Review: Too hot, too power hungry, too expensive
Eleven days ago AMD launched the Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition. This is just a speed bump of the already known 955 Black Edition. So you get the same CPU but 200MHz faster, 3.4GHz, 4x512kB L2 Cache, 6MB L3 Cache and increased TDP of 140W.
While we would have liked to publish the review on AMD's release day, we got delayed because of a new BIOS version and for preparation of the 785G tests with the new Catalyst 9.8. So all benches had to be re-benched. Now we take a look if AMD is successful with the new offering.
MSI 790GX-GD70 (provided by MSI)
MSI DKA790GX (provided by MSI)
Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P (provided by Gigabyte)
Intel DX58SO "Smackover" (provided by Intel)
AMD Phenom II 705e (provided by AMD)
AMD Phenom II 905e (provided by AMD)
AMD Phenom II 720 Black Edition (provided by AMD)
AMD Phenom II 810 (provided by AMD)
AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition (provided by AMD)
Intel E7200 (provided by K&M Elektronik)
Intel E8400 (provided by Intel)
Intel Q9450 (provided by Intel)
Intel QX9650 (provided by Intel)
Intel Core i7 920 (provided by Intel)
Intel Core i7 975XE (provided by Intel)
Scythe Kabuto (provided by Scythe-Europe) for AMD and Intel E/Q
Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme 1366 (provided by Thermalright) for Intel i7
Kingston 2GB Kit PC2-9600U KHX1200D2K2/2G (provided by Kingston)
1066MHz CL5-5-5-15 CR2T at 1.90V for AMD DDR2
Qimonda 3GB Kit PC3-8500U (provided by Qimonda)
1066MHz CL7-7-7-20 CR1T at 1.55V for Intel i7
Kingston 3GB Kit PC3-10600U KHX1600D3K3/2GX (provided by Kingston)
1333MHz CL7-7-7-20 CR1T at 1.50V for AMD DDR3
1600MHz CL8-8-8-23 CR1T at 1.60V for AMD DDR3 FSB overclocking
MSI R4850-2D1G-OC (provided by MSI)
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W (provided by PC Power & Cooling)
Samsung F1 1000GB (provided by Ditech)
SilenX iXtrema Pro 14dB(A) (provided by PC-Cooling.at)
Cooler Master Stacker 831 Lite (provided by Cooler Master)
Since we are still not fans of Vista, all tests are performed with XP SP3. As 64-bit software is still not very common, we stick with the 32-bit version.
Here are the first CPU-Z screenshots of the 965BE. As you can see the VCore also got bumped up to quite unbelievable 1.4000V. And yes, this is a 45nm CPU.
For some reason AMD believes it has to use such huge voltages, but we can prove them wrong. We managed the same speed with 1.2500VCore this is a more than 10% decrease.
With that huge VCore the CPU goes up to 3.70GHz without a problem, nd we expected nothing less. Of course this CPU is also limited about 3.80GHz. We managed a stable 3840MHz clock with FSB overclocking to squeeze out more performance due to HT- and memory-overclocking too.
Our benchmarks are quite self-explanatory. Nothing new here. While the overclocking between 3.70GHz and 3.84GHz is not a huge difference, especially in the x264 bench, the also overclocked HT and memory makes a huge difference.
3DMark 2003 run at 1600x1200, 3DMark 2006 used defaults. As you can see, more CPU muscle doesn't really help. AMD has positioned the triple-cores against Intel's dual-core offerings, and as you can see in FarCry2 the third core does help to keep Intel in check, even though this game is clearly not optimized for AMD.
With the VCore bump to 1.400V, the power-consumption goes sky-high. While AMD makes some ground with idle-power, the power-consumption with Cinebench and full load beats even Intels i7.
With the new 965 Black Edition, AMD wants to close the gap on Intel. While the performance is ok as expected, the power consumption is off the charts. For some reason AMD decided to bump the VCore 1.4000V which, in our opinion, is an unnecessary precaution to make sure any 965 Black Edition is capable to reach the speed. We could manage with 1.2500VCore and we think a moderate VCore of 1.3250V would have been enough.
The new CPU is available for about €205. The former top product the 955 Black Edition is much cheaper for about €156. As we have proved in our 955 Black Edition article, the former CPU can reach 3.40GHz easily. We are not impressed with the new AMD offering, it gets too hot for our taste, 200MHz increase cost you 25% more compared to the 955 BE. So, for the time being we recommend you stick with the 955 Black Edition.