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AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE review

Can AMD's ageing quad-core architecture survive against newer rivals?

Survival for AMD's Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition is all about careful positioning in the price lists. Going by our multi-threaded benchmarks, you'd think AMD has nailed it. Compared to the more expensive Intel Core i5 750, the 965 returns almost identical figures in our HD video encoding and professional 3D rendering tests. Result.

That, however, is where the good news largely ends. Intel's more modern processor architecture makes for smoother gaming performance, despite the Phenom's clockspeed advantage. Likewise, the Core i5 750 completes our file decompression benchmark nearly 25 seconds faster.

Thing is, the Intel chip is not only more expensive itself, it also tends to come with higher overall platform costs. Put simply, Intel motherboards cost more. But that's not a charge you can level at the six-core AMD Phenom II X6 1055T. It drops into precisely the same AM3 CPU socket and motherboards as the 965, levelling the playing field for the two AMD chips.

More to the point, the 1055T cranks out quite a bit more performance in our HD video encoding and pro rendering benchmarks. The six-core chip definitely makes more sense for a video editing rig. The 1055T is also a little snappier in our file decompression test.

Admittedly, the higher clocked 965 does turn the table in the World of Conflict timedemo, proving that more cores often doesn't equate to better gaming performance. It's also a better overclocking chip, with this latest C3 stepping of the Deneb core hitting 4.1GHz to the 1055T's mere 3.65GHz. But as an all-round computing solution, this quad-core 965 Black Edition has been usurped by AMD's new six-core processor.

We liked:

The 965 Black Edition is AMD's most expensive quad-core processor. But it's so aggressively priced, it's yours for under £150. At 3.4GHz, the 965 is clocked pretty aggressively, too. All of which makes it very competitive with Intel's cheaper quad-core chips. Add AMD's cheaper platform pricing into the equation and the deal only looks sweeter.

We disliked:

The biggest problem for the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition comes from within. It's AMD's new six-core Phenom II X6. £10 or so seems like a good deal for a pair of extra cores. More generally, the Phenom architecture is nearing end of life. And it shows.

Verdict:

A solid quad-core processor, but the end is nigh. AMD's newer six-core is better value.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeProcessor
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Thermal Design Power125 W
Processor ManufacturerAMD
Product FamilyPhenom II X4
L3 Cache6 MB
Clock Speed3.40 GHz
Processor SocketSocket AM3 PGA-941
Brand NameAMD
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, ENERGY STAR
64-bit ProcessingYes
Thermal Specification62°C
L2 Cache2 MB
ManufacturerAdvanced Micro Devices, Inc
Product Model965
Product NamePhenom II X4 Quad-core 965 3.4GHz Processor
Product LinePhenom II X4
Input Voltage1.4 V DC
Manufacturer Part NumberHDZ965FBGMBOX
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.amd.com
Marketing Information

AMD Phenom II is for high definition entertainment, gaming, creativity, and beyond. With AMD Phenom II processors as the foundation, you'll enjoy a new level of responsiveness and visual intensity. AMD puts high definition computing within everyone's reach. AMD Phenom II processors have the power to do it all. Featuring next-generation Quad-core design, they crush even the most demanding tasks. So design it, render it, play it, create it, stream it, HD it. With AMD Phenom II processors, if you can imagine it, you can do it. AMD Phenom II processors were designed with energy efficiency in mind. Capitalizing on AMD's leadership in energy efficiency, they incorporate all of the latest technology that gives you performance when you need it and save power when you don't.

Packaged Quantity1
Process Technology45 nm
Package Contents
  • Phenom II X4 Quad-core 965 3.4GHz Processor
  • Installation Manual
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • AMD Processor Case Sticker
  • Heatsink/fan with Thermal Interface
Limited Warranty3 Year