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AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Hardware Review - -

Applications 8.8
Gaming 8.9
Multimedia 8.0
Value 9.0
Distributor: AMD
Review Date:
September 2009
Joel Williams


AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU

AMD have once again thrown another curve ball into the market with the introduction of their new Phenom II processor, the AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU which not only supports a powerful and sturdy quad-core unit but it runs at a lightning speed 3.4Ghz.

As per previous models, the Phenom II X4 965 is backward compatible with certain motherboards, supports DDR3 and is quite affordable and can be found around $380AUD at the time of this article. In essence, this CPU is giving Intel, their competition a true run for their money and a bigger share of the market. 

Match that with the Dragon platform and the Phenom II X4 965 is not only built for power but also speed, ensuring that gamers, designers and the like have the power available when and where it matters most. Still a little bit doubtful? Check the specifications below.


Model Number X4 965 BE
Processor Frequency 3.4GHz
L3 Cache Size 6MB L3
Nominal Voltage 0.875-1.5V

Common AM3 Specs

L1 Cache Sizes: 64K of L1 instruction and 64K of L1 data cache per core
L2 Cache Sizes: 512KB of L2 data cache per core
L3 Cache Size: 6MB (shared)
Memory Controller Type: Integrated 128-bit wide memory controller *
Memory Controller Speed: Up to 2.0GHz with Dual Dynamic Power Management (all current AM3 processors)
Types of Memory Supported: Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500 (DDR2-1066MHz) -AND- PC3 (DDR3-1333MHz)**
HyperTransport 3.0 Link: One 16-bit/16-bit link @ up to 4.0GHz full duplex (2.0GHz x2)
Total Processor Bandwidth: Up to 37.3 GB/s total bandwidth
Packaging: Socket AM3 938-pin organic micro pin grid array (micro-PGA)
Fab location: Global Foundaries Fab 1 Module 1
Process Technology: 45-nanometer DSL SOI (silicon-on-insulator) technology
Approximate Transistor count: ~ 758 million (45nm)
Approximate Die Size: 258 mm2 (45nm)
Max Ambient Case Temp / X4 CPUs: 65o Celsius
Nominal Voltage: 0.825-1.425V
Max TDP: 140 Watts 

Although the specifications are similar to the previous Phenom II processors, the main difference is of the course the processor speed which is 3.4Ghz and the TDP which has been increased to 140 Watts because of the added power consumption of a faster core.

In terms of power consumption, the Phenom II x4 965 is still an eco-friendly CPU and even with the additional speed in terms of Gigahertz, the increased consumption is debatable. During our initial testing, even when the CPU was stressed, the power consumption was relatively low which great news for everyone.

Either way, it's still a positive step in the right direction for AMD and the results from our tests proved this quite clearly. Although it should be mentioned that testing and benchmarking is subjective, we endeavored to ensure that the test components included new equipment as not to disadvantage the CPU. Nonetheless, testing will always be objective due to the amount of PC configurations available. 

System Specifications (Test Machine)
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4G
Graphics Card - HD4870 X2
Memory - 2048MB (2 x 1024MB) Kingston Memory
Hard Drive - Seagate Constellation 500GB
Power Supply - Titan 850W ATX Intel AMD PC Case Power Supply
Operating System - Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (64-bit) with SP

We also tested the AMD Phenom II X4 965 on a fresh installation of Windows Vista 64-bit and once the installation was complete and all the relevant drivers were installed, we noticed a considerably improved performance over our previous Phenom II setup, including our Intel machine of similar specifications.

The boot-up time was considerably faster and loading programs such as Microsoft Office or Adobe CS4 was pure bliss. Surfing the net, archiving, accessing files was a very snazzy experience. For official testing (that can be tested), we used the following software packages and games;

  • SiSoft Sandra

  • World Bench

  • Crysis Warhead

  • Bioshock

  • Call of Duty World at War

In regards to overclocking, none of our tests involved an overclocked Phenom II X4 965, however AMD have given users the software needed to overclock this baby should they feel the need.

Although after our tests, we did successfully push this CPU to almost 4Ghz with the appropriate cooling devices. It's ironic that overclocking was frowned upon the industry once upon a time, however now, it is considerably more common, especially with the affordable price of processors. Comparisons with Intel, probably the Intel Core i7-920 and Q9550 but in our books, the AMD Phenom II X4 965 is the choice for us.

