by Rob Williams on September 2, 2009 in 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.
It goes without saying that power efficiency is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds today, and for good reason. Whether you are trying to save money or the environment – or both – it’s good to know just how much effort certain vendors are putting into their products to help them excel in this area. Both AMD and Intel have worked hard to develop efficient chips, and that’s evident with each new launch. The CPUs are getting faster, and use less power, and hopefully things will stay that way.
To help see what kind of wattage a given processor draws on average, we use a Kill-A-Watt that’s plugged into a power bar that’s in turn plugged into one of the wall sockets, with the test system plugged directly into that. The monitor and other components are plugged into the other socket and is not connected to the Kill-A-Watt. For our system specifications, please refer to our methodology page.
To test, the computer is first boot up and left to sit at idle for five minutes, at which point the current wattage is recorded if stable. To test for full CPU load, IntelBurnTest is run with maximum memory stress for a total of five minutes. During that run, the highest point the wattage reaches on the meter is captured and becomes our “Max Load”. For i7, we use eight instances of SP2004 instead of IntelBurnTest, as the latter is not yet fully compatible with the newer processors.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the power consumption reports for the 955 (that will change as we’re in the process of doing a complete overhaul on our processor methodology), but the 965 BE actually didn’t perform too badly here. It could have course be better given the performance scaling, but it’s hardly anything to put much thought into.
As I touched on in a news posting the other day, playing with the latest hardware for a living doesn’t bring on much of a complaint. But, I think most people in a similar situation would agree… speed-bumped products aren’t too exciting. After all, that’s all they are… a slightly version of a product we already used months ago. Where the 965 Black Edition is concerned, nothing changes.
That’s not to say that the latest model out of AMD isn’t worth much of a comment though. It replaces the 955 BE, after all, and for the same price. So, you get 200MHz more, for free. The power consumption is undoubtedly a little bit higher, but that’s no surprise given that it’s faster and built using already-established architectures. This is a speed bump, and uses more power than the 955 – it’s a no-brainer.
But as this CPU currently sells for around ~$240, it’s great competition to the Q9550 from Intel, at ~$220. AMD’s CPU is $20 more expensive, but throughout all of our tests, it proved to be the faster chip overall, and the gains were usually worth that extra $20. So for a new PC build, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Phenom X4 965. It might just be a speed bump, but it offers a great value.
So what’s next for AMD? Well, there’s nothing on the horizon that’s likely to make Intel shake in their boots, but again, AMD strives for offering the better value, and they may just take the cake in a few weeks. We can’t talk much about it now, but stay tuned for a Quad-Core review in the coming weeks that should really redefine processor value.
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