AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE review

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

AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE
The Phenom II X4 965 BE is cheaper and clocked higher than Intel's entry level quads

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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.


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

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