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Written by Hank Tolman   
Tuesday, 03 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

AMD Phenom-II X4-980 Final Thoughts

I have to be honest. Four months after the release of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, I am a little bit disappointed to be reviewing another Phenom-II series processor. Historically, the Phenom-II X4-900 series lineup has done very well against the competition when it comes to the ratio of price/performance. With the release of the Sandy Bridge CPUs, this is no longer the case. In our testing, the Phenom-II X4-980BE wasn't able to keep up with the Intel Core i5-2500K. The K suffix means little since we used an H67 motherboard for testing, so what we are really looking at is a $195 CPU failing to compete with a $210 CPU. In my opinion, that extra $15 is worth it.

Now, it's true that you will have to spend a lot more than that to upgrade to a Sandy Bridge system, because you'll need a motherboard as well (assuming you already own DDR3 RAM). In that case, the only way the Phenom-II X4-980BE makes financial sense is if you already own an AM2+ or an AM3 motherboard and RAM and just want to go with a faster processor. Even if that is the case, I still have to recommend an older Phenom-II X4-900 series processor because the relative performance doesn't justify the price difference, especially if you plan on overclocking.

The real question is, will the purchase of the Phenom-II X4-980BE have any value at all in the coming months. AMD is close to releasing their desktop Fusion platforms. If they plan on staying competitive at all, they need to get it out here soon. At this point, I can't justify recommending buying a brand new system with AMD components. Only an upgrade of an existing system makes sense.

This is difficult for me to say because I am a big fan of the Athlon-II and Phenom-II series of processors (the Athlon-II series more so). While the Phenom-II series never provided the highest level of performance that you could find with an Intel CPU, the price made it worth it. When you broke it down to dollars and cents, anyone but a hard-core enthusiast would have been better off financially buying an AMD system. At the sub-$200 level, the best values, in my opinion, were AMD CPUs.

Even now, for a very budget-level build, an Athlon-II CPU is probably your best bet to get the most performance for around $100. I do, of course, consider the Phenom-II X4-840 and subsequent 800 series processors to be Athlon-II CPUs and not Phenom-IIs as their names suggest. At around $100 for a quad-core CPU that will do everything an entry-level user needs, these are still a great deal. Not so with the Phenom-II X4-900 series anymore.

My sincere recommendation? Save your money. I'd give AMD another quarter to get their newest product on the market. You can bet that Benchmark Reviews will be there with information on the new platform. At that point, we will see whether or not an AMD system is worth it anymore. If it takes more than another quarter to get the new platform out, I think AMD is going to be on thin ice.



# 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 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.

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