are really only Turbo Boost speeds because of the overclock restrictions of the Sandy Bridge CPUs and the P67-Express chipset, but even so, it makes the 4.0GHz of the Phenom-II series look outdated.

With the Phenom-II X4-980BE CPU I had very minimal time to overclock. I didn't spend as much time or effort on it as I would have liked, but I was still able to overclock it very well. I incrementally bumped up the unlocked multiplier on the Phenom-II X4-980BE and stressed it with Prime95 running on all four cores. While I normally like to run this for 12 hours to ensure stability, I only did it for 6 hours this time, due to time constraints. Still, it is rare that a CPU lasting 6 hours won't make it to 12 hours. Without increasing the voltage on the CPU, I was able to get the multiplier only to x19.5 for a clock speed of 3.9GHz. That's an overclock of about 5%. I'm looking for a little more.

Phenom_II_X4_980_CPUZ_OC.png

In order to get more, I increased the CPU voltage to 1.6v and then started moving up the multiplier again. I reached a stable overclock of the Phenom-II X4-980BE at a multiplier of x20.5 and a core speed of 4.1GHz. That's a much more impressive overclock of nearly 11%, the same as we were able to pull out of the Phenom-II X4-975BE. It seems like 4.0Ghz is about the threshold for these CPUs, and while you may be able to get a little higher, you will undoubtedly have to use a lot of extra voltage and you will need a lot of extra cooling. For my setup, I used the Scythe Mugen-II CPU cooler, one of the highest rated coolers from Benchmark Reviews Executive Editor's Best CPU Cooler Performance: Intel Q3-2010 article.



 

Comments 

 
# Real World TestChiz 2011-05-03 00:33
Has BMR used the real world test? How about playing a game+converting a video+using FB with flash games+Anti-virus doing scan and all of them running simultaneously. You'll have a different result on AMD performance! I'll be waiting...
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# RE: Real World TestComputer Ed 2011-05-03 04:19
You consider that a "real world" test? Seriously? I know a lot of gamers and I have never met one that would allow an AV scan while gaming, let alone doing a video conversion at the same time, not if you want to really enjoy the gaming experience.

Your so called test is FAR from a real world experience.
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# Gaming + Video ConvertingLucas 2011-05-03 13:36
Hey, folks, i live in brazil (so i pay way more than you for the same piece of hardware) and is very common for me play while video converting. Yes, i don it but only in some games. I wouldn't do it in a title that uses 4 threads, but less demanding games (dual threaded or single threaded) are easy for my Phenom II. I usually convert videos to my mobile, when i'm travelling or i'm in a line, i like to watch some series, and i convert them while use computer. I really prefer doing it while i'm web surfing, but i gues that when i'm gaming and the CPU goes to fulll speed and waste 1 or 2 cores, is better, so i can keep it at 1GHz 0.775V while web surfing. I save some power i think.
By tha way my processor is Phenom II X3 720BE works rock solid , and .
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# Me Too!Upfront 2011-05-07 23:59
I do those all the time,LMAO! Maybe I'm a freak but I do! Glad to read about fellow freaks. I scan, convert Movies, watch Hulu or Netflix, watch Al Jazeera live stream (use mute sometimes or low volume), Maybe instead play music from Pandora and play games such as Metro 2033, Crysis, Dirt 3 on Steam all at the same time. Two other friends of mine are the same crazy but true.
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# That's not real-worldOlin Coles 2011-05-03 07:33
That's not a real-world test at all. In fact, I don't know anyone who has, or ever will, do all of those things at once. Additionally, the AV test would depend more on the system drive than a processor, bringing another hardware component into consideration.
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# Not quite... but almostStefan 2011-05-03 07:58
I'm running an AMD dual-proc & dual-core server and will occasionally game on it (which I shouldn't, but sometimes it's just convenient).

Major running tasks include 2 Minecraft servers, a daily (at 12pm) backup from one hard drive to 2 others (Acronis Backup & Restore 10), AVG Business Pro in the background and a Minecraft render (renders an overview map to a Google Maps interface) every hour.

I will occasionally run the Minecraft client & FRAPS together on the same machine.

This is on older generation (socket 940) gear so... maybe I'm not quite mainstream real-world, but I would consider game+AV+video convert as not /too/ far removed from the kind of workload I would put my AMD system through.

My current system copes beautifully, by the way. It would just be nice to see how modern hardware performs.
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# Not quite but almostChiz 2011-05-03 22:43
Thanks Stefan! That's what I'm trying to point out in the real world test. CineBench and the rest of the gang test our PC from Processor to Memory. Which would give Intel results a very nice advantage. But in the real world most of the task are running from Proc to Northbridge and/or Southbridge. That's AMD's area. BTW Using AMD 645 on Asus 785 Shogun 2 at standard res, AV running, Flash games running at low res. Running without lag. If I have a six core I could do more but I need to add a secondary hard disk.
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# A case of too fast?Stefan 2011-05-05 10:52
Real-world these days really does come down to multi-tasking, I think. In years gone by, you wouldn't dream of burning a CD whilst playing Quake unless you had expensive SCSI kit.