SiSoft Sandra

SiSoft's Sandra  2009 is one of the world's most definitive and trusted programs as it supports the latest CPU and hardware configurations. SiSoftware Sandra 2009 stands for System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) or Sandra for short. Best of all, results of other configurations and CPU's are also available, ensuring for great comparisons.

SiSoft Sandra
Sandra cache and memory bandwidth
(11.2)  Intel Core i7-920
  (9.5) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(8.8) AMD Athlon II X2 250

SiSoft Sandra
CPU-Z memory access latency (16MB block, 512 byte-stride)
(58)  Intel Core i7-920
  (54) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(49) AMD Athlon II X2 250

After a variety of tests with SiSoft Sandra, the Phenom II X4 965 was in the range of the big boys, that being near Intel's Core i7 CPU's which is great news for AMD. With memory usage and CPU usage, the Phenom has the power and capabilities to produce some great performance. Although Intel may be quicker in relation to certain office suites, with the Dragon platform, the Phenom II X4 965 is definitely challenging Intel extremely closely.


WorldBench is similar to SiSoft and gives the user an almost flawless windows application benchmark. Best of all, the scores are recorded by the developers of this program and it allows for some great comparisons. The Phenom II X4 965 once again showed scores in the top ten of CPU's in the world at the moment.

World Bench - Overall Results
(124)  Intel Core i7-920
  (118) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(101) AMD Athlon II X2 550

World Bench - Microsoft Office 2003 SP1
 (322) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(328)  Intel Core i7-920
(324) AMD Athlon II X2 550

World Bench - Firefox Browsing
 (219) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(249)  Intel Core i7-920
(248) AMD Athlon II X2 550

World Bench - WinZip 10
(187) Intel Core i7-920
 (240) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(236) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Ironically, the Phenom II X4 knocked over Intel's Q9550 in quite a few tests, however in comparison to the Core i7-920, it just lost in terms of an overall score. Price, performance, the X4 is still winning though.


3DMark06 is another definitive benchmarking program and although slightly dated, it is a great tool for an overall benchmark of your system. It was developed by the Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer's 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. Once again, the Phenom II X4 965 boasted high scores. 

(4874)  Intel Core i7-920
  (4811) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(2443) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Crysis Warhead

Crysis is still one of those games that requires a huge amount of CPU processing and GPU processing and we can safely say that we have yet to meet a PC which can run it perfectly. What were those developers thinking? Featuring aliens and amazing weaponry, Crysis Warhead is the first person shooter that many dream of running it at full detail. For this review, we tested it out at 1920x1200 and 1280x1024 on high detail. Interesting enough, the processor knocked over some of the Intel scores at higher resolutions.

Crysis Warhead

(52)  Intel Core i7-920
 (51) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(44) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Crysis Warhead

(71)  Intel Core i7-920
 (62) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(50) AMD Athlon II X2 550


This Australian made game is still one of the most popular games available and with Bioshock 2 on the horizon, gamers across the world are eagerly awaiting the sequel. The Phenom II X4 965 performed remarkable well on Bioshock which is great news for Bioshock 2. Pushing Intel to the side, the Phenom II X4 965 proves that this processor is a king in terms of gaming.


  (125) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(105)  Intel Core i7-920
(100) AMD Athlon II X2 550


  (196) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(160)  Intel Core i7-920
(155) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Call of Duty World at War

Another first person shooter that is considered by many as the best online experience in the world. Set in World War II, this game features stunningly realistic graphics and some of the best gameplay in years. Once again the Phenom II X4 965 pushed it's closest Intel competitors with some impressive scores.

Call of Duty World at War

  (57) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(56)  Intel Core i7-920
(30) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Call of Duty World at War

  (75) AMD Phenom II X4 965
(74)  Intel Core i7-920
(60) AMD Athlon II X2 550

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Phenom II X4 965 is a very powerful CPU and it's great to see AMD take the fight closer to Intel. In comparison with the previous Phenom II models, the increased speed and performance of the Phenom II X4 965 is quite visible. In reference to benchmarking, the processor is definitely at the high end of CPU's but best of all, the price is more affordable.

Although as a workhorse PC, Intel slightly has an edge over AMD, however when it comes to gaming, especially with the Dragon platform, the Phenom II X4 965 is no slouch and easily beat Intel in quite a few gaming tests. With the higher end Intel CPU's, the Phenom II X4 965 is no match, however for price and performance, it's definitely a contender in the industry.

Check it out!


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