AMD has revised its current flagship CPU, the
Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition into a slimmer electricity sipping 125W model, down from the initial 140W TDP processor released earlier this year.
Since this is a refresh, there are only a
few differences between the otherwise identical CPUs. New to the "C3" 125W revision AMD Phenom II
X4 965 Black Edition is hardware implementation of the C1E enhanced halt
state; basically a tool in the CPU power saving chest to reduce clock speeds on
the fly (when the PC is idle) and significantly lower power consumption.
The other minor change is better support for four sticks of DDR3-1333 RAM.
The 125W and 140W AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE processors can be
differentiated by the code number etched on the lid of the processor
if you need to know. The code etched onto the lid of the 140W TDP processors
ends in "I" whereas that number on the 125W TDP chips is
In most other respects the quad core 3.4GHz Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 125W revision remains the same. The architecture is "Deneb", the socket is AM3 and the CPU still
features 6MB of shared L3 and 512KB of L2 cache for each of the four cores. The Phenom
II's multi-core design promotes a larger L3 cache that feeds faster L2 caches
for the individual cores, a balance that improves multi-threading performance.
The processor's HyperTransport 3.0 link continues to operates at 4.0GHz, and its
on-board 128-bit wide memory controller runs at 2GHz, the same as its
With the 125W TDP revision chip obviously comes lower
heat output, boding well for overclocking potential. Like all of
AMD's Black Edition processors, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W)
features an unlocked multiplier that makes overclocking as fun as driving down
the Autobahn at 300Kmh! You might recall that PCSTATS took the Phenom II 965
Black Edition 140W CPU from 3.4GHz up to 3.93GHz in our overclocking experiments. We'll have to
see if the added headroom allows the 965 BE 125W to break the 4GHz mark!
||AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Processor
Phenom II X4 965 Black
Clock: 3.4 GHz
L1: 4x 128KB
Socket: AM3 (AM2+)
Cost: $195 USD
Manufactured by Global Foundries FAB 1 in Dresden
Germany, the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition (125W) contains 758 million
transistors on a die 258mm2 in size. The CPU is compatible with the
Hypertransport 3.0 specification, operating with a 16-bit link at 2.0GHz up and
down stream. Total system bandwidth rises to 37.3GB/s on DDR3 platforms,
33.1GB/s for DDR2 systems.
AMD designed the
Phenom II processor family to make an easy transition from older socket AM2 and AM2+ computers
to socket AM3 CPUs and DDR3-based motherboards. The Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
(125W) is built for socket AM3 motherboards, but can be dropped into socket
AM2+ motherboard, switching between its embedded DDR2 and DDR3 memory
With a suggested retail price of $199 CDN ($195 USD, £117 GBP)
, the 3.4GHz Phenom II
X4 965 Black Edition (125W) is priced just below Intel's Core i5
750, the entry-level model for Intel's socket 1156 processor lineup.
PCSTATS will be putting these two processors head-to-head along with other processor heavyweights like the Intel Core i7 920.
First though, lets take a look at what else AMD is doing to sweeten the deal
for Phenom II owners...
AMD's Dragon Platform
a few months ago AMD brought out its Dragon platform, a combination of
its new Phenom II processors, socket AM3 motherboards, and Radeon 48XX series of videocards.
AMD is back with a few more upgrades to their arsenal. The
newish Dragon platform consists of the AMD Radeon 5850 videocard, AMD's socket AM3 motherboards,
and Phenom II line of processors.
AMD is looking to make the 'Dragon' system platform into more than just an
assortments of parts that share the same marketing label. While there still
aren't any special hardware features that become unlocked from combining Phenom
CPUs, Radeon videocards and socket AM3 motherboards together, AMD has crafted
new software tools aimed directly at overclockers and enthusiasts.
software has recently been updated to version 3.1. Overdrive
is designed to make overclocking AMD CPUs and GPUs easier and more accessible.
While both NVIDIA and Intel offer tools which enable overclocking from within
Windows Vista and Windows 7, the range or depth of options provided by AMD
Overdrive is not matched.
The new AMD Overdrive 3.1 software introduces new
CPU profiles for certain AMD processor models, better Cool'n'Quiet support and
improved Smart Profile support. It also adds more Black Edition Memory
Black Edition Memory Profiles (BEMP) are similar to Intel's Extreme Memory
Profiles. AMD has collaborated with major memory vendors so that selected sets
of high-frequency memory can work at the most aggressive frequencies and
latencies, the way the engineers intended. BEMP will automatically adjust AMD
Overdrive once compatible memory is detected to take full advantage of faster
AMD Overdrive - Smart
Smart Profiles are a dynamic
load balancing and overclocking tool built into the AMD Overdrive application.
When the Overdrive software detects that a game has been launched, it can
optimize the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 125W processor to utilize an
appropriate amount of processor cores for that game profile.
The Smart Profiles settings
for 3DMark 2006.
In certain games that only take advantage of two
processing threads, the Overdrive utility will underclock the two unutilized
processor cores, and increase the frequency of the two cores the game is using.
This entire process is done automatically, so the user doesn't have to worry
about turning profiles on or off before gaming - although the profiles must
exist for the game in question.
In PCSTATS testing, the Smart
Profiles were able to create some gains using the bundled profiles for 3Dmark06
and Crysis, in the range of about 3% to 5%. It's also possible to create custom
profiles for any other software application you select, and for owners of Black
Edition CPUs the individual core multipliers can be adjusted to set faster
speeds for active cores, and lower speeds of the inactive cores, which will
AMD Overdrive 3.1 + Black Edition Memory Profiles
Black Edition Memory Profiles are
a new feature to AMD Overdrive. It's AMD's way of getting the
most out of high-performance DDR3 memory paired with, you guessed it,
a Black Edition processor. AMD has an online database
with presets for the fastest memory timings for high frequency memory modules.
BEMP is exclusive to socket AM3 motherboards, and supported platforms will
detect compatible memory and connect to the internet to download an XML profile
with the appropriate memory timings - this means profiles can be rapidly
updated, revised and included.
AMD Overdrive 3.1 software can
tune the memory timings on the fly, as well as automatically boost the CPU
northbridge frequency and voltage. The entire system is similar to Intel's XMP,
but could potentially be more versatile since it does not rely on the embedded
SPD profile of the installed memory.
BEMP removes a
lot of the guesswork of selecting balanced memory speeds and timings, resulting in
a one-click solution that simply boosts performance. Fighting with the BIOS over
memory timings is not fun... while it's possible to manually tune CAS values up to the levels
that BEMP selects, it takes a while for us to get the
PC stable and to the point where performance exceeds the built-in memory profiles. While
overall neither approach results in huge gains, it's free and very easy to
PCSTATS will be overclocking the Phenom II X4 965BE
for certain, but next up are the total system power draw tests...