Throwing 2 or 3 'big' tasks at a system is the only way to know how well it really performs. CPU's have generally been 'fast enough' for 2 years. The only consumer-level task bottlenecked by CPU power is video converting and, really, how many consumers actually do that?

Gaming is limited by GPU and just about everything else gets stuck trickling through a SATA cable or wobbling around in a mostly circular fashion on a hard disk platter, waiting patiently for a read/write head to give it some attention.

So, can a system cope with playing Battlefield whilst your iPod video conversion, Torrent download, CD audio rip and BOINC job is running? Inquiring minds want to know.
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# A case of too fast?Christopher Fields 2011-05-05 22:11
I believe any AM3 Black Edition Quad core and above can do all of the above along with the whole line up of Core i5 and i7 series processors. The only difference will be how fast it gets done. True hard core multi tasking freaks are using Solid State HDD's which also make a big difference in these chores compared to yesterdays bottle necks hard drives. Sure you could run some WD Raptors in Raid and get great performance but you also got heat! I Currently have 2x G-Skill 128gig in Raid 0 and today just received my 3x G.SKILL Phoenix Pro Series SSD's that I am also running in raid 0 for my converting jobs. So far I am reading around 900MB/s and writing at a solid 730MB/s. I rar'd a 5gig file in 2 min into the tightest compression possible shrinking it to 3.4gig and then unzipped it in less than 21 seconds. Now that kicks butt!
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# RE: That's not real-worldChristopher Fields 2011-05-03 08:14
I agree, and BTW, Intel Fanboy (Chiz), your "Real World Test" isn't real at all. I am a gamer, I convert DVD's/Blu-Ray and guess what, I run Anti-Virus and I have never done all of those with my...............here it comes........Intel Core i7 950, why? You might ask, because it doesn't make sense and your bottleneck for the most part would be your hard drives. I own 3 machines running the AM3 965 Processor and 1 running a 2500k and then my i7 950, they all run great and even better they honestly play games the same. The Intels are faster at video converting etc but most people who don't run SSD hard drives wont even notice. Can we get some "Real World Comments" here.........please?
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# It's realChiz 2011-05-03 22:10
That's the difference between AMD and other procies. In AMD you can do all of this without any lag. Try it with your I7 and see the results.
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# RE:It's realChristopher Fields 2011-05-03 23:17
I have an AM3 965BE with 8gig of ram and 2x 128gig SSD's in Raid 0 with 2x 5850's in Xfire. I can convert my videos with DivX converter and Play Battlefield Bad Company 2 without any Video Lag or any lag for that matter. I have my game cranked to 1920x1080 all maxed out! I can do the same with my i7 950 that has 2x 64gig SSD's in raid 0 and a single EVGA GTX 580 GPU & 16gig of ram. My i7 is faster at converting with DivX but if I am in a 45-60min game I don't give a crap which is faster because I am using my time the way I want to while my system is multitasking in the background. Now I am not going to argue that the AM3 is faster or better than an i7 but I build my AM3 system because of 1 major factor..............It cost 1/3 of the cost of my i7 and at the end of the day it does everything I need it to do. I build systems for a living and I always push Intel for performance users but the majority of pc users out there want a budget rig and AMD has the better option when it comes to that. Lets face it, AMD sells more performance end chips to gamers than Intel at the $100-$180 mark. Intel sells more base line processors due to stream line providers like dell, hp etc. Really there is no argument here, the new AM3 980BE will drive its predecessors down causing Intel (whether they do or not) to either lower their prices or keep them where they are at. AM3 chips are cheaper to buy, last just as long as its competitors and the motherboards for the most part kick ass at about 65% the price of a comparable Intel board.
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-980 BE ProcessorComputer Ed 2011-05-03 04:17
I have to agree with your final assessment, however there might be a consequence of this release that will help at the lower end. Before the release the 955 was going for around $140, this release could push that price down a bit more. If it does then the AThlon II (Phenom II 840) might no longer be the best budget buy,
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# RE: AMD Phenom-II X4-980 BE ProcessorRobert17 2011-05-03 04:42
Interesting timing on this release. I wonder if there is some kind of delay in Bulldozer or an oversupply of lab socks on the 45nm line?

Phenom II x4 965BE is now available for $120. The rest of the line seems to be similarly discounted around the web as well. I'm sure that AMD has a plan but wonder why the price point isn't more in line with moving silicon as a commodity at this late stage of the Phenom family tree.
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# Price at release lower than expected.Hank Tolman 2011-05-03 15:20
So, AMD released the Phenom-II X4-980BE at $185, $10 less than expected. That puts it $25 away from the i5-2500K. I still don't think that's enough to justify it, but if what Robert17 says is true about the Phenom-II X4-965BE running at $120, then that, my friends, is a good deal.

-Hank
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