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AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
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by Rob Williams on September 2, 2009 in AMD Processors

With Intel’s Lynnfield processors right around the corner, what better time could there be for AMD to release another speed-bumped Phenom II X4 to help remain competitive? The Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition rolls in at ~$240, and it competes very nicely with Intel’s closest competitor, and in the end, proves to offer a fantastic performance per dollar.

Introduction

Where processors are concerned, 2009 has been quite the interesting year – at least, up to this point. It’s not because either AMD or Intel have released products to blow our minds, but it’s kind of the opposite. Both companies have continued to release speed-bumped processors to compete with each other, and also lowered their prices. So while we’re not seeing a revolutionary new product, the value proposition continues to get better over time.

AMD has been having a hard time “catching up” to Intel in terms of performance, so to complete, they have little choice but to offer consumers a better value with their products. For the past while, that’s all we’ve seen being done. With each new AMD CPU launch, we’re always told which Intel processor is comparable (price-wise), so it’s clear what AMD’s current main focus is.

One thing that gave the company a better edge was the release of their Phenom II processors back in January. Those brought a few things to the table, such as faster clock speeds, and with their AM3 models, DDR3 support. Since that time, AMD has released follow-up CPUs based on the same underlying architecture, to help better compete with Intel in this on-going price war.

Closer Look at AMD’s Phenom II 965 Black Edition

That’s the idea behind the processor we’re looking at today. The X4 965 Black Edition is essentially a follow-up to the 955 Black Edition which was a follow-up to the 940 Black Edition. In all honestly, it’s a little lackluster to just see speed-bumped products being launched, but again, it all comes back to the overall value. If you get more processor for your buck, there’s going to be little room for complaint.

With the 965 Black Edition, we’re reintroduced to a stock clock speed above 3.2GHz, which in this case, is 3.4GHz. Remember the megahertz wars which went on for years prior to multi-core processors being launched? It used to be Intel with the ultra-high frequencies, and they still hold the record (that I am aware of) with their Pentium Extreme Edition 965 at 3.73GHz. Hmm, quite the ironic model number, huh?

Below is AMD’s current line-up. Other models are currently being sold, but these are the only models that the company is currently shipping out themselves.

CPU Name
Cores
Clock
Cache (L2/L3)
HT Bus
Socket
TDP
1Ku Price
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE
4
3.4GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
140W
$245
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
4
3.2GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
125W
$245
AMD Phenom II X4 945
4
3.0GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
125W
$225
AMD Phenom II X4 905e
4
2.5GHz
2+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
65W
$175
AMD Phenom II X3 720 BE
3
2.8GHz
1.5+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
95W
$145
AMD Phenom II X3 705e
3
2.5GHz
1.5+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
65W
$125
AMD Phenom X4 9650
4
2.3GHz
2+2MB
3600MHz
AM2+
95W
$112
AMD Phenom II X2 550
2
3.1GHz
1+6MB
4000MHz
AM3
80W
$105

Your eyes are not deceiving you. The cost of the 965 is identical to the 955, which was released right before the summer. Again, more performance for your buck – not a bad thing. There is one caveat, but it’s to be expected. In today’s day and age, seeing a processor with a 140W is something worth scoffing at. Intel’s top-of-the-line Core i7 is the fastest processor on the planet, yet it manages to keep things a bit tamer at 130W. And since AMD measures their wattage in ACP rather than TDP, rating in the latter would no doubt reveal an even higher number.

But any way you look at it, it’s nice to see AMD chipping away at Intel’s current domination, as it’s important for them to do so. The 965 Black Edition, priced at $245, competes closely with Intel’s $266 Q9550, so we’ll be comparing those two for the most part throughout the article. Let’s get to it!